Saturday, April 23, 2011

The day that will live in infamy

Thursday evening, a sunny Canterbury tavern. These two pints are for my dad and me. And they are well-deserved after the day we had spent. (For the record mine is a slightly alcoholic pear cider (yummy), dad's an ale.)

Flash back in time to about four hours earlier. The scene of the crime (insert Law and Order bump-bump music here) was this peaceful medicinal garden on the grounds of Canterbury Cathedral. Or should I say formerly peaceful?

The victims, these mild-mannered visitors who seemed to be posing for some picture. I think they were part of a church choir.

The suspect (no, we know it was her!), this nearly three-year old who only moments before was singing and delighting visitors.

Until all he** broke loose. I had the bright idea to let her down to run around this lovely garden a bit. Which she did in the way only toddlers can, sprinting from her and there freely, grinning ear to ear. But we couldn't stay there forever. And she started darting under a little fence (the one seen on the right in this picture) and I feared she would get out of my reach. So I gently asked her to come on back and walk another way.

That's when she started screaming "no". And thrashing about. And turning wildly and slapping me if I tried to get close. Her hysterical screams breaking the calm of the gorgeous April day.

The choir crowd I'm sure was looking over and smirking or muttering, why can't they control that child. We tried everything in the book. From gently holding her arms back, to taking her into a quiet corner to calm her down, to a little pop on her leg to rouse her back into reality. And let me say I'm the type who reserves this for very bad moments indeed or when she's put herself into harm.

Nothing worked. We tried to put her back in her stroller (and it did take the two of us) but she started banging her head on the bar of the stroller. So I tried all of the above again. Finally I picked up my pride off the grass and held my squirming demon child and started walking. I motioned for dad to follow with the stroller. And we walked out of the courtyard and finally got her into her stroller and left the grounds. We're probably banished for life. She kept whimpering all the way back to the hotel.

And so over our pints and good English dinner, I asked my dad if I had ever had a tantrum that bad when I was a kid. He said yes, but luckily he didn't gloat. So this is your revenge day? I asked. Because earlier we'd been saying that one day Juliette would have a child and know what it was like to bear this kind of tantrum in public.

But seriously, people, I'm starting to think we've got a problem here. You know I love her to death, but when she's acting like this, frankly, I dislike her. And I'm mortally embarassed. It's one thing when she acts up at home and I can put her in her room. But in public, that's not possible. And she disturbs the peace and there's nothing I can do but leave.

Of course, afterwards she calms down, mutters sorry and things slowly go back to normal. But in the heat of it, nobody is happy.

Just before we left Dover to return to France, we saw a mom holding her screaming boy in the park. My dad and I exchanged glances. But we didn't judge her. We'd been there ourselves just a few hours before.


Crystal said...

I think her behaviour is probably entirely normal for her age. My mom says I used to throw terrible tantrums as a toddler but quickly grew out of it and became a very shy, reserved kid. You could always ask the pediatrician for advice or just keep trying your techniques. Don't worry though - Im sure there are MANY other moms going through the same thing :)

Lindle said...

Yes, I do believe you threw a few. I'm sure your dad remembers Williamsburg, VA, where you erupted into a doozy and sat down on a plank sidewalk refusing to move. I remember being so embarrassed and wanting to crawl under a rock. Then there was the Famous Food World Tantrum, which ended with me putting all our groceries back on the shelves and taking you out to the car where you looked at me strangely and wondered what had happened. Then there was the time when you went out into the front yard and shouted to the neighbors that I was a child-abuser. (You were six at the time.) The funny thing is---I don't remember THAT many. I think we dump a lot of those bad moments (the historical ones are permanently archived in our brains), but we remember the sweet moments more.

Anonymous said...

Apparently I was the most hellish first child a mother could have! I used to have wicked tantrums and was locked in my room to have my crying fits which usually ended in me crying myself to sleep. The cat was usually my best friend during these tantrums. But I did grow out of it (well, sometimes I do have tantrums now!). And my middle brother was perfect, no tantrums at all and the youngest was in between us both. Good luck but I'd say it is perfectly normal.

Jenenz said...

Yes, the tantrums do occasionally happen. We all have melt downs once in a while. It's just difficult then the melt downs happen in public. Remember the 99% of the time she is the wonderful juju. Lesson learned is to not judge others or yourself. Stuff happens. And then the best returns. You're great parents!

Amber said...

I am not looking forward to the day we have to deal with this! I'm sure you are a great mom and that there was nothing that could be done differently. At least those people don't know you, and i'm sure it's already long forgotten for them.