Monday, March 02, 2009

Help! I need somebody, help!

Every parent has been in the situation when their child / children have completely and utterly lost it. Tantrum of epic proportions. Nothing can be done to soothe. You just have to roll with the punches. Oh, yours hasn't done this? Well let me go get your crown! I kid. Because I know it's not possible. Every kid has done this. Maybe it was as an infant - waiting impatiently for a meal or a diaper change. Or as a toddler, upset because the fun day at the park has been rudely interrupted by nap time. Or a sensitive four year old who thinks the chopping knives at the Hibachi restaurant are far too loud as he cowers in the corner crying. It happens. And as parents we cope the best we can. Sometimes anger gets the better of us. We cry and throw a mini-tantrum. Or sanity rules and we remember to offer choices, soft words of encouragement, and the healing sounds of white noise. I don't know. We just muddle through it, because that is all we can do.

But you know what really irks me? When the tantrum is going big and strong and all in the world of the child is not right?? When someone, more specifically a stranger or near-stranger, tries to "help." I know they mean well. I get it. They are trying to help sooth the child because no one likes to hear a child crying. But honestly, if I, as the kid's Mom, can't bring him back down, I promise you that you are not going to be able to do so. Don't even try. Don't offer gum or candy (my 2 year old doesn't chew gum - ok?!). Don't try and tickle him to bring on a laugh - I promise you he will just cry harder. Don't try to tickle him a 2nd or 3rd time either, it's not working. Don't play peekaboo - again, crying harder. DON'T offer to hold my child. Seriously, he's not going to want to be held by a practical stranger. Don't try and show him your fancy knives or your trick ketchup bottle -- this is directed squarely at the Hibachi chef. And please don't offer to call someone to help me out. Yes, this really happened. A stranger on a Seattle street corner asked me if I needed him to call someone for help, when Jackson, as an infant, was tired and hungry and having a fit, and I was trying to make my way to a private spot to nurse him. Now who did that stranger think he was going to call?? A wet nurse? Salma Hayek? Odd. Very odd. Or did I not look like the child's mother? Was the leaking breastmilk not a big, fat clue on that one?

I suppose I'm sounding a bit sensitive. That's how I am. That's probably why my boys are a tad on the sensitive side. But I'm also sure I'm not alone. Every parent has had the screaming, tantrum throwing child. And every parent has also received plenty of unsolicited advice and offers of help. So maybe I can use this as a way to get the word out that "help" for a tantrum-having, over the edge youth is to turn your head and pretend it isn't happening. Or at the very least, offer a sympathetic "I've totally been there, it does get better" smile and then turn away.


Terri said...

Can I give you the "this is sooooo why I don't have kids" look and then turn away? :-P Kids and pets. Sometimes you can't really know exactly what's wrong with them.

Katie said...

In the middle of the grocery store aisle, spread-eagle and flailing extremities!? That's what I get, and thank gosh I live in a very family-oriented town where most families have more than 2 kids, and from other mom's I'd get the sympathetic look, not a hateful one! E's tantrums are just rare now, for which I'm glad, but O's are just coming on and are 10 times worse than E's ever have been, so yeehaw, here I go again!

jimbroome said...

Amy, sometimes a nice glass of wine does the trick....For the child(Not you!)

Tales from the Crib said...

Terri - too true, kids and pets, the forever unpredictable.

Katie - we were entering that territory with Holden now. HE'S actually the one that motivated my post, because he was sobbing from exhaustion when I dropped J off at school today.

Dad - Only the best vintages for my kids! ;-)

CharleyJax said...

I'm with you, Amy... although, if one of those strangers would offer to come home and deal with the tantrum for me there so that I don't have to... I may take them up on it some days.
Glad to hear H is in line with his trips on the moods lately!