Saturday, August 05, 2006

3, 2, 1, Meltdown

On certain days, I'm feeling a bit green. But on this particular day, I'm feeling especially GREEN!

It's Friday, Ian's going to two birthday parties this weekend. One for a two year old, and one for a five year old. The clock is ticking, so Laurel, Ian and I run to Target. Since Laurel is now an independent sitter, I decide to let her ride in the shopping cart and have Ian walk alongside me. Mistake number 1.

Laurel is pleased as punch about sitting in the cart. Ian is also excited about being out of the cart. (No big surprise there.) We go to the card section first. Ian squeals with delight and points out everything he sees. "Mommy, disaur on card. Mommy, Elmo on card. Mommy, frog, green frog on card."

To my detriment, he realizes he can take the cards out of the display case and starts showing them to me. "Ian, put the card back please."

"Mommy, Elmo on card." Proud of his find, he holds it up for me to see.

Elmo's head is slightly bent from Ian's overly exerted grasp. I think to myself, it's Elmo, it's a birthday card, and the two year old will probably never notice the crease. I quickly get an envelope and put both in the back of the shopping cart.

"Ian, don't touch the cards. Just look at the cards." Mistake number 2: I say this standing over him as I continue to look for another card. I know better than that, I need to bend down and make eye contact to get his attention.

My request is in vain. Before I even finish the sentence, he's holding another card.

"Mommy, cake. Mommy, cake!"

"Yes, birthday cake. Let's put the card back."

I now realize my mistake of letting Ian run free in the store, and quickly find a birthday card suitable for a five year old.

"Come on Ian, let's go."

I push the cart out of the aisle and soon notice he's not following. Mistake number 3. Duh, like a two year old is willingly going to leave an area containing pictures of his heroes (Elmo, Bob the Builder, and especially CAKE!).

I go back and lead Ian by the hand this time. Surprisingly, he doesn't put up much of a fight. I know Laurel needs clothes and head in that direction. Mistake number 4. I should grab only what I immediately need since Ian isn't contained.

As I look around trying to find infant sized clothing, Ian pulls his hand free. I think he'll be alright on his own around clothing and let him go. I mean, how interesting could clothes be to a two year old? Mistake number 5.

I turn my back to the kids to look at some shirts (mistake number 6), and then hear something that tells me my attention is needed. Ian is extremely busy tossing tiny pink shorts into the cart. "Laurel wants pants," he proudly proclaims.

Quickly I try to put the shorts back onto the shelf they came from, but Ian is already on the move. He's now holding several shirts that are obviously going to be tossed into the cart. Getting a little smarter, but not by much, I hold his hand and begin putting the clothing back. Coming to my senses, I realize we need to just get the birthday presents and go.

We enter the toy department. I am still holding Ian's hand as we cruise the aisle looking for something of interest to a two year old and a five year old. Excitedly, Ian yells out, "Mommy, fire truck," and manages to escape. He stands in front of the fire truck, somehow managing to keep his hands to himself. I decide to let him look at it as I scan the rest of the aisle. Mistake number 7. Alright, alright, I can hear your head shaking at me. What two year old is able to resist the temptations of the toy aisle? None.

As you guessed, it's not long before Ian is taking the boxes off the shelves and I'm on clean up duty. He obviously is not listening to me, and I finally grab the cards out of the back of the cart and put a very sad Ian in. He begins sobbing. Quickly I look around to see if there's something I can get him to cheer him up. Small cars smile at me from nearby shelving and I reach for them.

But alas, I come to my senses. What was I doing? I was going to reward Ian with a toy for acting innappropriate. Forget that! I put both hands firmly on the cart and search for the needed presents. Fortunately, it's not long before I see a fun toy for the two year old.

With Ian still sobbing in the cart, we move on to another aisle. We walk towards two Target employees stacking merchandise. I swear they ran off as soon as they saw (or more likely heard) us coming. Oh well, I'm not pacifying my screaming toddler with a toy! I ABSOLUTELY REFUSE! We search three more aisles before I finally find a present for the five year old, Ian crying the entire time.

As I bend down to put the gift on the rack under the cart, I look at my little guy with his tear stained face. "Ian, we've found the birthday presents. We're ready to go bye-bye."

He calms down, sniffles and softly weeps, "Go bye-bye."

I pay for the presents, load the kids into the car and head home while thinking about what had just occurred. I made several mistakes that I will learn from (yeah, like next time leave the kids with their grandparents), but in the end I felt it wasn't a complete disaster. This was the first time Ian has thrown a tantrum in public. Despite his pulling on my heartstrings and the stares I'm sure we were receiving, I did not cave and reward Ian's unacceptable behavior.

And what of Laurel, you may ask? She was good as gold, she fell asleep sitting/laying in the top part of the shopping cart.

Pictures of Ian at the parties. He actually got to play trucks with Elmo!


Merry Mama said...

You must have nerves of steel. You just effectively described a scene from my "early days." We should get a bunch of us blogging mommies together and write an "Early Days" book about what it's like to have toddlers...and a life.

beth said...

Good for you for not giving in! That's amazing. I'm not at that point yet with Sam (although he has started this awful screaming thing...) but when the time comes I hope I won't reward the tantrum.

Oblivious Maven said...

My goodness. I had the card incident and the clothing incident Walmart though, lol. I didn't get a toy, either. "Because you haven't done a good job keeping your hands off of stuff."

Yeah, us. :o)

carrie said...

Wow, that Elmo totally distracted me - it's huge!!! We too, did a little Target b-day gift adventure last week, with all the kids and I swear, I must be into torture or something. We ended up getting a "2" card for a 3-year-old and I am fairly certain that I am banned for saying "don't touch" too many times to my boys who couldn't keep their busy hands off of anything!!! LOL!!! See, it gets so much better when they're 7 and 9! Hee hee.


Elizabeth said...

That was a fantastic story! Good for you for staying strong. I'll be there soon enough, my little boy is 14 months. Feel froo to swing by my blog

mo-wo said...

An inspirational and cautionary tale for many of us. thanks.

Jennifer said...

Oh my goodness! I was standing at my kitchen counter while reading this, and totally riveted by your story simply because I've just gone through one of the most harrowing weekends with my 3-year old ever! The hair on my neck stood up as I read, "...mistake # so and so..." Is there something in the water this week? Are the planets misaligned???

Bravo to you for not caving! I will be remembering your will the next time(s) mine is tested.