Before yesterday, I had never experienced a public meltdown with Carter. Strangers hand out compliments in restaurants as I take them in and beam with pride. I go to the grocery store, Target, the mall, and other shoppers smile at me while he peacefully chants “mommymommymommymommy” up and down the aisles. Somehow, coming up on birthday number two, I feel a change coming on.
Yesterday I scheduled Carter an impromptu urgent-care Dr’s visit. I went straight from work to pick him up from daycare, and we headed to our 6p.m. appointment. Being by myself, I was nervous. The Dr’s office is generally not an entertaining place for a toddler and although I was hoping this wouldn’t be a test, I was pretty sure that it would be.
Being a good mother is not all innate. Most of it comes from trial-and-error and experience. For example, I learned that Carter usually likes a snack after daycare, so I stopped at the vending machine on the way out and picked up a bag of Cheez-Its and a bottle of water for him since we wouldn’t have time to stop at home. Imagine me patting myself on the back for thinking ahead and going in “prepared”.
“There’s no way Carter will have a meltdown at the Dr’s. office. I have snacks!”
Right? Yea, no. The moment I got Carter buckled into his car seat, he started to whine. So I smugly pulled out my bag of Cheez-Its, feeling like a veteran mom. I pour a couple of them into his cup holder and his face lights up with excitement. All I hear is humming and crunching — the sweet sound of victory. But in my head, I’m thinking that I should have gone down to the Starbucks on the first floor and grabbed one of those apple juice boxes before I left the office. Mental note for next time.
The drive to the Dr’s office was short. But as we’re pulling into the parking lot, Carter started to whine again. *deep sigh* Here we go. I turned around and very sternly through my teeth told him to “Cut.it.out.” It worked. Another small victory. Oh, but these were only two small battles in what was soon to be a war…and I was about to lose.
We park, I get out and lift him from his carseat…and here we go again. He wants his backpack. I’m pretty sure he thinks there are more snacks in there. There aren’t. His backpack is empty and the snacks are in my purse, but you can’t reason with an almost-two-year-old. So I pick him up as a distraction from the backpack and carry him into the office. He’s quietly observing his new surroundings, pointing and saying “Dah-dee”. Cool. Babble away kid. I just need to make it upstairs to pediatrics so he can play with the toys. I’m so close, yet so far. At the check-in counter, I put him down so I could get his medical card out of my purse. He. Has. A. FIT.
This is new behavior and uncharted territory for me, so I’m not really sure how to respond outside of the comforts of home. It feels like every occupant of the waiting room had their eyes locked on me at that very moment. I kept my composure, handed him the bag of un-eaten Cheez-Its and turned back around to try to get him checked in. As we’re finishing up, I hear the sound of a bag hitting the ground, followed by the grunt of a frustrated toddler. He was over the Cheez-Its, and this was feeling like longest five minutes of my life…if it was even five minutes.
He proceeds to fall out on the floor AND roll around. I look up and my eyes are met with judgement from onlookers who I’m sure were thinking unsavory thoughts about “this young mom not knowing how to control her child”. I turn back to receptionist so we can hurry and finish checking in, ignoring the burning feeling of all the eyes on the room fixated on me. Instead of doing her best to get me checked in so I could deal with this sourpatch kid, the receptionist felt it her civic duty to ask that I “please pick him up for her”…Yes. Instead of minding her business and doing her job, or even offering him some consolation if she wanted to be of help, She asks if I can pick him up…for her. Would she have asked someone’s grandmother to pick their tantrum having child up off of the floor? If I appeared to be her age would she have asked me to pick him up off the floor? I suspect not. #Judgynonparent for sure. But I picked him up so we could move on.
He eventually calmed down enough for us to get checked in, and make it to a seat where I was able to pull up some videos on my phone to keep him entertained (what did parents do before phones?). My feelings of embarrassment quickly subsided and feelings of relief took over. He was done and I didn’t have a nervous break-down.
I’m a young mother. I DON’T know what I’m doing. But neither did anyone else when they experienced their first public meltdown. I’ll just continue to let experience be my teacher.
So what did I learn from THIS experience? Juice. I’ll definitely get the juice next time.