This morning, Paxlet found a two-part card base in some craft stuff and wanted to use it. I told him to get ready for the day and then he could have it. When I gave him the card, he immediately informed me that he was going to cut off a section of it and make a door for his castle. On the tip of my tongue was a comment that he shouldn’t cut the card up… because it should be used as a card. Huh?! Why did it need to be used as a card? I don’t know! I got those card bases TO BE USED in any which way the kids wanted. And my boy wanted to use it. I caught myself and kept the words to myself. Instead I nodded at Paxlet and said ‘uh-huh, ok’. I know the rest of the card may never be used, but you know what? Paxlet was occupied, not poking at his sister, being silently (mostly) creative and very happy about it. He was so proud of his castle door when he was done. And I was so proud of myself for letting Paxlet be himself.
Before I was a parent, I said I would never take my kid(s) to the store or out in public when they are having a tantrum or in a visibly bad mood, as long as I had a choice about it. (I get it there are some times where you absolutely have to get something from the store or do an errand.) And today, I am proud to say, that I recognized my kid was being horrible and I didn’t drag him to the store. Even if we didn’t have any bread, milk or fresh food in the house.
But let me go back a bit with where this all began. Years ago, my good friend R* and I were talking about kids and tantrums in public. Most likely after seeing a kid doing just that while we were downtown. She explained to me that if she had a choice, that she would rather keep her ill tempered kid at home than to subject herself, her unhappy kid and any bystanders to her child’s bad mood and most likely screaming. R consciously does/did not want to have an outing or trip to the store leave a bad taste in their mouth. Why make a bad situation worse, if you can avoid it all together? If the trip to the store, or perhaps pharmacy, was not a must, she would rather wait until her kid was in a better mood or wait until she could go without the kid later.
We’ve only ever had a couple of small tantrums with Paxlet when we have been out and about. One of them I can remember clearly: he was about a year and a half old, still toddling (wobbly walking) about and we were in a local mall. For some reason, he didn’t want to walk anymore and flopped down on the floor. I scooted him out of the main walking path and let him do his thing. He wasn’t screaming and wasn’t really disturbing anyone. In fact, I got many smiles and he got some laughs. Another time, more recently, he wasn’t listening to me and so I put him in the shopping cart. He started screaming! I kept my cool, talked to him and managed to get him to stop screaming within a couple of minutes (or I would have walked out of the store with him and left the shopping behind, although thankfully this time my MIL was with us). Other times, he has cried or screamed a bit, but it was short lived and he calmed down quite quickly. So maybe they were full blown, down on the ground, kicking and screaming tantrums, but they were his type of tantrums. I would like to take the credit for the lack of tantrums in public, heaven knows we’ve had plenty of them at home, but I think a lot of it has to do with Paxlet being a pretty mellow and easygoing kid.
Back to today… The morning started off quite good. Then as the day progressed, Paxlet started getting a bit restless, not wanting to listen to a thing I said, acting reckless and wild no matter what I said (remember, he wasn’t listening to me). Once Tadbit woke from her nap, we all eventually got ready to go to the store. Paxlet didn’t want to go to the store and was fussing/crying for one reason or another before we even got into the car. He then unzipped his jacket seconds before I put his seat belt on and then started crying that he was cold and wanted his jacket zipped back up after I had started driving. He screamed/cried for several blocks, at which point I said, forget it, we’re going home and turned the corner to head back home. I too started to cry a bit. Paxlet then started crying that he didn’t want to go home, he wanted to go to the store. I tried to tell him why we weren’t going to the store, but it didn’t matter, he continued to cry. He didn’t want to get out of the car or go inside, but did do them even if he screamed and cried the whole way. He finally calmed down when I asked him if he wanted fish sticks and pizza for dinner.
*Her oldest daughter is now 6, 3 years older than Paxlet.