Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Just Your Typical Lunch Date

Temper tantrums.
They'll test a parent's limits like nothing else will.  And since my patience runs low on a good day, a bad tantrum is guaranteed to send me over the edge.
Especially a public one.
For me, the only thing worse than someone eyeing me with evil judgment during a tantrum is someone who tries to help during one. Today that someone happened to be toting an oxygen tank. 
That bit of detail is crucial to this story. Because clearly there's nothing more comforting for a screaming, irrational toddler than being approached by a total stranger with tubes up her nose.

I felt guilty, I really did.  

Guilty that I wanted to shove this woman aside and beg her to please stop trying to console my maniacal daughter.  After all... she was someone's mother.  Someone's grandmother.  Someone who truly wanted to help.  
But as far as I was concerned, she only made matters worse.  

And then, I stopped feeling guilty. 

Between Mackenzie's screaming, kicking, and thrashing, and this woman's insistence on lending a hand, I had just about lost my mind.  
As visions of padded rooms and straight jackets danced in my head, I decided it was time to compose myself before all hell broke loose.  I reached for the closest thing that could serve as a distraction -- my bag -- and started fishing through it.  For what? I don't know.  At that point I just needed a few moments to collect my thoughts and take a nice, big, deep breath.  
Well, wouldn't you know... the kind, old, oxygen-toting grandmother took a stab at me.  Kicked me while I was down.  "Oh, Mommy is too busy for you right now,"she whispered to Mackenzie as she stroked her head.  

Mackenzie screamed louder, a look of fright enveloping her tear-stained face.   

I just about knocked this woman over.  
I'm serious.  I know it sounds terrible.  But I was mad.  No... furious.  And I was hurt.  Hurt that my own daughter had turned against me, IN PUBLIC, and that somehow I managed to come out the bad guy.  
Realizing this should have been my first line of defense, I finally picked Mackenzie up and held her close to me, despite the crocodile tears, the back arching, and the throwing of keys, cups, and anything else she could get her hands on.  I held her tight and asked the woman to kindly give us some space.  
Mackenzie managed to calm down within a matter of moments and broke loose from my embrace.  
She was fine... up until the point where she ran right smack into the corner of a table.  
Again, I picked her up, squeezed her tight, wiped her tears.  
And again, she escaped my arms, running directly into the corner of another table.  
We went through the motions. 
By the time we made our way out to the parking lot and into our car, my previously psychotic daughter had transformed back into her usual self, giggling as she repeatedly uttered the words "naked" and "boobie".  But while I managed to force a laugh along with her ("naked" and "boobie" admittedly are funny to say) as soon as I closed the driver's side door I broke down into a pile of tears.

I sobbed the entire way home. 

Was I a bad mother? 
Was Mackenzie's behavior my own fault? 
Should I have given in to the temper tantrum? Ignored it? 
Did I care too much about how other people reacted? 
As I pulled into the driveway I decided it was time to stop feeling sorry for myself and SNAP OUT OF IT!   Tantrums happen.  Why? Who knows.  There are plenty more where that one came from.  And I'm just going to have to deal with them like every other parent out there.  I can't cry like a big baby the next time around.  

One of us needs to be in control.  

Mackenzie knew she'd pushed my buttons a bit too far today.  
When we finally got inside the house she made a beeline for the front door, reached for the knob, and gave me a curt, "Bye-bye!"

I just about died laughing.  But honestly... part of me wished she could go take a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood so I could close my eyes and forget about the last hour's chain of events.  
Temper tantrums.  
They're truly harder on us than they are on them.

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