Friday, May 21, 2010

Things my Two-Year-Old Taught Me: Part IX

It was a marathon and not a sprint at the store yesterday.  I had several items to pick up for last night’s dinner with friends, plus I wanted to take the opportunity of being “without husband” to pick up an anniversary gift or two (although our anniversary was on Tuesday, we aren’t celebrating until Saturday).  Part of this present business involved getting photos developed at the one hour place, which meant not only waiting for an hour, but also sitting at a computer kiosk selecting pictures and print sizes... etc.  Tack this on to a repeat trip to the kiosks to re-order said prints in a different size based on the frames I found (or rather the frames I COULDN’T find... more on that in a later post...) and the whole trip took rather longer than I would have liked.
And it took a whole heck of a lot longer than the 2’s could manage.  
I was impressed with mini.  Not only did she remain cheerful for most of the trip, she also remained sitting up on her own in the little seat in the cart AND when she DID get tired and I laid her down in said seat, she fell asleep on her own.  I may not have mentioned this enough, but mini doesn’t sleep.  Ever.
The 2’s, though - that was another story entirely.
They started out fairly normally.  The sat in their seats and sang some songs.  We had some volume issues, but all in all, it was an unremarkable shopping excursion.  Until the bakery aisles.  It all went downhill there.
Suddenly, the 2’s turned into crazed, wild-eyed, feral children with no respect for “being good” and absolutely no remorse for “being bad.”  They screamed.  They yelled.  They laughed maniacally.  They pinched each other and pulled each other’s hair.  They would laugh as the other one cried.  They grabbed things off of shelves, they threw things down aisles.  Pretty soon I was pinning bug’s arms down while bodily separating K from the other two, whispering heated warnings and pushing the cart all at the same time.  I was in way over my head and was determined to leave the store with everything I went there for, tantrums or not.
So we persisted.  Sandals were flying off of feet, well meaning passersby were “tattling” when one child would hit the other... to which I WANTED to respond, “No one likes a tattle tale!” But I bit my tongue, smiled and thanked them, while threatening the 2’s within an inch of their lives.  I threw everything at them - cajoling, bargains, punishments, rewards, bribes, revoking rewards, revoking bribes, treats, revoking treats... put quite simply, they were CRABBY.  And nothing was working.
On the third trip back to the photo “lab” (this time to retrieve the photos), I had had it.  I was ready to sell the kids - mini included, even though she was really being quite good - to the highest bidder and take the three car seats crammed across my backseat out for good.  OR, I considered leaving them in the cart and walking away.  Right out the door... OR I considered taking them home and putting them in bed and never getting them out of bed again - FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.  
I did none of those things.  What I DID do is persevere despite the stares, head shakes, rolled eyes, and disapproving looks, loose my cool a few times, give a couple of time outs right there in the store, make it out to my car with all of the items I needed and drive through Taco Bell for a good, stiff drink.  That’s right - I got myself a Pepsi, and I didn’t feel guilty.
Then I drove home, still simmering and muttering, complaining about crabby children and sassiness.  
At one point, bug did something particularly vile - I’m pretty sure he was demanding a song on the CD player - and I snapped.  I made sure he knew I was NOT happy.  We arrived home, me fuming, bug crying pathetically, K repeating, “Mad!  Mad!” over and over again and mini completely oblivious, albeit unhappy at being awakened from her nap.
I stopped the car in the driveway and that was when bug spoke in a tiny voice, “I hungry.” There was a sad pause.  “And tired.  I want a nap?”
I turned in my seat and saw his little tear-stained face with his sad (and apparently starving) eyes and I felt like the largest, most disgusting, revolting OGRE ever to grace the annals of motherhood.  What had I done?  Not only had I snapped at the 2’s - sending my son to tears - but I had also forgotten to feed them.  Granted, it was only 12:40, not like 3:00 in the afternoon, but still.  It was later than I usually feed them.  Maybe bug thought he’d never get to eat again...
I hope no one wants to call child services on me now.  I WAS crabby and I DID raise my voice, but I never raised my fists - so at least that’s good.  We all have bad days sometimes, right?  I almost didn’t write this up, because it painted me in such a horrible light, but I felt like it would be dishonest to ignore such a lesson. 
There I was, grumbling about how crabby the kids were and they were simply acting in a way perfectly understandable considering their current condition... which was hungry and tired.  Of course they were crabby.  Who wouldn’t be?
And that’s when it dawned on me.  I was hungry too.  And tired.  AND crabby... just as crabby, if not MORE so, than they were.  If being hungry and tired made me - an adult with hopefully a few more coping mechanisms than a 2 yr old - a filthy, smelly ogre, than imagine what it does to a 2 yr old, with considerably less experience and almost no coping mechanisms.
The moral(s) of this sad tale?
  1. While I was ranting about THEIR misbehavior, I was oblivious to MINE.  I was just as crabby, but did I rant about that?  No.
  2. I forgot the most important tool of motherhood, nay, of ADULTHOOD.  The biggest, shiniest, most universal, multifunctional tool you can keep in your pocket.  Humor.  What’s the first bit of advice you get when you get married?  Well, usually it’s something like “never go to bed angry”... but it’s followed closely by “always keep your sense of humor.”  And isn’t that the same thing people love to tell you when you are about to embark on the terrifying journey of parenthood for the first (or second...) time?  Yes.  When the 2’s started acting out, where was the tickle monster?  Or the silly song singer?  Or the “let’s point out all the blue things” distractor? On hiatus, that’s where.  And instead they got glared at and time-outed by the wicked witch of the walmart.  
  3. Kids have voices too.  They just don’t always know how to use them to their best advantage.  All that yelling and sassy talk?  The toddler to parent translator stuck in my ear SHOULD have said, “Hey, Mom, I’m getting a little hungry here.  Could we take a break and eat something?  And just so you know, it’s getting on nap time.”  But the darn thing was broken so all I heard was, “AHHHHH!” - “Noooooo!!!” - “Stop it!” - “No pinch me!” - “No hit!” - “It hurt!” - “I want it!” - “Gimme!!” - and of course, “insert high pitched, unearthly, ear-piercing, glass shattering, shriek HERE.”  Stupid translator.
  4. Someone needs to invent a semi-decent multi-child shopping cart.  Honestly, who in their right mind thinks it’s a good idea to put two toddlers on a bench seat TOUCHING each other?  The cart should look something like this - one toddler seat at the back, the baby seat where it normally is, one toddler seat at the front, with room for a “time out” stool underneath the cart basket.  This way you wouldn’t even have to stop the cart for time-out’s, and you wouldn’t have to find a corner.  The seat belts should also have many more straps - kind of like a straight jacket.  Ok, that’s probably going too far...
  5. Maybe I should go to bed earlier.
  6. Once in a while, I think I should just admit defeat.  Is it so important to get everything done on MY timetable?  Did I really need to wait for the photos RIGHT THEN?  Did I then need to wait for the lady to help me with the _______ (can’t mention it right now, sorry, still a surprise until Saturday), OR could I have left the kids with mr later on and gone back to the store by myself with a little more peace and quiet, a little more calm, a little less stress and after being fed and watered?  Is it wrong to give up? On the contrary, I probably should surrender BEFORE my temperature rises to the point of boiling.  It’s a difficult thing for me to do, but I’m going to have to learn that it isn’t a failure on my part to wave the white flag.  
Needless to say, I wiped the tears softly, spoke more gently, loved more completely and gave extra hugs and kisses before nap.  (Oh, and I DID get them some food, so they didn’t really starve) (just in case you were worried about that). 
I only hope I learned these lessons so thoroughly and completely that I never have to relearn them.  Because they were painful and hard lessons to learn.

Dear Walmart Employees Who May Have Inadvertently Crossed Paths With the Rampaging Ogre while Only Trying to Faithfully Fulfill Your Job Descriptions,
Please consider this my official apology.  I will try very hard to be full and rested the next time I take the children shopping.  I’m not usually that horrible, I swear.  If you only got to know me a little better, you’d realize I’m most often witty and charming, just as I’m sure I’d find you interesting and engaging.  I hope we can let bygones be bygones.  Thank you for your understanding.

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