Sunday, March 11, 2012

Judgement day has come

It's finally happened - the public tantrum! We've had a pretty good run up until now, with our chill number one son. He'll be two and a half in less than a week and we can honestly say that he's yet to hit the notorious terrible twos. Not that he doesn't exhibit something very closely resembling TT behaviour once in a wee while. He's well and truly entered the 'mine' stage, and he'll cry out an angry 'No!' screwing up his face and throwing his whole body weight around if something offends him. And then, when he doesn't get what he wants he's got his bottom pet lip action down to a tee. He sticks it out so far I'm surprised he hasn't tripped over it yet - it's awfully cute though, I must admit.

So far his signs have helped us understand his needs and desires, but at two and a half, he's now babbling full sentences, some of which are a little tricky for even Mommy to decipher. And unfortunately his signing falls way short of our current communication needs, only conveying the odd word or two, so I can see how we're not completely out of the woods. His dictation is coming on fast though, so maybe he'll master it soon enough before he decides we're all complete idiots. Or maybe we'll be getting our comeuppance after all, and our angelic baby will soon to be entering the more advanced stage of the terrible twos - namely the terrible threes!

When he does throw the occasional wobbly, it's usually very clear to me, the moment (or cumulative moments) where it all goes pear shaped - as it was pretty clear to me today too. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that today's paddying (as it probably always is) was a direct consequence of bad choices, which I made. But saying that, I'd probably make the exact same choices if I had to do it all over again. 

Why? Because it's so easy to get it wrong by your kids - even when you know what you should do. Life always gets in the way, and other factors and persons come in to play. So a sacrifice is made here and there to try and achieve everything you set out to each day, whilst simultaneously keeping the majority happy. But there's always going to be some fallout - someone has to pay - no matter how fantastic a juggler you think you are. Today that someone was our eldest son, and so ultimately me.

This afternoon we had a swim birthday party to go to, which was a good 40 minutes drive away. The prospect of which was very exciting for our big kid. Silly Mummy had told him about this swim party days ago (bad choice #1), and so the little man had been fixated on swimming and party food - specifically 'cake' - for a good 5 days or more. Then, even sillier Mummy - who really should have known better - couldn't help building it up again this morning (bad choice #2). So the poor little man had been waiting patiently all day for his birthday party (cake) - only to be fobbed off time and time again.

Like most families, we're guilty of trying to do too much, attempting to cram as much as we possibly can into each day. Today we desperately needed to do the weekly grocery shop -  like it couldn't possibly wait another day! But I insisted there'd be plenty of time to squeeze it in between baby's morning catnap and both kids' afternoon naps (bad choice #3). Inevitably, everything took that little bit longer than expected, and crunch time came after leaving HEB at 1:45pm, with two exhausted bairns sitting in the back of the minivan. The party was due to start at 4:00pm leaving a window of 2 hrs and 15 minutes for kids to fall asleep, get home, unpack groceries, pack-up swim gear, and drive the 40 minute journey to the party.

For - ever the optimistic - Mommy, this was not a problem! We had plenty of time to make it all happen - it would be a cinch. Except, it wasn't. Hindsight is 20:20 and we probably should have left those crashed out kids snoozing happily in the car while we made our busy trip inside. But we didn't (bad choice #4). Then, being pushed for time, and afraid that we were going miss the swim, Momma woke the kids up from their happy recharge nap early (bad choice #5), attempting to transfer them back into the minivan in the hopes they'd keep snoozing - of course they didn't. Still, they were in surprisingly good spirits for being short-changed on their naps.

By the time we arrived, we were a little behind the scheduled party swim time, and so knowing how much our kids loved the water last summer, we rushed them into the baths - completely forgoing the all important car snack (bad choice #6).

The consequences to my shortcut parenting didn't bite us in the bum straight away. The kids were pumped when they arrived at the party, and over the moon to get togged up in swim gear. And what a fantastic swim it turned out to be! For all our apparent misdemeanors we earned a fabulous hour in the swimming baths with our two toddlers, which Daddy nor I would have given up for the world - in spite of what was still to come.

Everything was going swimmingly until it neared 6:00pm, and all guests had reassembled in the party room for games and snacks. Even then my - oh so very patient - big kid started doing his endearing cake dance, and what did I do? I remembered all too late that we'd not used the potty after leaving the baths (bad choice #7), and I'm pretty sure he hasn't figured out it's OK to pee in the water yet (like the rest of us), so I made him go to the potty with Daddy before he could have any cake. He was not a happy chappy to be leaving the 'party food' room before eating his cake. 

I think you could say that was the straw that broke the camel's back - and honestly, looking through our little mans eyes I couldn't blame him. He'd been teased about this party food all week - and just when it was looking like his time had finally come - everyone (particularly Mommy) was holding out on him once again.

I'll never know for sure if it was all seven, or just the last one, of those 'bad' choices that set him off. When he got back into the party room - a fired up little man with a mission - the cupcakes still hadn't been broken into. I sensed trouble brewing with my little guy - and, when his 'cake' complaining attracted the attention of some well intentioned - but unfortunately misguided family members of the birthday boy who were standing close by - he erupted full force, his temper exacerbated by their futile attempts to make him happy. He didn't want a bloody party blower, he wanted cake!

As far as throwing a paddy goes - I've definitely seen a LOT worse from other kids, hell I've seen worse from my kid, but the public aspect of the tantrum adds a nasty sting. It's a little harder to let the storm blow over with the eyes of the masses boring holes into Mommy's back. And so, after my little fella earned a few gasps for throwing his party bower down in a rage, I intervened. I got down on the floor with him and gently spoke to him there in the middle of the room. Despite my concentration on the words I was using to temper my boys storm, I couldn't help but overhear; "tut-tut, terrible twos!", and "I'm not looking forward to that age!'', but most upsetting of all, "That's why I don't want any kids!"

Logic told me that no one intended to be hurtful - or pass judgement - even though that was exactly what they were doing. But the thought of my angel baby being reason enough for anyone to not want kids was outrageous to me, and this Mommy Lioness felt an all consuming protectiveness over my angry and vulnerable cub, that I'd never felt before. Keeping a good natured smile plastered on my face, I held onto his little hand, and, in spite of his tears, he happily walked with me out of the party room. We both needed to cool down, and it took him much less time than it did me. I'm still seething 4 hours later, whereas all was forgotten by my little man barely 30 seconds later.  

Unfortunately that wasn't the end of his sour mood for the evening. And even though I successfully got him to picnic on a few savoury snacks before he got his long sought after cup-cake, he was tormented endlessly by babies (including ours) wanting dibs on the snacks on his party plate. Not wanting to recruit any more 'bad mother judgement' from other opinionated party goers, I was steadfast by his side, working hard to distract and refuel the tired wee britches. When he seemed to be coming out of his funk, I prematurely let my guard down a little, and just as I was immersed in Mommy chatter, I heard a familiar toddler cry 'No!', and looked up to see him grappling with Daddy over holding the juice bag. 

So out we went again, to cool off and watch the swimmers. My boy was tired and hungry for some real food - especially after his impressive swim - hyped up on sugar and super overstimulated to boot, but to his credit (save for his uncharacteristic short fuse) he was still enjoying the party loads - in spite of having a hard time of it. He threw one final wee wobbly, after I refused to let him squeeze the juice out himself, and so this time Daddy accompanied him out. Once he'd cooled off he came back in and came straight over to me for a kiss and a cuddle after saying 'soddy Momma'. I never heard any other comments regarding the unsavoury temperament of my little angel, but I couldn't shake the judgement that had already been cast on my shoulders.         

I don't care what anybody else saw (obviously I care enough to write this blog), what I saw was an awesome little kid, learning to deal with lots of new experiences and people and surroundings, latching onto the few things he loved and understood (specifically swimming and cake). I know he's mine and I'm unbelievably bias, but I thought he dealt with the mixed bag of tricks we threw at him today amazingly well for a two year old. Everybody who's had children will have no doubt faced a tantrum or two in their time - it's written into the job description. What's harder to deal with, is the disapproving onslaught from bystanders, and the judgement bestown on your Mothering abilities by all who witness your kids bad behavior- as if I'm not already my own harshest judge! 

The worst of it all is, I have been - and at times still am - guilty of committing the same heinous crime toward my own kind. I can hear my Dad saying long ago ''People that live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones''. I guess you could say my judgement day has finally come, and I think It's something I'm going to have to get used to....

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