Everything was fine until it was time to depart from Gymboree (of the endless Thomas the Tank Engine video) for the second time. Charlie had been getting whinier and whinier (and even managed to convince me that he had dropped his bus, one of his favorite toys, in The Children's Place, despite me swearing that he had left it in the car. No bus and I still have no idea what he was talking about) and being ripped away from the TV for the second time that day was more than he could handle. I could tell he was disappointed, but he was handling it well, so when he showed interest in a coin operated firetruck outside the store I thought "What the heck?" and plopped him into the driver's seat, deposited the last of my toll-road quarters and pushed the button.
Immediately, he was The Happiest Toddler in the World. Pushing the siren button. Giggling. Beaming angelically up at me.
Then the ride stopped and he hopped out and headed for an airplane nearby. "Another one!" he said cheerfully as he started to climb in.
"Oh, sorry buddy, only one ride today!" I said I as I picked him up and put him back in the stroller.
It was as though I had slapped him. Huge, fat tears sprang to his eyes. He wailed all the way back to the car.
As it was happening I was confident that he was just overtired and hungry and having a tantrum. And it was a tantrum of sorts, but not the type of thing I was envisioning when I thought about The Terrible Twos. He wasn't being bratty, he was just crushed that he didn't get to go for another ride. CRUSHED. And that thought made me sad.
Obviously, I would never give in to such a display. And of course totally losing your stuff over a coin operated airplane at the mall is totally inappropriate behavior that should be discouraged. But he is only two! And once the initial smugness of knowing that I was maintaining calm and being firm just like Super Nanny says wore off, I started to feel kind of bad for him. Once he started to calm down I said "Did you have fun on the fire truck?"
"Yes" he said sniffing.
"You wanted to go on another ride, didn't you?"
"Yes" more sniffing.
"Well, riding the firetruck is a very special treat. You only get one ride. Maybe you can go again the next time we come here. Maybe you could show Papa the firetruck!"
Quietly, "Special treat".
Even though I know I wouldn't have changed anything about my reaction, I felt kind of bad about the whole thing all evening. Then this morning while he was eating breakfast Charlie said "Rode firetruck!"
"You got to ride a firetruck?"
"YEAH! Push button! Woo woo woo woo!" (there was a button to run the siren)
"Wow, that sounds like fun!"
"FUN!!! Rode firetruck! Button! Woo woo woo woo!"
I think he got over it.