I remember it like it was just a couple of weeks ago.
Because actually, it was.
I took three of the girls to a fall festival at the church around the corner.
It didn’t actually feel too much like fall, however, but whatever. There were pumpkins, a hay ride and smores so it FELT fall…..ISH. Except it was like 80 degrees.
Josie wanted to ride on the pony so that’s what we did first. Allison and Caroline waited nicely and were so patient. Wanna know why?
BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT TODDLERS.
Josie wanted to spend the rest of her time in the bouncy-house-slide-thingy. It was cute and sweet and funny and she was having a great Toddler Time.
UNTIL, I simply SUGGESTED that she put her shoes on to paint a pumpkin and ride on the hayride.
I’m not exactly sure what ticked her off. Maybe it was the thought of hay? Maybe she wasn’t feeling particularly artsy and didn’t want to paint? Who knows because, remember, SHE IS A TODDLER.
Either way? She decked me.
And since hitting isn’t really a very nice thing to do to the person who loves you enough to wipe your poppy hind end, I grabbed her up…snatched up those shoes and said “Nope. You’re done here.”
That’s when it started. The kicking, screaming, hitting, pinching, flailing, scratching and hair pulling.
All while I was holding her in one arm and her shoes in the other.
It was like holding a rabid porcupine. Painful and deadly, yet you shouldn’t put it down. For fear that it will harm the others.
My other two were mortified. And hey, it isn’t like they’ve never seen this before. But this time it seemed different. I told them they could go off on their own. They walked away while I carried my rabid porcupine to the tree line. Away from the crowd, yet I am certain they still heard her screams.
Josie is literally melting in my arms. She’s sliding down. You can see her bare belly. Her arms lifted straight over her head as she tried to wiggle away. Still yelling. Still pulling my hair. Still hitting.
I remain calm.
I see other parents looking at us. I wonder where their perfect little kids are. Moms walk by pushing their strollers and glance over. Never once giving me one of those “I’ve been there looks”. Instead, their faces were judgmental. When I first grabbed her up and she smacked my head for the first time, a dad even chuckled.
I don’t see anything funny here, Justin McJudgesten.
Everyone seemed to know exactly what I SHOULD be doing. I could see it on their faces.
Every parent seemed to think that THEIR kid would never…and has never…melted down like this.
At that moment, everyone was a better parent than me.
Except one mom.
That one mom walked over to me as I made the (what felt like 3 miles) walk over to the tree line with my WWE two year old and she said the words…
YOU ARE DOING A WONDERFUL JOB AND YOU ARE A GREAT MOMMY.
As my kid is pinching, and biting, scream-crying and kicking my legs?
This is EXACTLY what I needed to hear.
And now I’m crying right along with Josephine.
I stand, holding her wild tantrum-throwning body, facing away from the fun of the fall festival. She’s crying loudly. I’m crying quietly.
Crying because lately these tantrums happen all too often.
Crying because I’m frustrated.
Crying because everyone else ACTS like their kids have never and will never.
Crying because that one mom saw me struggling and recognized that I needed a verbal pat on the back.
Crying because toddlers are real poo poo heads.
We probably stood there for only five minutes, but it felt like 30. I refused to turn around until she was quiet. Felt like forever, but she finally did.
We carried on at the fall festival that felt like a summer festival in October and she acted like nothing ever happened. But I will never forget that mom and her reassuring voice that day.
Next time you’re out and you see an epic rabid porcupine meltdown happening right in front of your face? Don’t act like your kid has never or will never be rabid. Don’t think YOU never had a rabid meltdown. And for the love of all things fall DO NOT GIGGLE at the situation.
Instead? Give the mom a kind smile, an ‘it’s okay’ look, a word of encouragement, or even just a thumbs up. Because lord knows the woman needs it.
And you wanna guess what she did next?
She rode on the hayride and painted a damn pumpkin that’s what she did.