May 14, 2011

Dear Jack, Month 47

Dear Jack,

This month, you threw a temper tantrum to rival all temper tantrums. I'm sure there are kids who have thrown worse fits, but I've never seen them.

We were having a great day up to that point. I had something to return at Menards, and when we walked in, there were 7 people ahead of us in the return line. I immediately started sweating and searched my purse for snacks and things to keep you and Ben entertained. Fortunately, I found a crumpled bag of teddy grahams and you were both really easy going about the wait.

I was so thrilled with how well you behaved at Menards, that I promised a trip to McDonalds. You both ate well and we laughed and had a good time at lunch. I couldn't believe how well you both were behaving and thought I'd even have a chance to make it to another store after lunch.

On our way out of the restaurant, you asked where your Happy Meal toy was. At this point, I should have just handed you Ben's. It was exactly the same. But instead, I said, "Oh, shoot. I think I threw it away. But here's Ben's . . . you can have this one."

I had said too much.

You totally lost it. We were just outside the front door and you started screaming and running laps on the front lawn. It was the oddest behavior I've ever seen from you. I put Ben down and tried to grab you to calm you down, but you took off running toward the parking lot. At this point, I was panicked. I picked up Ben and chased you almost half way around the building before I caught you.

At that point, I realized that Ben was missing a shoe and that it was back inside the restaurant, so I had to carry Ben and your hysterical little body back in with me. On our way back out the second time, you dropped to the ground in the entry way and kicked both of your shoes off. You went limp and I had to drag you out.

I've never seen you behave like that . . . especially over something like a McDonalds toy. I still don't know why that set you off, but I'm glad it's over. I wasn't embarrassed. I was just frustrated and bewildered.

May 2011

I tell you all of this, because I wonder if that day will be burned in your memory like it will be mine. I wonder if you'll remember how you acted, or if you'll just remember how frustrated and angry I was. I wonder if you'll remember trying to talk on the way home and me telling you that there would be no talking until we got home home. I wonder if you'll remember me sending you straight to your room for mandatory nap time, even though you hadn't taken a nap in months.

After you woke up from your nap that day, you curled up with me on the couch and apologized. We sat there cuddling and talking for quite a while. I think you felt bad, but I also think you were worried that I was still angry with you. I apologized for yelling and assured you that there was nothing you could do that would ever make me stop loving you.

When you're old enough to read this . . . if you happen to remember that day . . . I hope you'll remember that hour on the couch. Because even though the tantrum was one of my worst experiences in parenting thus far, that hour on the couch was one of the sweetest.



Tara said...

We had a similar situation here when I decided to use our many, many plastic Easter eggs (from way too many hunts) as leverage....I threatened to throw an egg away for disobedience. The first time I followed through I was SHOCKED by the complete hysterical meltdown and tantrum!! We seldom have those around here. And it made me feel so awful. :( I actually did it once or twice more and then changed my mind about it. I realized that I knew those eggs and their contents were worth less than nothing...but not to Charlie (my son). It was WAY too big of a deal for me to use as was so much worse than taking away his special blanket. I'm guessing Jack feels the same about the Happy Meal toy. Not that it was a punishment to him, but kids have no idea of the value of items like that. It's such a huge deal to them. Thank You, McDonald's. ;)

Melissa Hoffman said...

what a beautiful picture of parenting. I bet he doesn't remember that temper tantrum only the love he felt afterwards :)

Melanie Eccles said...

"there's nothing you can ever do that will make me love you less." I always remember that Nooma video you showed us. So good.