Thursday, September 13, 2007

For your information - this is what a tantrum looks like

Today at Whole Foods Astrid had a major tantrum. Tantrums I'm used to so that didn't rattle me as much as the concerned woman who came running up to us.

Lady: "Do you need help?"
Me: "Help with what?"
(If I had been holding a screaming kid in one arm with a bag of groceries in another I could understand the concern - but Astrid was seated in the grocery cart - albeit having a tantrum. My first reaction was to tell her to mind her business, but I thought if I was polite she'd go away on her own.)
Lady: "Well I just saw the child was crying."
("Was" as in past tense. Strange lady = scary to a kid = tantrum stops immediately.)
Me: "Yeah and? She's tired."
(I'm not going to explain to a stranger that she's having a fit because she didn't get her way.)
Lady: "Well I just wanted to make sure she was okay."
Me: "As you can see she's fine and safely seated in the cart."
Lady: "Well I was just really concerned."
(I'm in the baby aisle picking out organic raisins for my kid okay - no need to finger me for child services.)
Me: "I'm her mother."
(Stressing "mother". I mean the lady was eyeing me like I was a bad caregiver. I started to think maybe because Astrid and I look so different she thought I was just a nanny or something.)
Lady: "Well I'm glad to hear that."

As she walked away I saw her husband holding their newborn infant. I felt like shouting, "For your information this is what a tantrum looks like. You'll see in a couple years when your kid goes through the terrible twos."

She didn't see me with Astrid outside Whole Foods, trying to get Astrid to come inside for 10 minutes. I wanted to just run in a get a few things for Astrid, for our upcoming 2 week trip to Maine and New York. So I wanted her to walk in with me. Usually letting her hold the grocery basket will do the trick, but this time she wanted to sit in that kid's cart with the car attached to it. From experience I know she will only sit in that contraption for 5 minutes and then I'm left hauling that thing around which has WIDE turns and isn't easy to maneuver - while running after a 2 year old. No way. Especially since I was just wanted to pick up 3 small items. So I let her choose - either walk in with me and hold the basket or sit in the grocery cart. A couple times she agreed to walk in with me, but as soon as she'd get near the entrance she'd have another meltdown and refuse to walk. Then she just refused to go in and wanted to go home. After 10 minutes of this I knew that I couldn't have her rolling around on the floor, only to get up and walk two steps and have a repeat performance all over again. So in the cart she went and she howled like a banshee.

I'm sure most parents experience this and have their parenting skills called into question at some point. I guess this was just my right of passage as a parent. But to be confronted by a stranger like that was so unnecessary. I know my kid is crying - believe me - I know it because she's right in front of my face and the sound is rattling the teeth in my head. I hate to hear her cry. Something about being a mother, we are hard wired to do everything possible to stop our kids from crying. The sound of crying sets off an alarm in our brains. Being seen as an ogre while your sweet, innocent looking child kicks and shrieks isn't pleasant. In fact it's downright embarrassing and hard to take. But I knew she wasn't in pain, she was comfortable, she was safe, and she would get over it in a few minutes.

It's a part of parenting that every parent goes through. Those parents that give into every whim are raising kids who will always kick and scream to get their way (because it works). Being a good parent also means being able to say "no" when necessary so as to not raise a spoiled brat. And of course as any parent knows, as soon as the tantrum is over it's like it never happened. After the lady left Astrid was smiling again and completely content to sit in the cart and hold onto her bag of organic animal cookies.

We also ate there and Astrid was acting like a well behaved child (like she normally is). The lady seated in the booth across from us said, "She is such a cutie! She looks like an angel." I thought to myself, "Yeah but if you would have seen her 10 minutes ago."

Where was the concerned lady I had the confrontation with now? I kept hoping she'd walk by to see us, but she never did. Maybe I should have just told her to mind her own business in the first place.


Karissa (mommy) said...

It is probably better that you were polite to the lady, but I wouldn't have blamed you if you had told her to mind her own business. It boggles my mind that she said that to you. Even if I saw a parent trying to calm down a child that was screaming and rolling around on the floor I wouldn't offer my help because I'm pretty sure a stranger isn't going to fix the problem. I wonder what that lady thought she could do? Especially since Astrid was fine by the time she offered help. Maybe the lady was schizophrenic and thought she saw something that wasn't reality. That's the only explanation that I could think of.

Coyote Republic said...

That is pretty weird - I mean, unless her mommy instincts for her own baby were still making her mental. But it's none of her business - if Astrid had been hurt or something where you required help, I'm sure you would have shouted for help!

Speaking of tantrums, since they start at about 15 months... and get worse... Fin has had a few public ones. He likes to throw himself on the floor and bang his head. I've taken to just standing there, waiting, making sure he's not in danger ie. from being trampled, but I am so clueless what to do. I don't want to give in, or as in your case, it's usually when he wants to be held and refuses to walk or sit in the shopping cart, or he simply MUST open that random box of whatever at that moment, etc. Makes me crazy :)

Amy said...

I. Feel. Your. Pain.

In fact, when I see a shrieking toddler, that's the look I give the of sympathy and one that let's them know I've been there.

Jennifer said...

My son is also two. It's been fun. Especially at the supermarket. I know the feeling exactly.

It's supposed to get better. Hopefully that will happen soon.

Matthew said...

Wow. What nerve!

I think I might have snapped at the lady if that were me. You deserve a medal.