It was bound to happen sooner or later. Although my little dude is prone to tantrums aplenty, they by and large happen at home. Makes a girl's life slightly easier that way. But today, we ended up in a Wendy's, attempting to have lunch when we should have been at home napping...
Some background. I got a mighty marvellous and somewhat uncomfortable-making present for my birthday. And that is the gift of someone else coming to clean my house once a month. I love it. It is SUCH a relief, mainly because, if I haven't confessed this a million times already, I am an absolutely crap housekeeper. At the same time, it is uncomfortable-making because I am all feminist-y and get antsy about the politics of hiring someone broker than you to do your own dirty-work. Know what I mean? Anyhoo.
My new lovely once a month cleaner was apparently startled and distressed by the utter grossness of my house and it took not one, but two hours longer than she thought it would. SO - after haircuts, driving around for his sisters' car-nap, and an hour long gymnastics class, my Boy-o was done in. But we got home to the kitchen being cleaned and the news that we needed to vacate the premises for another hour or so. SHIT. I thought maybe the lure of fastfood might solve the dilemma. Enter Wendy's....
We waited in an excruciating long line. As we stood there, I wondered to myself how much longer my Boy-o was gonna be able to hold it together. He sat at our table, checking out cars and jealously covetting the fast-food headsets. (He seemed mightily pleased when I told him he could likely have one of his very own when he became a teenager!). I managed to juggle Girlio, the gargantuan diaper bag, trays of food, thingy's of ketchup and a highchair - no easy feat. We sit down with our food. I get Girlio's food arranged, then cut up Boy's chicken fingers. I taste a piece of chicken to make sure it won't burn the little dude's mouth.
BANG! Lips aquiver.
BAM! Eyes well up.
WHAM! Commence wailing.
WHACK! Pump up the volume.
BOFF! Finally he enunuciates enough to demand that I take that piece of chicken "out of your tummy!!!"
Yes- I got slapped by the public tantrum. Hard. I tried all the tricks in my bag. I tried reasoning (Mama can't get the chicken out of her tummy, honey!). Wheedling (PLEASE - let's just eat and then we'll go home an dhave a nap together). Hugs. Commiseration. (I Know buddy - it sucks that Mama ate a piece of your chicken. You're tired and pissed off. I'm sorry). Backrubs. Bribery (Let's calm down and then you can have a sip of Mama's diet coke). I try the whole toddler-ese business (which made me look like a total fucking lunatic and was not effective in the least this time.) I tried limit setting (Dude - if you can't calm down, we're going to have to go.)
And then, as every single eye in the entirety of Wendy's is firmly affixed to my person, I contemplate (with no small amount of panic and dread) how exactly I am going to get a screaming 40 pound child, a baby, a bag of fast-food and a diaper bag out to the car. (We are clearly, clearly in need of a Superman for parents. Glaring hole in the genre of superheros - just putting that out there in case any unemployed superhero is reading this now and looking for a new niche market).
I decide to give it one last try before attempting "exit impossible," even though I know in my heart that the poor little dude is done-in, and that this is a situation of my own making. I say "Buddy - If you want to stay and eat in the restaurant, you need to make some different choices." I clarify - "You need to make the choice to calm down".
And then, from behind me, some woman (dining with a 6 or 7 year old child) decides, in her infinite wisdom, that she should open her mouth. And not in a "gee lady, you've got the world on your shoulders right now how can I help kind of way", but rather a "I'm a really big bitch and I'm gonna pretend I'm a better parent than you way." And she makes the ill-advised choice to say really snarkily to my child (after all, we ARE ruining her dining experience at WENDY'S), that he'd "better learn to make different choices". (WHY WHY WHY do parents need to be judge-y jack-asses to each other?!?!? Stop. Stop. Stop it right now!).
I decide to pack it in right then and there, before embarassing my wife thoroughly by becoming a violent offender, but not before shooting this woman a look that should have caused her to wither up and die. (I must have been having an off day).
Somehow - I do it. I drag the 40 pound child, carry the 20 pound baby, the diaper bag, and a jumbled bag of crappy fast food to the car. Every time I let go of Boy-o to put Girlio in her carseat, he makes a mad (and I mean that in all senses of the word) dash back to the restaurant, through a crowded parking lot. On the verge of tears, I finally solve this dilemma by holding the scruff of his shirt, pinning Girlio to the carseat with my head, and buckling her one-handed. I take back what I said about the superhero job openning. I'm my own superhero, God Damnit. And then, I try for approximately 15 minutes to stuff the 40 pounds of exhausted, angry and out-of-control Boy into his carseat. Do not underestimate the difficulty of this feat. I will not need to work out for days.
Head home. Put children down for naps, 2 hours late, while cleaner is still cleaning.
(Why, oh why am I such a crap housekeeper?)