Friday, January 19, 2007

Not Even Gravy Could Make Pride Taste Good Going Down

The London broil mistake and gravy soaked mashed potatoes went down silky smooth last night. Not bad as today’s lunch re-run either. Never made a better mistake if I do say so myself. Too bad we didn’t have any leftover garlic bread and Cesar salad to stuff ourselves with before naptime. After the morning I’ve had, some serious emotional over-eating was only a matter of time.

I swallowed so much more than unhealthy amounts of microwave reheated food today, namely my pride. That I swallowed hard in front of a crowd of people waiting for the local library doors to open for the day. I nearly offered to put their staring eyes back in their heads as my 2- and 3-year-old trailed behind me, announcing our riotous arrival with tantrum screams and flailing limbs.

I couldn’t help but wonder if the shady looking gaggle of ogling onlookers at the library were on a rare release from rehab or some other reform program. All twelve or so characters clutched cigarettes, sucking on them for dear life, knowing they wouldn’t be allowed to burn tobacco in the hallowed halls of the digitized Dewey Decimal System.

I swear some of them looked so grave as they collectively, carelessly contributed to a growing cloud of carcinogenic smoke around my spazoid fitful children that they reminded me of death row inmates taking their last living drags.

The whole smoky scream scene was a drag. So much so that I bailed.

“That’s it,” I barked. “This simultaneous fit is OVER! I’m not going to allow both of you to scream like this, demanding to be picked up every where I go, all the time. Trailing me like you don’t know how to walk. I can't hold TWO kids at the same time.” Trust me, my days holding both of them are long over thanks to a spent S.I. joint.

Neither kid cared, still shrieking, tears streaming down their hot heads, encircled with plumes of cigarette smoke from a dozen inconsiderate, gawking strangers.

I care. I care too much. I absolutely HATE when my kids scream in public. It mortifies me. All I can think about is what other people think. I feel their stares like barbs against my tensed up skin. The louder the screams, the deeper the barbs dig. Just one eardrum rattling kid screech is all it takes to render me a human irritation station.

Today was the last time I’d flee in response to the screaming. This time, when faced with fight or flight, I scooped up the kids and flew home in our minivan. Straight for the stroller.

“If you are going to scream like babies, you can ride in the stroller like babies!”

Yes, I actually said that. Mean, cruel or not, it worked. My dueling duo of wailers clammed up like I’d just given them a lollipop.

I zipped the five miles home, left them strapped QUIETLY in their car seats, marched up the driveway to the garage and grabbed the stroller.

Slam! I flung the stroller in the back of the minivan and slammed the back door shut.

“I don’t wanna’ go the library. It takes too long. We have to be quiet,” lamented Cheeks from the way back of the minivan, from the last row of Scooby Snack crumb littered seats.

“Sorry, kid,” I said. “We ARE going back, but this time we’re not going to have fits. No screaming. No kicking. No wailing.”

I was determined to show my mini scream team that they can’t get what they want, play me out, just by screaming in public, something I completely abhor, down to the bone. This they know, so they often pull the screaming bit to get me to flee wherever they don’t want to be.

Not this time. I would face my embarrassment of their public fits and screams head on. We were going back. The library would be opening in five minutes. The smoky crowd might still be lined up at the doors, waiting for them to open, continuing to build a massive exhaled smoke cloud.

We pulled in the parking lot. I sprang into action – releasing the lock on the stroller, springing it open like an umbrella, robotically strapping the grimacing newly quiet kids in one by one. Methodically going through the motions of our second chance. Our re-run. This time, the kids would be quiet. No tantrums. They lost the privilege to walk on the sidewalk with their fed up mother. They had to remain strapped into the double stroller, looking glum and defeated, for the entire library outing. And that’s just what they did.

A gazillion dinosaur, airplane, NFL football history, anatomy and Magic Schoolbus science books later, I too exhaled. At least my expelled air was clean, unlike the work-release looking smokers who now grinned in the direction of my stroller bound children instead of furrowing their brows with repugnance.

Stroller straps are underrated. So is standing up to your kids in the midst of their worst public fits.

I’m proud of myself for following through. For choosing fight over flight.

Poor kids. My strict stand continued all the way through the steamed broccoli they pushed to the corners of their fluorescent plastic IKEA plates during lunch. Not giving in and handing over a brownie before they finish all their broccoli is much harder than you’d think, especially if you are extremely noise (scream) sensitive mom like me.

Now they’re napping. Don’t bother me. I’ll be busy enjoying the golden silence.

When was the last time you took a stand with fitful little ones and how did it work out?


At 5:41 PM, Blogger liv said...

You rock, my sister. Maybe the monster preschooler is going around today! Little D and I went on a dog walking and tricycling block jaunt this afternoon. D decided that we were going to the park which was NOT happening due to time crunch before yours truly had to go and get calm in order to teach ANOTHER yoga class. Through screams and cries, I walked on with the dog and denied my young monster the opportunity to make me crazy. I did not crack and/or break. HA! Mom 1; Kid 0.

At 8:10 AM, Blogger Julie Pippert said...

Screaming and whining make me the mom I never want to be.

My policy is: ignore it, and it will stop (and eventually go away)

My action on this is: inconsistent (I tend to break before the kids)

The result is: the whining and screaming haven't left our lives

Lather, rinse, repeat

I can't stand it. It horrifies me in public. It terrifies me in private.

I STG the noise physically HURTS me.

At 10:25 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

Nothing makes my blood boil faster than that whole screaming thing. Gah. I've had to leave stores and banks in the middle of the service. I think most moms at some point or another have been through this. And you can usually tell the moms in the crowd because they are the ones either smiling out of "yes I've been there" or smiling because "I'm so glad we're out of that stage." heehee.

I think you handled this sitch beautifully.

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Erica AP said...

I don't have kids but my dog is completely crazy when I take him out and I get sooo embarrassed when he barks and makes noises like he's being abused - but really he is just excited because he saw another dog... God - it frustrates me to no end.

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