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Friday, September 30, 2011

Lose your Embarrassment Meter

You almost can't be a parent to toddlers if you are easily embarrassed, humiliated or sensitive. They will see you. They will see your weakness. You will perish. Okay, maybe not, but it will feel as if you're going through the seven gates of hell. At least once a day.

It all starts with a bad idea. For me, today, that idea was bringing the girls to the toy store (should have listened to you, Janel).

I had the option of bringing them out for a short jaunt before nap to buy a present for our friend whose daughter turns two tomorrow, or of waiting until naptime and going myself, possibly getting a coffee and sitting down with a friend for a moment. I'm not sure why I hate myself, but I chose the former. I thought it would be nice to get them out of the house or some such nonsense. Never again.

It started out just dandy. Toys R Us had a clearance table outside with random toys you know your child will just pick up and pocket, or throw a fit over before you've even entered the store. Great idea, Toys R Us. Fortunately, at the beginning, you can say, "Let's go see all the other toys!" And your kids are like "Yay! Toys!" And you're off. Unfortunately, that blasted table is still there when you're done shopping and you really really really need to get back to the car right now or else.

Then, you enter the store, and what is with all the balls everywhere? Seriously? Because as a mom, all I want to do in a toy store is bend over every few seconds and put your balls back in their kid-accessible containers. And that's not counting the errant bounces that knock over DVD displays or get stuck in back-to-school clearance items. Sorry, I'm not fishing for those because I have two kids to watch. Two kids who just took another ball out of your kid-accessible container. Dammit, kids, I said Put It Down.

Why can't you be like grocery stores and cage those round, bouncy monsters in so that the kids can poke at them longingly but never really get their grubby paws on them? My patience would run longer and your merchandise would stay fresh--as in not scattered all over the ground after being pummeled by a big pink ball that "now bounces up to 15 feet!" Great.

Then it's turtle stuffed animals and matchbox cars and stickers and blocks. Finally, there is a train set. Thank you, Toys R Us, at least for that. The kids play with the train while I quickly grab the present we're there for. It's buy one get one half off so I grab another toy for my girls, thinking it will help get me out of the store with no hassle. That's laughable, isn't it?

So now I have an extra toy on my hands that I can give to someone else because the girls' exit performance was such that they are never going to play with another toy again. Ever.  Okay, just kidding, but it was bad, and they're not getting the toy I bought them and told them I bought them. Consider it a broken promise, I don't even care.

Even with all of this, though, I considered the trip going well. The twins were putting things back (eventually) when I asked them to, they were moving along at a clip just faster than molasses but slower than a tortoise, which I think is top-speed for a toddler in a toy shop, and they hadn't tantrumed once. We were nearing the finish line now.

And here's where the bad idea became the worst idea ever...if you are reading this, heed my warning. You know those cheapo car-like, merry-go-round things you can stick a quarter in and they give the child a 30-second ride?

Just say no.

I had a death wish this morning, and after a fairly incident-free trip where I was now facing the doors of freedom literally just feet away, my children saw one of those cars, and I thought, well, why not? They deserve it.

Don't be like me. This is where, as parents, we need to save our children from themselves.

First of all, the ride is not a quarter anymore. Prices have risen since 1985, apparently, and 30 seconds now costs you 50 cents.

Guess how much change I had?  Go ahead, guess. I can't make this shit up.

I had FORTY NINE cents.

And the guy would not let me change 24 cents for a quarter. He was firm. Meanwhile, as I'm begging like an ass, my kids are on the verge of meltdown (not there yet, just teetering) because the car that they knew was supposed to turn on was not turning on.

A mother on her cellphone handed me a quarter and smirked at me. I should have been grateful, but, really, I just wanted to smack her. Mind your own business if you're going to be mean about it, okay? I'm sure you have awesome, amazingly well-behaved children at home, and if you don't you at least have enough brains to leave them there when you go to a toy store, but leave me and my misery alone.

You may think I'm being harsh. I might be because usually I would be very thankful for a kind soul like that. But when I went to thank her, she brushed me off and seriously stuck her nose in the air. Like actually stuck her nose in the air.  Okay then.

So I pop her pity quarter in the machine and the car starts to go, and that's when everything shatters to pieces. The babies wanted to put the money in. And since I had, their little world was smashed to bits and it was all my fault and I find myself in the parents' nightmare of being in a toystore with two little creatures who are trying to show everyone that someone is in charge in this family and it's not mommy.

Let the head shaking, the ear blocking, the hate-filled staring and the jaw-dropping begin. Because on a tantrum scale of 1-10 this was a 10. And I have two of them. So it was a 20. And it was over sticking a quarter in a car the right way.

I don't think so.

Last year, I would have been so embarrassed, and, you know, I was embarrassed still, but I didn't let it show. I scooped those children up, one under each arm (have you ever seen a mother of twins storming out of a toy store with two bags in her hands and two 35-pound children wriggling away and screaming to be put down? It's hilarious, I'm sure. At least at this point we were entertaining to the onlookers, right?)

We get to the car. I strap them in. I am pissed. I am that super mom pissed you only get, like, once every four months or so when you simply cannot stand any more nonsense and enough is too much.

Once driving away, I gave them the sternest talking to they've had thus far in their little lives. I did not spare them, nor was I gentle with my voice. It was raised, it was low, and it was serious.

By the end of it, they had gone from screaming in retaliation, to disagreeing with me, to trying to explain their position, to kicking my chair, and I never desisted. I never compromised with them. I continued to tell them over and over again why that behavior was unacceptable and why it was never to happen again. Over and over and over and over. Repeat, repeat, repeat. See, babies? You've at least taught me something. After the chair-kicking stopped, they became more reasonable. I began to get responses like, "Okay, mama. I understand. I be good. I be nice. I'm sorry."

I hope it sticks. The only thing we can do when these things happen (which they will for even the best child, now and again), is push forward and keep on keeping on. Don't lose yourself in the embarrassment of the situation. It won't help. It will distract you from the overall goal, which is: Get out. Get away. Teach your kids what was wrong about that in the privacy of your own car/home/stroller/whatever. Feeling embarrassed, looking around at those who would judge you, trying to shush your child in the store itself to prove your parenting prowess (after the tantrum reaches a certain stage, of course. There are some instances where you can pull this off. Today was not one of them), trying to reason with the child, give the child what she wants to shut her up, use logic with Too late, too late.

Get out. Get away. Otherwise you might not make it out at all.

Good luck.


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  1. Good job, mom, a difficult situation handled adroitly. Right on !~!

  2. You handled a tough situation very well. My daughter usually cries when I forgo any attempt at keeping control of my voice when chastising her. I have been in the situation where not letting her do something causes even more frustration and anger on her part than is warranted. Were they over-tired at this point? I'm glad they started to see reason on the trip home.

  3. Yeah. I mean, I'm sorry you had the experience yourself. I did try to warn you. I really did.

    It's like the way they set up that damn store. Seriously, Toys R Us can suck my fat... well. ANYWAY.

    My twins will go again when they can drive the car there themselves.

  4. Why wouldn't you just spank them? They would think twice before behaving like that again.

  5. This is where it helps to have an Autistic toddler. If I spill all the damned balls out and tell him the ball needs to go away he has to put away ALL the balls.
    When it's time to go we sing an "All Done" song and we go. I'm pretty lucky that the kid just does not throw tantrums unless he is super hungry or really tired. Then again I'd give up his easy going nature if he would communicate with us.

    I'm not against spanking, my parents reserved it for very serious things and I don't think this would have been a time for spanking.
    I think if you don't let the girls get away with it any time and give them that tone more often they will learn who is the boss.

    It's almost like training a dog, if you are going to punish you need to do it when it happens (so they get the punishment is for what they just did wrong) and I doubt smacking your girls in public would have allowed you to keep them with you.

  6. Oh yes, the large-squirming-children-football-carry-with-bags was a specialty of mine for most of their 3rd year. Somehow Barnes & Noble sticks out in my mind as the most frequent culprit, possibly because I was far too scared to ever take them to TRU.

  7. So Janel is my wonderful aunt and I've been reading her baby blog a lot recently, and she links to yours via facebook constantly, so I've been just surrounded by babies on the internet. I really love your voice and narrative, and your babies make me really happy!

    I feel like a tool though, because I just found out Dulce is "dool-say", and for about .5 seconds I was ANNOYED AS HELL because that screwed my reading of her name, like, now I stumble over it in my head. xD But it's such a beautiful name, so I got over it.

    I'll be 20 in a couple months. My mom never stopped having kids so I've always been around young'ns. It's hard for me to read all this stuff and not want one of my own. Too young though, much too young. <3

  8. Aww, thank you! Janel is wonderful, I agree! And I'm lolling that a story like this one could bring desire to children...hahaha! I'm sure you'll make an excellent mother when the time is right for you!



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