Thursday, December 18, 2008

The temperature climbed out the thirties yesterday so I was able to take a break from scratching tally marks on the wall above my bed and do some Christmas shopping. Hobby Lobby and Target weren't enough to send Charlie into a raging tantrum, even after getting stuck TWICE behind People Who Don't Speak English But Have A Million Questions And Are Oblivious to the Crying Children in your Cart (I'm not being snarky, this woman truly did not speak English, it was like Saturday Night Live), so after his nap I decided we should head to the outlet mall to look for coordinating pajamas for the entire family (the kids in the entire family...I will likely sleep in my clothes Christmas Eve having collapsed in a heap of tissue paper and tape and gift receipts and a half-finished dissertation homemade blanket for Wesley).

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.

8 comments:

My Buddy Mimi said...

They are pretty resilient at that age. It's amazing what rolls right off their back and what minor transgression they remember and bring up (again and again and agin) several weeks later.

Rima said...

Awe, the poor little dude! But you totally did the right thing. I betcha he'll reaaaaaaly appreciate that fire truck the next time around :)

Sarah said...

Awww so cute! I remember being pregnant with Jack and taking Harry to the mall food court to ride the coin operated rides and not having the energy to say no and deal with his screams. I put a roll of quarters in those puppies and stayed there until Ben got off work and could meet us.

Harry and Jack got matching Christmas Eve jammies, too! They'll get them for the 4th night of Hanukkah...

KC said...

That was total fatigue +/- hunger talking, from plenty of experience with the Jolester. They just can't seem to regulate their emotions sometimes, especially if a little worn out around the edges. Bipolar little ones.

AJU5's Mom said...

Aren't you glad they only remember the good parts? I think you did the right thing, but I know it is tough (well, will be in another year for me)!

Kyla said...

Yup. They are resilient like that. But it can still be sad in the moment!

Dr. Maureen said...

*I* think you handled it BEAUTIFULLY. You validated his feelings without condoning his inappropriate behavior. Gold star for you!

Homestead Mom said...

I'm totally going to start using the 'special treat' concept.

I try to think about how many incidents like yours that *I* remember from my childhood when I am in the midst of them, and there aren't many. This gives me heart.