It was one of those days that I knew I was looking into the eyes of The Beast. A three-year-old blonde bundle of dread had come to play.
I have very little tolerance for whining. I would rather be rolled in raw hamburger, dangled over a pit of hyenas, and left for dead than be locked in a car with a whining toddler. And this particular whining child was right in my ear.
With my mother’s assistance, I was determined to have a pleasant day on Sanibel Island. Hadley had other ideas. She preferred to stay in the hotel and play in the pool. Also, she was deeply disturbed that her grandmother’s dog was staying in the room with a Dora episode playing on the television.
As I tried to calm my child by denying a five-pound poodle Dora the Explorer, I suddenly realized it was time for me to play Mean Mama. If I was to survive the day, I needed to take control. I left the television channel where it was, firmly held Hadley by the arm, and dragged her to the car. I wrestled the Shrieking Octopus Child until I’d safely secured her in the car seat.
The morning steadily went downhill. Hadley was surly, stubborn, and struggling to take the entire family into her private hell. But, on the other hand, I was equally determined to keep my sense of humor, despite an intense urge to leave her on the side of the road.
The nightmare came to a head when we sat down for lunch. Hadley climbed under the table and tried to make a quick escape. I grabbed onto the back of her sturdy dress with no intention of letting go. While the waitress took our order, Hadley made sounds not unlike that of a feral bobcat as the table bounced every time she lunged.
Eventually, she did return from her cave to join us for lunch. She insisted on chicken strips and milk but ate only ketchup. It was her lesson to me not to mess with her.
Within two minutes of getting back in the car, she was down for the count. She succumbed to sleep like I’d given her chloroform (I swear I didn’t). When we got to the beach, I wheeled her in her stroller to the edge of the ocean. I reclined the seat and prayed she’d sleep the devil away.
When Hadley woke up, she was still feeling feisty. She decided to proceed with Torturous Toddler Round Two. The series ended at the hotel room as she tried swinging the door open and shut. As she made her second joyous slam, Hadley almost crushed my right hand. For the first time in her life, I swatted her on the bum.
She responded, “I hate you, Mama!”
There is nothing like a toddler saying they hate you to make you wonder why you had children. Of course, you know in your gut that they don’t mean it. Or maybe they do deep in the little black soul of a three-year-old?
In hindsight, I know these events are preparation for the bigger fights that come as kids age. So I try to remind my children that my job is to keep them alive until they turn eighteen. Like it or not, I have to do whatever it takes to get them there.
For me, it’s one down, one to go.
Tell me about your kid's most memorable tantrum and how you dealt with it...