The boys had a nice nap, ate some lunch, and then we went to "Santa's house".
They did so well with Santa too! No smiles... but no tears so I say it was a win in my book! MyBigBoy was a little confused and didnt know what he was so supposed to do and I have no idea what MyLittleGuy is doing with his hands... but its precious! haha.
Once we finished with that we walked over to the craft table and MyBigBoy colored and then we looked at the train (his favorite!).
Then, after a super fun and relaxed afternoon, MyBigBoy peed his pull up. Which really isn't a big deal to anyone.... except to him. He wants to immediately take it off -- right there, by the train, in a crowded room with strangers. There is no negotiating with this boy with big feelings. He tries and tries to take his pants off and I plead with him that we need to go to the car or to the bathroom.
He falls to the ground in tears.
I start getting the looks.
You moms know what I am talking about. The judgmental looks from people without kids reminding themselves to never have them. The sympethetic looks from other moms who remember what those days are like. The harsh looks from those moms who maybe parent differently and they think you are doing it all wrong.
I stood there by the train track, MyLittleGuy in the shopping cart, MyBigBoy flailing himself all over and EVERYONE was staring.
I scooped up my mess of a son and put him in the cart and started to walk out.
Here is something I have learned about my boy in this short season -- if I try to repress his feelings - the feelings get bigger.
Which makes sense.
Have you ever been so angry and someone tells you to "calm down"?
What is your response? Mine usually isn't that pretty.
So, MyBigBoy is in the cart basket and we are walking out. I am holding on to his shirt, attempting to keep him sitting down so he doesnt fall out. He is hitting the cart, crying, screaming.
I am getting sooo many looks.
Plus, can I just remind you that this place offers free Santa photos the weekend before Christmas. And there is a restaurant in there AND its a huge 2 story store! This place is massive and is packed! My son's ear piercing screams is all anyone can hear.
We finally get outside and then MyLittleGuy decides to join in on the tears. It was small and off and on but he is very empathetic so he saw big brother crying and figured he needed to too.
Outside they have a stand for kettle corn with a bench behind it. I take MyBigBoy out of the cart and let him "calm himself down" on the bench. Of course he falls to the ground still kicking and screaming.
The whole time I am talking to him about how he is angry and I know he is upset because he wanted to take off his pull up. I explain that it is okay to be angry (because it is) but it is not okay to kick and hit. We are right by the exit so everytime someone walks by they hear my son yelling (and me letting him) and they give me the judgemental look.
I mean before I had a very strong-willed toddler I probably would have done the same thinking, "why can't she control her kid?" Staring and judging and telling myself how that will never be me. My child won't throw fits in public place.
But here I was.
And I realized something in middle of this meltdown.
I really don't care what they think. They can stare at me, judge my parenting, talk about me while they walk away. I am not doing this for them. I am doing this for my son. Because I know how he operates (well... I am learning). Because I don't want him to feel like he has to stuff his very big feelings because I cannot handle them. Because I want him to learn how to control his feelings on his own eventually. Because allowing him to "feel the feels" helps him get in touch with his emotions. Because I want him to know that he is safe with me and his feelings are not too much for me.
And mostly because I know that he will get to the other side of this meltdown and the longer I try to control how he responds to his emotions the worse (and bigger) it gets.
So, judge on, Judgey McJudgerson.
MyBigBoy did stop crying. He ran into my arms "hold, Mom!". I held him and walked to the car explaining again about being mad and how to handle it.
I buckled him in the car seat and he asked me "wipe tears, mom."
I wiped his tears, started the car, and we said "bye" to Santa's house. Then MyBigBoy did the sweetest thing ever!
He said, "thank you mom."
Maybe he was saying thank you for wiping his tears or taking him to see Santa. Or maybe he was thanking me for allowing him to sort through his emotions in a safe place. Whatever the reason I knew that although it was embarrassing, frustrating, and just hard....... it wasnt the end of the world and we got through it.
So, to the moms of the screaming toddlers in public places. You're doing a good work! Keep it up. Its a hard and sometimes lonely road but remember you are a great mom and this too shall pass.
To the bystanders witnessing the melt down - try not to judge. Try to remember that we are all navigating through parenting differently and what works for you and your children might not work for me and mine.
tantrums, big emotions, and love. - Monica