Friday, May 18, 2012

Tantrum of the Year

The kid has never been a tantrum thrower. To this day, if he is to have one (which, seriously, is really rare - as in I can only think of 5-8, total, he's ever had), I mostly just am too shocked to respond. We made it through the "terrible two's" just fine. Not a tantrum to be had. We thought we were superb parents, to have parented our child in such a way that he didn't need to have a tantrums to communicate with us. We were awesome.

And then he turned 3. And, as I've told others, it was like the devil moved in.

The week of his 3rd birthday, I took the kid to our local children's museum. We had a family membership that year and frequented it particularly in the yucky weather. We went in to the museum and he headed - as was typical - to the "tractor" and played around on it for awhile. He then headed over to the water play area. Also typical - those were his 2 favorite spots. He tried to leave the water area with water toys. I told him he had to put them back. He tried to run away from me.

And that was when it happened.

All hell broke loose. I put him in time out. He wouldn't stay. I held him on my lap to complete the time out and mostly to try to help him calm down. He kicked. He hit. He tried to bite me. He spit. He screamed bloody murder. And then he vomited all over the both of us. Large quantities of vomit. Dear lord, how I hate vomit.

I picked him up and carried him into the bathroom. I am quite certain that everyone thought I was taking him in there to beat him - and, in truth, part of me wanted to. Really, though, I was going to get us both cleaned up. Though for some ridiculous reason, there were no paper towels in that bathroom.

I cleaned us up as best I could, with toilet paper, and him still screaming and sobbing. Then I calmly walked us out, got our coats and started to walk back to the car.

About halfway there, and between huge, gulping sobs (the screaming fortunately had ceased the moment we walked out of the museum) he said, "". All I could say was, "I don't know, baby, I don't know". I could tell he felt embarrassed and guilty about the awful tantrum, which caused a fresh wash of tears. From both of us. As we were walking down a very public downtown street .

The cause became quickly apparent, as he fell asleep before we were even out of the parking garage. He must not have slept well the previous night and was exhausted. He didn't wake up when we got home and I took him out of his carseat, had him pee in the toilet, and then put him in bed. He slept for more than 3hrs. And woke up his happy, non-tantrumy self. ThankyousweetbabyJesus.

Now, to be fair, let me say it again. The kid has had fewer than 10 tantrums ever, that I can remember at least. They did all happen either in public, or when social workers were in our house (I feel like I blogged about that once, but I can't seem to find it. A story for another day). I am beyond grateful for this. I am fairly certain that we will not be so lucky with baby E, who has at least 10 tantrums a week (not that severe or long-lasting, thankfully. Yet).

Today's Lesson: We should offer to help each other. Not a single person in that whole museum offered to help me when my kid was losing it (figuratively and literally in the case of his breakfast, which ended up all over the both of us). Not an employee. Not another mom. How nice it would have been to see a gentle smile of empathy from another mother, instead of pointing and whispering to mommy friends (seriously, that did happen). Or an offer to help us clean up, instead of staring and then turning their backs (yes, that's what several employees who were together did). A small act of kindness can go a long way, friends.


Alex said...

Oh man, that sounds awful. I can't even imagine, and I definitely do not look forward to the day when Alex starts throwing tantrums...

Great lesson. I don't know why strangers don't help each other more, but it's very weird that they don't. But maybe we can change that a bit...

M said...

Aww, poor guy. I think people worry so much about overstepping.

Elizabeth said...

I agree. We as moms should be supporting and helping each other in any way we can, instead of passing judgement. So sorry you had to go through that.

AS said...

It's so sweet that after the massive tantrum, the kid was spontaneously reflective. At age three. What an awesome kid.

Kristin said...

Oh tantrums are the worst. My step-daughter liked to throw them at church!

Anonymous said...


Oh, my goodness, I feel sorry for the both of you. Why didn't anyone help you? Horrid behaviour from adults. My kid had a tantrum once right after I ordered an expensive latte, and I had to leave it and get us out of the coffeshop. A woman came out and told me not to feel bad about it because that particular cafe (full of mums and kids in strollers)was a "safe" place and everyone understood. That really went a long way to making a bad stressful situation a lot better.

I hear sometimes that if you skip the terrible 2's, you get the awful 3's. I'm getting better at recognizng the signs of a tired or overtired infant and hope that I can navigate my way around these tantrums. That being said, I had to haul him out of the house like a piece of luggage kicking and screaming cause we had a doctor's appointment.

Thrift Store Mama said...

It's such a tough call. I would love for people to offer to help me but I know so many others would be offended. If its a parent with two kids, I would risk it and offer to help, though.