I’ve lost count of how many times one of my toddlers has lost it in public. It’s of no surprise really — and it doesn’t just happen during the toddler years. Childhood tantrums seem to diminish in frequency over time but they do indeed still happen. So to all of those people who told me that meltdowns were a part of the toddler stage? LIES. ALL LIES.
I have a 4-year-old son (who is now nearly 5). He is old enough to declare that Autumn is his birthday season yet still toddler(ish) enough to wail like a very unreasonable, injured raccoon when he didn’t get the orange plate with his scrambled eggs.
I’m noticing a recurring theme as a mom to one toddler and one young child who reserve the (questionable) right to flop down on the floor at any given moment to flip their lids; limbs flailing and emotions blazing. Any attempts to reason with them during these times goes unnoticed and often, they don’t discriminate over where they exhibit this (much) less-than-desirable behavior.
I’m not alone in this. I’ve noticed that a lot of other parents experience the same behavior from their children and lots of other people SANS little ones stare (and even point) at us like the apparent social pariahs that we are. All thanks to our kids. To all of those moms (and dads) out there, this love letter is for you. I stand in solidarity with you. It’s not our fault. Most of us, we do the best we can in these circumstances — no matter what the Judgey McJudgersons have to say about it.
To the mom with the toddler who wants the chocolate milk AND the pizza (and a cookie too!) at the mall food court: you’ve got this. Ignore the impatient person frothing at the mouth behind you while you try have patience with your little one and help them make a healthy choice. Ignore their eye rolling as you attempt to work out a compromise with your little heathen as they begin to show signs of blowing their top. You’ve got this. Perhaps just get them all that horrid pre-fab junk and sugar — or don’t. Most of us parents know that someone else will be there giving us the side-eye over our tray filled with junk food, too. Either way, no matter what kind of decisions we make with our kids when out in public … we’re often the types of folks who get glares and whispers and unwanted advice.
To the dad who who is running like mad to make it to the washroom while your little one is crying because they don’t want to wipe their bum and screaming, “CANOE-PWEASE-JUST-GET-DA-POO-OFF?!?!” The dad who finally reaches the white gleaming glory of the washroom only to find a long line and not one damn person who will let your little one ahead of them. All the while getting disgusted stares or even some stranger with the cojones to voice some nugget of “wisdom.” Feel free to go ahead and remind your hater(s) that someone wiped their bum, too. Go ahead. I’ve done it. Butt in line if you have to. Inappropriate maybe, but hey — so were they.
To the mom with the child who is losing their mind in the grocery store because you won’t let them out of the cart to run around willy-nilly grabbing things off the shelves and all other forms of frightening behavior … just let ’em scream. Or lay it down stern on them, whatever you’re feeling at the time. Smile at the stares, and say “hello” loudly to those who gesture and whisper. To those who are lucky enough to encounter folks with yet even more cojones, declaring under their breaths, “my kids would never act that way” just know that they are full-on liars. Go ahead and tell them that, or keep the knowledge close to your heart as you try not to clip them “accidentally” with your cart. Either way, they’ve forgotten what it’s like. Or they rule their home with an iron fist. Or they never leave their home with their toddlers. Or something just as ludicrous … because it just isn’t true.
Toddlers will act out in public, no matter kind of parents we are. No matter how tolerant or intolerant of it we are. No matter how often we divvy out consequences or take the time to work with them during (and after) each and every outburst. Perhaps there are indeed little kids who could be labelled as little brats with parents who must be downright horrible, no-good parents, because why else would their kids act that way? Sure, we could go there.
But I’m not gonna. Most kids, regardless of what kind of parents they have (not my business, unless your kid is bullying and/or hitting mine) are just working out their emotions too, in their own way as they learn and develop. Most of us parents are doing the best we can to help them articulate their feelings and work through the tough stuff without squashing them down. Besides, I know a lot of adults who still haven’t learned how to work through their emotions “appropriately.”
For the most part, there are enough well-intentioned strangers who give a glance of understanding and support. I say “enough” because that’s what I try to focus on when out in public and the time all-too-frequently arises. Yet, if I’m being honest … there are lots of jerks out there, too. I could ignore them, but why should I?
Parents of wild things, listen up! We can stroll the streets in our strollers, and ride all of the planes we need, or want to. We can frequent our favorite family restaurants, breastfeed in public and generally, you know, live. Out in public, even. Even when our mini-humans disturb the delicate balance of of the adult realm. We have yet to discover a planet where children aren’t allowed and we have yet to figure out a way for humans to evolve out of the womb at the (apparently) highly evolved state of grown-up-ness.
To all of you moms and dads with little ones who do all the things they they are supposed to be doing (including having temper tantrums out in public) keep on keepin’ on and wiping bums and butting in lines as you need to. It’s just another day in paradise and these moments, including those wacky strangers who attempt to mess with your mind, shall pass.
In these moments, you are mighty. You are grand … moms and dads of the toddler-kind. Take this knowledge with you past bedtime when we all take our collective breaths. As we brush aside soft chunks of our mini-kinds’ locks to reveal an irresistible spread of forehead and cheek, know that we are the chosen ones. The lucky ones. And the rest … the non-believers of the magic children-kind hold, the haters and the snarkers … they should be so lucky. Eruptions and all.