I get the weekly updates on my children’s growth and development from Babycenter.com. This week the update for the girls (Your 15-month-old: week 4) made me laugh a very sarcastic and pain-filled laugh…
This week’s email:
It may be embarrassing when your toddler throws a full-blown screaming fit in the middle of the produce section, but rest assured that other parents feel your pain. The most useful response is to take your child out of the store (even if it means leaving a cart full of food behind) and sit with him in the car or on a bench until he finishes crying. When the storm is over, your child will feel close to you and happy again. And you can take some comfort in knowing that eventually your child will outgrow this behavior.”
I fully support the idea of taking your screaming child out of a store regardless of the inconvenience to you. I’ve seen many parents with one screaming child in tow (who obviously missed their nap) who seemed confused and embarassed over what to do next. TAKE THEM OUT! Why are you letting the behavior continue in a vain attempt to get what YOU think is important done (and I include getting milk because there is not a drop left in the house as a PARENT’s problem, NOT the child’s–and yes, we’ve gone 24 hrs before with no milk in sight because it was MY fault and I couldn’t rectify it at my children’s expense). I’ve never actually had to take Punkin out of a store but there have been MANY times when I was a second away from doing so. I’ve sat him for a time out on the end of clothing racks, turning my back on him (keeping him in the corner of my eye) because he was misbehaving so badly it couldn’t be ignored. I was always ready to drop everything and get out of there to reinforce the lesson of “how to behave in public” or really just “how to behave”. Maybe he sensed that and had sense enough to shape up. But the world was different when it was just Punkin and I…
I giggled when I read the update because that’s a great idea with one child… but what about when you have three or four with you? (see I’m already looking ahead to what my life will change into this summer!) “The most useful response is to take your child out of the store (even if it means leaving a cart full of food behind) and sit with him in the car or on a bench until he finishes crying.” Now take a moment to visualize my standard grocery shopping trip: I always take the “fancy” carts with two or more seats so I’ve got toddler #1 strapped in next to toddler #2 with Punkin either sitting or walking along with us. If toddler #1 decides to start screaming while the cart they are strapped into is full of food what should I do? Unstrap both toddlers, pick them up, one under each arm, grab punkin by the shirt-tails (in a hand already holding a squirming toddler) and book it out of there to then go find a bench and sit with them? Have you ever seen two 16 month olds sit quietly for more than 2 minutes? Even that is pushing it… I have to have both of them on my lap for a semi-organized bedtime story and we don’t always get to the end of the book! Throw in that one of them is freaking out completely and you’ve got a recipe for a child escaping her frantic mother and running wildly through a parking lot. I think not.
I know you’re asking yourself… “Well, smarty pants, what DO you do then?” Here’s the big secret that no one in my life seems to get: I plan my life around the few hours a day when I am 99% sure I can get 45 minutes of peace from my children. Well, that and I always pack snacks.
Seriously. Even my extended family is often exasperated at my strict adherence to naptimes and seeming inability to be flexible when it comes to taking the twins out to eat or go somewhere. It’s because I’m no fool. It’s because I’ve LEARNED from painful experience (many people at the grocery store and Sam’s Club can attest to the start of my learning curve!). As they grow I flex what I consider to be “safe zones” and I do push them to the limit occasionally but I accept the consequences of MY actions at those times. You will not see me and the children leaving the house for any kind of errand after 11:30 (naptime is 1-3 and there is lunch to squeeze in there… plus, God forbid, they fall asleep in the car at that close to naptime–the rest of the afternoon is shot!). You will rarely see me out and about running errands after naptime either because dinner falls too close on nap’s heels. Don’t mess with meals or naps. Basically I have from 8-11 to get all my errands done on any given day. Too bad two of the three stores I shop for groceries at don’t open until 9… grumble… grumble. (Incidentally Home Depot opens at 6am)
It’s a twin thing. Maybe it’s also a 2nd child thing (I have a hard time differentiating) I’ll let you know more on that once I’ve had another singleton after the twins (give me 5 months). Were it just me, one toddler and Punkin I could pick up and leave the store on a whim and go sit in the car or on a bench until said toddler calmed down but when you have twins you just dont’ have the same options (cause you just don’t have enough arms!!!). Timing and snacks are EVERYTHING to a mother of twins. And I do, literally, mean EVERYTHING.
So, I’m going to rewrite that line of the Babycenter.com newsletter: The most useful response is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Give in to the fact that you can have a semblance of control only if you first release the idea that you can really control any aspect of your own day. And always pack lots of snacks.