Thursday, April 29, 2010

How it happens.

I discovered a couple of new blogs the other day. One, a blog where anyone can submit their "drive-by meddling" stories of well-meaning strangers offering them unsolicited parenting advice -- That Baby Looks Cold! -- and another, found via a story posted on the former, generally relating the funny things that happen when you're raising small children -- Parenting Ad Absurdum.

The post that particularly caught my eye was this: How I was totally judgmental before I had kids.

In short, the author relates that before you have kids, you judge parents you see out in public, based on the small glimpse you're given of their day, their kids, and the way they handle them; yet once you have kids of your own, you start understanding how the frazzled parent who snapped at their youngster for something seemingly small, or the parent blatantly ignoring their child asking them questions, or the parent with the clearly-underdressed-for-the-weather child could have gotten to that point.

I had a friend tell me recently that his wife -- they are childless, I might add -- couldn't believe some of the parenting she'd seen going on while she was out one day. One example was of a child screaming at his mother in the restroom that he didn't want to go potty and you can't make me etc., and the mom just sort of ignoring it and dragging him along, anyway. I will admit, even having a child of my own, I judged the mom being described -- if the kid doesn't have to pee, don't make him pee, and why are you letting him scream at you like that??

Fast forward a couple of weeks, to the Friday after my father-in-law's birthday. We were to have a family dinner at a buffet place nearby -- myself, my husband, my parents-in-law, my brother-in-law, and my grandmother-in-law, along with, of course, my three year old son, who, I found out early during dinner conversation, had refused to take a nap that day. (Note: my parents-in-law watch my son during the day.)

"I wanna go with Mommy!" *clings to Mommy's leg; Mommy and he go to get a plate of food*
"NO I wanna go find Papa!" *yanks hand out from Mommy's grip, runs into a crowd of people, shrieks when Mommy calls his name to Come Back Here Right Now*
"NO I WANT PAPA TO DO IT!" *sees Papa, runs to him, Papa says he'll take care of it*

Back at the table, the plate Papa filled for him is in front of his chair, which he refuses to sit in. "I wanna sit with Papa!" Fine. "I don't wanna take a bite!" Fine. What do you want? "I don't want ANYTHING! I'm full! I'm all done! I want down!" Well, we're all still eating, please sit at the table until everyone is finished, and then we'll go. "No I want cake!" You'll have to eat some healthy food before we get cake. You have fish and green beans on your plate, let's take a few bites. "No I'm full! I want cake!" You can have cake, after you eat some healthy food first. "I'm full! I want down!" Please stay in your chair.

Daddy goes for seconds, and then Papa, while Mommy here still has the same food on her plate from Round One, with about 4 bites taken, total.

"I wanna go with Daddy!" Sorry buddy, Daddy already walked too far away, we'll let him know next time. "No I'll go find Daddy!" There are too many people around and I don't want you to get lost; please wait here for Daddy. "I wanna go with Papa!" Heavy sigh. I take bite number five.

After having generally everything argued with, I stopped responding except for occasionally reaching over to grab his arm and hold him in place in his chair, which would, of course, make him scream. Finally realizing that nothing he was doing was getting the desired response, he pulled out his golden ticket: "I need to peepee!"

I put down my fork, because I am that mom on A Christmas Story who doesn't get to eat her own hot meal, I grimace at my husband because of course there's no notion that anyone other than Mommy could take a child to the bathroom, he smiles apologetically while eating his second plate of food while my first is less than 1/4 eaten so far, I grab my son and we walk nicely to the restroom. On the opposite end of the restaurant.

Before we even make it to the restroom, I'm already hearing protests of "No I don't want to peepee!" which I ignore. We walk into the bathroom (of a buffet joint. on the low-income end of town. in which the floor is sticky.) and my son is doing his damnedest to pull out of my grip, screaming at me "No! I don't want to peepee! I don't want to peepee!"

And suddenly I am reminded of both the blog post I stumbled across, and the mother witnessed by my friend's wife.

I am that mom.

I turn to the lady in the restroom who is washing her hands and pretending to ignore us and tell her flatly, "This is after he insisted that he needed to go." She smiled an "I'm a mom, too, I get it" smile and left, thankfully leaving the entire restroom empty so that I could beat my child within an inch of his life and have no witnesses.


Instead, he got a very stern talking to about how I listened to him and he told me he had to peepee, I was trying to be a good responsible Mommy and take care of him by getting him to a potty, and it was not nice to tell me he needed to peepee and then yell at me for taking him. He stopped screaming and used the potty. We washed hands, used the air blower to dry them (which he loves), and I thought to myself, Good, we have an understanding now.

Which, of course, we didn't.

We got halfway back to the table before he was pulling out of my hand again and running away into crowds of people again and yelling at me for asking him to stop again and demanding to sit with Papa and not eat any of his food again and proclaiming that he needed cake again and finally, after e-freaking-nough of that, and after he started just plain screaming rather than even screaming words at me, I proclaimed myself Done.

I stood up, grabbed my purse, grabbed my screaming child, left my 2/3-full plate of food on the table, and walked out of the restaurant.

He was, would you believe, screaming at me the entire walk out to the car. I was not responding to him in the slightest because I knew if I did, I would freaking lose it on him. My primary concern at that moment was simply making it to the car instead of throwing him in front of one.

Kidding, again.

We got to the car, I jostled him around but did not put him down, no freaking way to dig through my purse-that-eats-car-keys to get the car keys, unlocked the car, put him straight into the car seat, battled flailing arms and legs to buckle him in, moved to the front seat, and planned to sit there for as long as it took for my husband to come out with us but I was not talking to him anymore. Scream away, kid, Mommy's checked out. Mommy's sitting in the front seat in her happy place where there are no screaming children and she gets to finish a meal without being asked to wipe anyone's nose.

My husband wasn't too far behind us -- had apparently just taken enough time to apologize for our son's behavior -- and once he started sternly talking to our child about What He Had Just Done and Why That Was Not Okay, with information comprehensible by a 3-year-old such as "That was Papa's birthday and you made Papa SAD and made Mommy and Daddy MAD by screaming, fighting, and not listening!" The child argued back, "I wasn't all done yet! I'm still hungry!" and uh oh, he said the wrong thing, and my MadMommy floodgate was broken.

I wasn't all done yet either and I'm still hungry too and I just wanted to eat dinner and have a nice boy and Papa just wanted to have dinner with his family and you were NOT A NICE BOY and you made us SAD AND MAD and YOU SAID YOU WERE ALL DONE AND DIDN'T TAKE BITES AND YOU WEREN'T SITTING IN YOUR CHAIR AND... well, etc.

By the end of the 10-minute drive home, he had fallen asleep.

Well, that explains it. Tired, plus the fact that his argumentative side comes out in an exponential factor correlating with however many adult authority figures are around for him to see if they really mean it.

And that, folks, is why that mom was dragging her kid into the bathroom even though he was screaming that he didn't want to go, and why she wasn't responding to it at that point to try and get him to stop screaming.

At that point, putting a jacket on him for a short walk to the car in chilly weather is just a battle not worth fighting today.


Hippie Housewife said...

"And that, folks, is why that mom was dragging her kid into the bathroom even though he was screaming that he didn't want to go, and why she wasn't responding to it at that point to try and get him to stop screaming."


I'm sorry you guys had such a rough time. I have definitely been there.

Right now we're spending 3 weeks with my parents, which means 3 weeks of "please Jacob behave even though they feed you sugar for breakfast and always have the television on and it's always loud and you're overstimualted by constant yelling and three little aunts fighting over who gets to play with you but please please just behave anyway and don't give grandma more reasons to judge and criticize me and my parenting". It's going to be a looong three weeks.

parenting ad absurdum said...

Oh Karyn, what a good and honest story! I feel like I was there. In fact, I've been there!

Thanks for the shout out, and for introducing me to your fantastic blog as well.

And re: the post below - the pics of your adorable boy - I look often, at my kids' newborn pictures and wonder where they went. Every new stage is incredible, don't get me wrong, but oh, I miss my infants.