So far Jack’s tantrums have been held inside, in the privacy of our apartment and they are often triggered by the suggestion that we go outside. This winter has made a hermit of my normally sun-loving kid. Tear…. OK, back to my back patting moment. So, somehow I manged to get Jack outside with minimal tears and off to the playground which is a block away. The sun was shining, my spirits were high and there was an empty swing. Thank god for the empty swing. Things went well in the swing. It worked. He swang. He was happy. The birds were singing. I think I even saw a rainbow. OK…maybe not, but the mood was magical. Until a nanny came along and placed a baby in the empty swing next to us.
It was an innocent moment. A cute little baby in the swing. What a sweetie. Jack didn’t think so at all. The moment that baby butt hit the swing Jack decided that he wanted that swing and he didn’t hesitate to let everyone know this. The nanny quickly offered us the swing, but against Jack’s wishes, I said no. That’s right I asserted my power of NO. Jack hated that answer and kept insisting that we take the swing, but I know my Jack and I knew that the minute he got that swing he would want his old swing back and then LET THE GAMES BEGIN. Well, I didn’t feel like playing. I took one look at him sobbing in the swing and realized that I was suddenly “that mom”. The mom who’s kid is freaking out.
I’ve seen many of “those moms” before. Each handle their freaking out child differently. The mom’s I adore are the one’s who don’t break their backs trying to make their kid happy. The mom’s I can’t stand, but try to feel some empathy for are the one’s who take the other swing and bend over backwards just so their precious little angel isn’t unhappy for even a moment.
So, here I am at the playground and Jack is freaking out over the swing. Every parent and nanny on that playground whipped their heads around like the Exorcist to see who was freaking out. It was as if Jack were the first child on the playground to pitch a fit. And here comes my big, proud mommy moment. Drum roll please………I scoop him out of the swing and tell him that his behavior is not OK. I then walk him to a bench and tell him that he needs to sit there until he has calmed down. Thank you. Thank you very much. Well, he didn’t calm down and we sat there together on the bench. Him screaming. Me eating pineapple slices. Slurp!!!!!!!!!! Man was that some delicious pineapple.
When I thought that he had calmed down enough and had moved past his desperate sorrow over the swing I told him that he could get up and play. This made him reminisce about the swing and the tears started flowing yet again. So there we sat. Time ticked on. A hawk flew overhead. OK maybe it was a pigeon. Children went running by. Street cleaners cleaned the streets. Still we sat. Every time I thought that Jack could handle getting up that damn swing entered his mind again sending him into a tailspin. Why oh why were swings invented???? To torture young children and their parents I tell you. If they aren’t waiting for one they are getting hit by one. If they aren’t getting hit by one they were wishing that they were. It is a vicious cycle.
Finally, I had had enough. The clouds arrived. The sun was gone. The temperature dropped. I was done. I wanted to go home. I told Jack that if he didn’t want to play that we were leaving. He didn’t want to. We were leaving. Or at least that’s what I thought. Jack, however wanted to stay and continue to wallow in the sorrow of the swing. I tried the good old 1, 2, 3 Magic routine. It wasn’t working. Jack was screaming and every adult on the playground was still staring. So, I picked him up and removed him from the playground.
Do you know what he did next?? He lost it completely and smacked me in the face! I couldn’t believe it. I had become the parent who’s kid smacks them in the face. Maybe those m&m’s he sometimes has for breakfast have ruined him. Maybe I breastfed him too long. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it, but there was no way in hell that I was going to take it so I plopped his butt down on the nearest bench, got down on his level, took both of his hands in mine, and in my best “teacher voice” told him, “You do not hit! You are in a Time Out until I tell you you can get up.” Then I walked a few feet away.
Jack wouldn’t be Jack if he didn’t test the situation. Maybe he will be a master tester. Maybe he will ace his SAT’s all because I made him sit in Time Out. Hmmm. Well, that boy got up off of the bench at least three times and each time I picked him up and without a word put him back on the bench. Supernanny would be so proud. After I felt like I properly tortured him enough I got down on his level again and reminded him why I put him in Time Out. I then told him I loved him and that I understood that he was having a bad day. He let out the loudest and saddest sigh. SIGH…………………….
I would like to say that we walked out of the park peacefully that day, but we didn’t. When Jack realized we were actually leaving the park the shrieking started again. This time I just picked him up and he got to show off how flexible he was by arching his back as far as it would go. It was really quite impressive. Maybe Circue de Soleil will recruit him one day.
As we left the other mothers offered me what I like to call “The Sad Face”. You know the face. You pull the sides of your mouth down and basically look sad. You do this as an act of solidarity towards the mothers whose kids have either fallen or are having a fit. I have to say that I appreciated those looks. I didn’t feel at all judged for how I handled the situation. Sure people were looking, but I like to think that they were just curious about how I was going to deal with the tantrum. I’m sure some of them were judging me, but it didn’t bother me. I will admit that I have judged other moms. I wish I could say that I haven’t, but that wouldn’t be honest. Judging other moms makes you sometimes feel better or worse about the job you are doing as a mom yourself. It’s simply human nature. I think we all judge one another at one time or another and if you can stand there and say that you haven’t than 1: You are full of Shit! or 2: You should be hailed the most enlightened mother on the face of the planet by Oprah herself! And if you are wondering why I picked Oprah it’s because she knows everything. Duh!
I am definitely still learning and am not trying to put myself out there as the mom who does no wrong. I do plenty wrong, remember the m&m’s, but I like to focus on the things that I do that are right. It’s better for the ego that way. Eckhart Tolle would also be so proud.
Thank you for listening. You can applaud now.