October 5, 2012

The Public Meltdown of An Almost Two Year Old

I am so fascinated by how parenting changes people.

For me, I went from a strict Type A personality where I had schedules and looked put together to barely remembering to put on deodorant, forgetting which day of the week it is much less if anything needs to get accomplished that day, and allowing myself to be look completely incompetent in public.

Yes, if you were to see me today, you would see my hair pulled back sloppily, ketchup hand prints all over my white shirt (which thankfully I can't see because of my extra large boobs and ever growing stomach), and barely any make-up to even make it worth mentioning. On top of that loveliness, you would have witnessed my being publicly flogged by my almost two year.

Parenting really does amazing things to people.

A year ago, I would have never in a million years thought that I would allow my son to act so horribly in presence of others. The screaming, the loud "NO!", the thrashing of his little body on the sidewalk would just not be part of our life. No, in those moments, I would be quick. I would be smart. My son would listen dammit!

But the truth is my son listens just like any other two year old... when he wants to... when it is something he likes or wants... And by no means NOT when I need him to or when I want him to listen.  Nope. My son would rather fight me like a bull than walk 15 feet to our car while holding my hand.

And this is where I become "that" parent.

I watched. I watched as my son cried. I watched as he flailed his body on the sidewalk. I watched as he screamed at the top of his lungs, "NO!!" He was not going to hold my hand or be held. He was going to walk by himself across the very busy parking lot that was filling up for lunch hour.

And all I did was watched. You see, I've learned something about my son over these last 10 months as he's gotten personality and his own little voice. There's no reasoning with him. He doesn't care what I think or what is best. He just knows what he wants.

So I have learned that I have two options. I can fight him in these moments or wait. Wait until he gets a grip of whatever emotions he's feeling and realize that I will always win. Yup, it's what makes me an awesome mom. I know what's best in his little life and he just has to deal.

This morning was no different. Once I saw a break in screams, I calmly asked him if he was done.

Public meltdown #2 quickly commenced. This time we had plenty of spectators. We were right by the door to the restaurant. They had all parked their cars and were now wanting to eat except my son was blocking the door.

And this is where parenting gets really fun. I remember being them. I remember thinking, "why can't she control her kid??"  "Just pick up the stupid thing and get to your car!" "You're the parent.. show them you're in charge."

But, you see, I was doing all that and more. My son wasn't winning, because I wasn't giving in to his demands. I was in control because I was being calm in one of the most humiliating instances of my life. And I was diffusing a situation while allowing my son to learn on his own how to handle his emotions, deal with not getting his way, and realizing that it was more important for him to be safe crossing the parking lot than to be independent.

The second time I asked him if he was done, he said yes, took my hand, and walked to the car without a complaint. He just needed to see and to learn that listening to me is best right now. And that if I want him to do something completely different from what he wants to do that doesn't mean it is the end of the world. It just means that maybe I have a bigger picture than he does.

Once I got in my car and got the red off my face from the total shame of The Public Meltdown, I realized that getting publicly humbled just might not be that bad of a thing for me. Maybe it will teach my son that I am willing to meet him wherever he is and however he needs it in any moment so that when he leaves my house he can maneuver the world we live in confidently, strongly, and able to do whatever he wants with his life.

At least I hope that these moments have some purpose other than to totally abase me in public.

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