It happens to all of us at some point and, for most of us, it's going to happen far more than we'd like. I'm talking about tantrums — that perfectly normal, ultimately-short-lived phase that nevertheless makes parents around the world want to crawl into a hole and... not die but, like, maybe just not exist for a little while. It's bad enough when it's happening in the privacy of your own home, but when it's out in the world? With an audience of strangers? The worst. So you better believe there are things every mom thinks when her kid throws a tantrum in public. Things we're arguably better off keeping to ourselves, for better or for worse.
Every kid is different, of course, and tantrums may strike more or less frequently and at a variety of different ages and be well within the spectrum of what's considered "typical" behavior for your child. And most kids will (generally) stop having them with any regularity as they mature and learn how to cope with anger, sadness, disappointment, or being tired or hungry. After all, it takes time and a slew of learned experiences to learn how to deal with Big Feelings without screaming and crying. (I'm still working on it, to be honest. Just ask my husband.)
But even children of a more logical age can still sometimes give in to the siren's call of a temper tantrum. Mostly, however, we're talking toddlers. You know, those tiny, powerful, irrational, but oh-so-adorable creatures who know just what buttons to push. And in those moments, our internal monologue goes a little something like this:
It's the slow-motion, deer-in-headlights realization that this is happening and there's really nothing you or anyone else can do about it. It's the sudden rush of emotional memory (and adrenaline) that brings you back to the last time it happened and you're instantly panicked.
"Not Here. Not Now."
It's always the worst possible time and place, isn't it? Like that time my son had a meltdown at a funeral. (He wasn't overcome with grief, mind you, he was just being a pill.) That was by far the worst situation, if not his worst tantrum, but it's always awkward.
"Honestly, This Isn't A Big Deal, Kid"
After the initial panic subsides, I find there's always that moment of, "Seriously? This is what you're choosing to get bent out of shape about?" Or even the, "I understand getting upset, but this is absurd." And you don't even feel upset about it... you're just confused. It's an emotional reprieve; a moment of mental clarity to think quietly to yourself (or under your breath, or not so quietly at all): "What the f*ck, kid?"
"Please Stop Please Stop Please Stop"
You're in the bargaining stage, hoping your child will feel your desperation and take pity on you.
"How Are You Making Those Sounds?"
The shrieking, the snarling, the volume, the grunting... honestly, this cacophony is unlike anything you've ever heard come out of their little bodies. It's like they've been saving it all up for this very special occasion.
"When Did You Get So Strong?"
"Seriously, dude, you're, like, 35 pounds! How are you presenting even a little bit of a challenge? Is it because you can somehow go boneless? Is it your childlike flexibility? Were you hit by gamma rays when I wasn't looking and now you have Hulk Strength? I just don't understand how your core strength is this powerful. Damn."
"Are You Actually Possessed?"
Honestly, I'm waiting for the green vomit and head-spinning. I'm pretty sure we're about four seconds away from profound and effusive profanity.
"Everyone Is Staring"
You can feel every set of eyes within a 100 yard radius boring into you to varying levels of judgment, amusement (and, yes, occasionally sympathy), and you do not care for any of them.
"Someone Is Going To Call The Cops"
You know you're not doing anything wrong, but you know people can be very... people-y... and do silly, uncalled for things. Maybe they don't clearly see the situation for what it is and think a child is in trouble. Maybe they just know nothing about children and think you're handling the situation so poorly they need to involve the authorities. Sometimes they just don't know how to mind their own business. This has never happened to me (the fact that I'm white and in my 30s probably helps), but I still live in fear that, someday, someone is going to get the wrong idea and make a bad situation a million times worse.
"I'd Seriously Love To Just Give In To You Right Now"
Sometimes it would be so easy to give in to their tiny, terroristic demands.
"Where Did I Go Wrong?"
Search for a start point all you want, mama, but you won't find it. It lives in the darkest and most mysterious recesses of your precious little one's weird baby brain.
"I'm Never Going Out In Public Again"
It just seems like the easiest course of action.
"Actually, *You're* Never Going Out In Public Again"
There was no problem before this little monster started kicking up. You're not the problem. You have nothing to be ashamed of. They're the ones who have forfeited their right to be seen in public. Surely it would be OK to just leave them at home until they turn 18. You've seen Tangled: Mother Gothel did that to Rapunzel and she turned out awesome. (Bonus, you'd save a ton of money on haircuts!)
"You're The Worst"
It's OK to think uncharitable thoughts like this (and worse, TBH) about your kids from time to time. Because sometimes they are the absolute worst.
"When Does This Stage End?"
Depends on the kid, but it's always longer than you'd care for. Until then: courage, friend.