Last week my three-year old, Blake and I were at Wal-Mart ( I know, I know, but I really needed taco shells). I was using the self check out and Blake was looking at all the useless crap they put by the registers. He brought over a lollipop/airplane thing and asked me if he could get it. Now, I have never once let my children get any of these items, yet they ask each time they are with me at the store. I said no, and turned back around to check out my groceries. I felt something hit my leg and I turned around to see my usually sweet and funny three-year old with his little hands on his little hips and his face all scrunched up. He started jumping up and down like he was Rumpelstiltskin and yelling ” YES! MY WANT THAT–NOW!!!!!!” I was in shock because although he is mischievous and crazy, he is not bratty and is not one to throw fits when told “No.” He was yelling ” YESYESYESYES!” over and over again. I finished paying for my items and grabbed his little hand and forcefully “escorted” him to the car. I gave him a good talking to and got into the car to go home. He was asleep not 5 minutes later. I looked at his sweet little sleeping face and was reminded of all the fits that my other children have thrown over the years. Coincidentally, most of them have been at Wal-Mart or Target. Go figure.
My children in general, are not big public temper tantrum throwers. Well, except for my 5 year-old, Brady. His tantrums were epic. The kind that left me shaking and sweating and wondering if I should find a local priest to stop by our house for a little exorcism. Thankfully, he grew out of those tantrums and my other kids only threw a couple that were monumental.
When my oldest son, Cooper was about 20 months old, I took him to Wal-Mart with me to go Christmas shopping while my daughter was in preschool. Now, I know you’re thinking that was a bad idea, but let me explain. When his sister was little, I did all my Christmas shopping for her while she was right there in the cart. I just gave her a book to look at and a snack and she was good to go. She never fussed and was always very easy. Well, Cooper was NOTHING like his sister.
We turned onto the toy aisle and things got real bad, real quick. He was strapped into the cart and he was looking from right to left very quickly. He started to pull at the buckle and yell ” Out! I want to get out!” He was pointing at any and every toy saying ” I want! I want!” The tears came next, followed by pulling his own hair and screaming. I had never seen anything like it. ” I want it mama! I want it mama!” He wasn’t even pointing at anything in particular. He started bucking up and down. If he had been an adult, a 5150 hold would have been placed on him immediately. It was ridiculous. I got out of there as fast as I could, leaving a store full of staring people. Needless to say, I did the rest of my Christmas shopping while he was at home with my husband.
About a year or so later, my sister was visiting us and she wanted to go to Target one afternoon. I was pregnant with my third child and my daughter was 4 and son was 2. We rolled into Target and decided to get the kids an Icee, with the hope that would keep them busy so my sister and I could shop. I now think that those things actually make my children monsters, due to all the dye and sugar in them, but I digress. So we were walking along and browsing, the kids followed behind us drinking their Icees. We walked past a toy display and my daughter asked if they could get whatever it was and I said no. Well, that was the beginning of epic fit number two. She started whining and asking why she couldn’t get the toy. Then my son joined in, just for the hell of it. My sister and I were doing our best to ignore them. Somewhere along the way, my son started running with the Icee in his hand. I turned and told him to slow down because he could fall. Two minutes later, I heard a crash and a cry. Sure enough, he had fallen down and his Icee was spilled everywhere. Before I could stop her, my daughter tripped over her brother. Her Icee flew out of her hands and landed with a splat right next to her brother’s. Well, they started to have total and complete meltdowns. The screaming began, ” MY ICEE! I DROPPED MY ICEE! I WANT MY ICEE!” The scene was awful: red Icee all over the floor and two kids lying down next to it, kicking and screaming. I looked at my sister who was laughing so hard, tears were rolling down her cheeks. I wasn’t mad because we both suffer from “nervous laughter.” The more inappropriate it is to laugh, the harder we laugh. So of course, I start laughing. I’m sure it was quite a sight to behold.
I was trying to get the two of them to stand up and I slipped in the damn red liquid and fell down next to them. That started them crying harder. My sister was hysterically laughing at this point. Then, the security guard came over and asked if we needed help. I thanked him, but said that we were fine. In retrospect, I should have accepted his offer .
Somehow, we managed to make it out of the store. I was dragging both of them out of their by their hands. They kept doing the ” dead weight drop” move. The one where they let their bodies go limp and drop to the ground. My sister (still laughing) picked up one and I picked up the other and we started to the car. There was a cart in my way and I pushed it too hard. I watched as it rolled right out into the parking lot, almost hitting a car that was driving towards us. I couldn’t do anything about it though because I was carrying my flailing son.
We finally made it to the car and somehow, put them in their car seats. My sister and I both sat down in the front seat, looked at each other………..and started to laugh.
The next temper tantrum also took place at Target. This time, I had all four kids with me. I try to avoid Target with kids, especially on a Saturday afternoon, by myself, but I needed to get a gift for a party that my oldest son was attending that day. My husband was out-of-town, so I had to suck it up and go with the kids. Before we went in, I had a talk with Brady,who was three at this point. He had a problem with Target and toys and he knew it. I kneeled down next to him, looked in his eyes and said ” Okay buddy, no asking for toys. We are here to get something for one of Coop’s friends, not you. Do you understand?” He nodded his head, closed his eyes and took a couple deep breaths, ” Yes, mama. I can do it.” I felt confident that things would be alright so I buckled my 8 month old into the stroller and we were off.
We were browsing the toy aisles and I could see that Brady was barely holding it together. He kept looking away from the super hero toys, saying ” I won’t ask for anything.” Over and over. Coop picked out a gift in a relatively short time and we headed to the check out. I thought that all was well until we passed the dollar section and Brady spied his downfall……..rubber ducks. Tons of them. Great, I knew we were screwed. He turned to me and pleaded with his big blue eyes, ” Mama, can I please get just one duck? Please, please, please? Just one? It’s in the dollar section. Just one?” I sighed and said “Brady, come on. Do you remember what we talked about? We are not buying anything else today.” His eyes started to well up with tears and he hugged the duck close to him. ” Yes, I love him . I want it. YES!” My other kids knew that things were going to get ugly, so my daughter took the stroller to the register and Coop followed.
“Come on Brady, let’s go.” He started full on crying and hyperventilating. ” No! I want a duck! Yes! Please mommy, please.” So I pulled him over to the register where he sat down and began screaming ” I. WANT. THE. DUCK!!!” He had the duck in a death grip in his hands. I tried to pull it away but I had no luck….with the duck .
At this point the other kids were so embarrassed that they moved away like they didn’t know us. Brady was laying in the check-out line, screaming, crying and writhing around. I decided to focus on paying for the toy I had. After the toy was paid for, I bent down and picked up my spazz of a child, which was not easy-that kid is built like a line-backer. The poor cashier looked very scared at this display. She looked at me and asked me if I needed a gift receipt. ” Uh, I think we’ll take our chances, but thanks.” I yanked my bag away from her with one hand while trying to hold Brady with the other. As we were rushing out of there, my daughter said ” Mom! He’s still holding the duck.” Sure enough, he still had the ding dang duck in his little hands. I put him down and tried to pull the duck away . He kept screeching ” NO NO NO! I LOOOOOVVVVEEEE THE DUCK!!!!!!” I finally got it away from him and he started jumping up trying to grab it out of my hands. I looked at him and at the duck and knew we had to get out of there FAST, so I made a swift decision………I threw the duck over towards the dollar section where it came from. I picked Brady up and turned around to my stunned older kids and said “GO!” We hot footed it out of there in record time.
I’m happy to report that after the “duck incident”, Brady never had another meltdown in a store. Well, maybe a couple, but never one that epic. The kids still reminisce about the time “Mom chucked the duck” at Target. It took me a couple of days to recover from that one and I still wonder if I hit some unsuspecting Target customer with a flying duck.
In short, temper tantrums are a part of childhood. I feel lucky that my children have never made them a habit and I feel like I have earned another “badge of parenthood” for surviving the ones that they have had. I still feel bad about the duck though……..