Monday, March 28, 2011

Tantrums: Don't Give Me Those Looks

I have to go through it all over again: the stares, glares, and judgmental looks. It happened last week at Target when I was getting those monthly basics such as toilet paper, shampoo, and toothpaste. My youngest threw four enormous fits for all to see, hear, and appreciate. You’d think due to my veteran-mom-status, I’d be able to let those looks bounce right off me, but I really don’t handle getting them very well. I may look unaffected on the outside, but inside, well…

On our last shopping trip, I noticed that most of the people who found my child so irritating and my mothering so despicable were a tad older and had definitely been away from the early mothering years for a while. Maybe they had never been in the two-year-old trenches, ever. Still, this didn’t make their judgments any easier.

Their looks said, “Wow, your child is a brat. You need to be a better parent. Then none of this would happen. It is because of parents like you that our schools, our society, are falling apart. You are the reason I may not get my social security!”

And my non-verbal response, “Hey, the reason he’s throwing these fits is because I’m actually not letting him have his way! I’m actually parenting him, and I’m brave enough to tell him no in public, so there!”

See, I could make two parenting choices during this intense period of inevitable power struggles, my youngest son turned two in February, so I figure I have another 11 months or so to enjoy these rages. One option, I could choose to go nowhere. I could keep our child at home at all cost. But that would teach him nothing. And I would probably shrivel up and die from not getting enough social time. Option two: when we do go out I could let him have whatever he wants! I could have let him get all five stuffed toys that he swiped off the shelves, located for some reason, next to the toilet paper aisle. Thank you marketing experts! Or I could have let him run all around the store, not make him sit in the cart. Or why not let him have that pack of fish crackers, sugary treats shaped like helicopters, or cheap dollar bin items that caught his fancy at the check-out stand. If anyone should receive the glares of condemnation, it should be the management responsible for placing all these treasures at my son’s eye-level and of course, located in check-out when we are forced to wait in line behind other shoppers, giving my youngest lots of time to evaluate all the material pleasures.

No Good Samaritans emerged. No one let me go ahead of them in line. No one said, “Wow, you are an amazing mom. You have three young boys, you take them shopping, you teach them to resist impulse shopping, and you tell them no, swallowing a little pride while they flail on the floor in rage.”

Nope, no one said that. Instead they looked at me as if I was ruining their day. Actually their looks were eerily similar to the looks my sons give me when I don’t let them get what they want either. And their looks mirrored my own heart’s gut reaction to their evil-eye. Which led me to conclude that many adults aren’t much further along than my young son, they (me) are just better at reigning in the primal instincts and masking them a bit as indignation, irritation, and frustration.

11 comments:

Diana (Ladybug Limited) said...

Hang in there, Mama, you're doing the right thing! "It's only a season, it's only a season..."

Sally said...

Sorry you had a rough time shopping, Rebekah. You're doing great by teaching them they can't have everything!

I think my favorite comment I've gotten from a shopper was, "someone needs a nap." I really wanted to say, "ya, you look exhausted" but I bit my tongue.

I think our best trick with our littles was to let them touch and play with the toys, but when it was time to leave we always made it a big deal to say, "goodbye" to the toys.

Even so, our 7 year old threw a fit to rival all fits over a Mario blanket at Target just this past December. Reason being, Grandma was with us and she usually caves. This time she didn't. Hmmm... wonder why he threw the fit?

Keep doing what you're doing, it will pay off.

Heather said...

You are doing it right. Just keep at it. None of mine did the two year old thing, instead they all waited for the 3's. We are in the midst right now and it isn't much fun. Good luck!

Jessica said...

Oh bravo! I actually stood up from my computer and delivered a sincere and heartfelt burst of applause following this post. GOOD JOB MAMA! (One of my favorite parts was "you are the reason I may not get my social security!" Fabulous!) Posts like these are a reassurance to me, a reassurance of like-minded mama solidarity when I, too, am alone with my child in a crowded store and said child decides to express a bit o' the will. :)

Rebekah said...

Thanks for all the support women!

I do seem to be able to handle the glares better on round 3. And my youngest is actually the best when it comes to not having tantrum, my middle son was the worst.

Sena said...

I have older children now but I clearly remember being in those trenches. Stick with it...all your work now will pay off in the long run.

Mindi said...

Oh how familiar it all is! What is it about Target? They must pump something through the air vents that incites tantrums! Just smile sweetly at the "grumpy guts", grit your teeth and know you are doing the right thing. Remember, you are not there to build a lasting relationship with your fellow Target shoppers! :)

Anonymous said...

I love this article.
-Laura

Alison said...

Loved this, Rebekah! :) My first child was very compliant and I used to have the judgmental attitude you wrote about. :) But in God's grace, he gave me a couple more trying children. :) I am encouraged by you to stand my ground when parenting in public, no matter what others think!

Dawnfouts said...

I don't think anyone can really understand unless they've had multiple children... : ) Having only 1 child doesn't count, in my opinion. : ) I've eaten some humble pie myself, after my first child spoiled me and my second gave me a run for my money, and my third even more. Thankfully, my kids really like bananas, so I usually only buy them to use as "positive incentives" for good behavior. : )

Emily said...

So....maybe this is giving into the tantrums, but this is a tactic I use while in places such as Target.

I buy the $1 bag of popcorn in the little cafe part before we ever even start our shopping. Stick the kids in the cart and let them munch on a not so terrible snack. Keeps the quiet and content... and lets me shop in peace.
Just an idea for future shopping adventures...