In the days before I had a child, I would look pityingly and somewhat disdainfully on parents whose spawn lost it in the cereal aisle, screaming uncontrollably about Count Chocola and how if they had their way, said Count would be their parent and they would eat pure icing sugar for dinner. I would give the parent a sympathetic smile, and mentally tut-tut the obvious lack of boundaries and discipline that must have been the slow catalyst for such events. I was, as in so many areas of parenting wisdom, so naive!!!
Judah will be two on Thursday. He has so (so, so, so, so) quickly gone from a tiny, helpless, infant in my arms and more often than not, attached to my chest, to a very independent entity more than half my height, who frequently takes delight in running as far away from me as possible. Somewhere in the transition from tiny to two, Judah discovered his will and the power to apply it over his parents'. We in turn instituted the tiny time-out. Judah is pretty much the poster child for the time- out method. From day one, when we placed him on the quiet step and explained to him why he was there, and when he would be welcome to rejoin the remaining group of people who weren't kicking, throwing their beverages, or shouting "go away!" at their grandparents, he would sit and stay and sometimes cry a little remorseful tear, but more often than not just roll around on the floor for a bit before smiling and returning to the group as a reformed offender.
This worked, and for the most part continues to work well at home. In public, however, it's a bit of a different animal.
The public tantrum is a fairly recent phenomenon for us. At first most of Judah's public crying was triggered by horrifying social interactions with strangers, for example, an old man telling him he liked his hat, a cashier offering him a sticker- the stuff of psychotherapy sessions.
Now his crying stems primarily from two things:
1. Judah's overwhelming desire to stay wherever he is as opposed to going anywhere else. It doesn't matter if he's currently in the public bathroom of Tim Horton's and we're telling him we're going to see unicorns riding in hot air balloons. He'd rather stay put.
2. His ideas of what he wants to be eating and where.
He has taken a recent fancy to the large part of the grocery cart - not the semi-safe child seat - the big part. Preferably in the carts with really low walls...and with a pint of unwashed blueberries to eat beside him.
Tonight we were at the Superstore (aka the "walk 3 km through patio furniture and clothing to find food" store) picking up a few last minute supplies for our camping trip. Luke had scoped out some beautiful Ontario raspberries to stick in the child seat area of the cart with Judah to keep him occupied while we shopped. Judah, however, had different ideas. He wanted to sit on all the groceries in the danger zone area of the cart. You know, the area with all the yellow caution pictures of children falling out.
Raspberries taste sweeter when at any moment you may get a concussion.
Luke, being the amazing, authoritative, follow-through parent, explained to Judah why this was not a good idea, and how if he just sat in the seat, he could enjoy his berries and everyone would be happy. Judah, in turn, threw himself on the floor, crying "go away" (his protest statement for any situation) and attached himself to the bottom of the cart like a good Greenpeace activist, making us both a public spectacle and immovable.
What to do? I will admit, I was extremely tempted to just stick him on top of the pistachios and let him have his raspberry joy ride. Thankfully my right hand man- who is also my frequent voice of reason when it comes to Judah, offered him a choice. You can sit in the seat, or we can go back to the car. Judah wouldn't relent, and suddenly Luke and he were calmly marching back to the parking lot. And by calmly, I mean Luke was stoically carrying Judah over his shoulder like so many pounds of potatoes and Judah was shouting "MAMA! DADA! NO! GO AWAY!" It took almost the whole walk back to the car before Judah was "all done." My boys re-entered, smiling. Judah happily settled himself into the child seat and ate his raspberries as though nothing had happened. I, once again, thanked heavens I am not parenting alone. If I were, I'd definitely have a bag of crushed pistachios and a much less peaceful family about now.
So our navigation into the world of terrible twos has begun. 99% of the time, I really love this age. I love that Judah can, for the most part, communicate his needs and his wants. I love his unabashed affection for us. I love his wonderment for the world. I know we'll get through the tantrums- private and public, hopefully with enough love and consistency to have helped shape a really nice human in the end.