We will all survive this transient, painful existence until we don't and then we're dead.

January 7, 2013

A few weeks ago Jon, Jude and I were at Target perusing the toy aisles when suddenly things went from Regular Shopping Trip to Defcon 1: Toddler Madness and the screaming started. I can usually defuse his anger before it escalates to that level but that day for whatever reason he just wasn't having it. None of my preferred distraction techniques had any effect, and even the serious-whisper-talking didn't stop him from screaming at the top of his lungs, rearing back his arm, and clocking me cold in the face with a snowy avalanche of hatred. Jude's usually an easy-going type of dude so this was probably the worst public tantrum we've ever had, shew lordy may they continue to be few and far between.

Seeing that we weren't getting too far with reason and logic Jon wasted no time picking him up and carrying him, kicking and screaming, directly out of the store, performing the ultimate parent walk-of-shame as Jude yelled things like, "Daaaaaadddd! I hate you!" and, "Don't touch me!" while onlookers shook their heads and clucked their ugly flapping chicken mouths. Jon got out to the car and Jude promptly... fell asleep.

Behavioral mystery busted, crack work you meddling kids!

I stayed behind to finish grabbing a few things and run through the checkout line, so I had the privilege of watching the trail of angry looks and eyerolls that followed Jon and his yowling suitcase through the store first-hand. A few thoughts:

1. We quickly removed our child from the store to keep him from bothering the general public, not as some kind of twisted plot to bother them more. I'm not sure what else judging chicken mouth people are expecting when it's obvious that parent and monster are already making a hasty retreat directly towards the exit so shopping can resume in peace. Shut it down. Z snaps.

2. Children aren't programmable robots or domesticated animals, and even our most beloved domesticated animals sometimes look us right in the eye and barf half-digested trash all over the rug. Kids do the thing you least expect, for no reason or because the wind blew their hair wrong or because their shoes are too green. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not excusing bad behavior, but kids also aren't tiny adults. They aren't always going to act like tiny adults. Hell there are adults who go out in public and don't act like adults. Why don't you cry about it, whiners? Wahhh.

3. This is a teaching moment. If you would like this to not happen (again, and again, and again) in the future please understand that I am trying to teach the rabid pack of wolves inside my child's brain that this is not acceptable behavior. Your grouchy world will be a better place later because this happened. Corrective measures are actively being taken, please stand by.

4. You giving us the double-trouble stare down serves no purpose other than making you look like a little puffy cherry hemorrhoid poking out of a dog's butt. FYI.

I can't say I've never been among the clucking chicken-mouth glaring crowd, because I have been that person. Boy have I ever been that person. I wholeheartedly agree that crying children are annoying. As a result I do everything in my power as a parent to prevent the torture of all nearby eardrums, but sometimes shit happens.

As long as parents are making a good-faith effort to correct the situation and not murmuring, "Yes, sweetie, whatever you want, I'll buy you a puppy, here's your go-go-juice," while their child screams endlessly and destroys stuff, eh, you know? I just shrug my shoulders and go to a different aisle. Especially now that I've walked in those shoes I give everyone the benefit of the doubt first, judgement last.

On a completely different day Jude and I were placidly strolling through the grocery store aisles on a mission to buy everything in sight and then bake it into treat form. We had just turned down a new aisle, deep in conversation, when he started protesting.

"I don't want to go down here! I don't like this one!"

"You don't?! Well I think I see something down here you might like."

He paused, because tricking people that are 3 is easy. "...What do I like?"

"Look, mac and cheese!" I pointed, as we walked.

"Oh, mac and cheese!" Jude clapped happily.

We continued to go back and forth at normal-volume when out of nowhere an older lady stopped our cart and touched my arm.

"My son, you know, he's 35 now, he always tells me that I threatened to call Santa when he was being bad. Just an idea to help you with... that." She crooked her withered, skeletal finger in Jude's face, sniffed, and pushed her glasses up her nose, "I never had any problems like... that."
"- Ha ha ha. Thanks." Jon cut her off over my shoulder, walking up behind me midway through her little speech. He reached forward and grabbed my jacket, digging his fingers into the fabric and forcing me into motion.

Personal note: It is inadvisable to commit murder in a place where there are security cameras.

Hello, my name is Jamie. I do not typically punish my child for talking. I do not consider having a conversation, in public, in which both parties were happily participating, to be "bad." I do not threaten my kid with the wrath of Santa when he's "bad." I don't make threats that I'm not willing to carry through and at the wild, chattery age of 3.4 I am not going to be the asshole that takes all my kid's presents away, let alone because he was talking in the grocery store one time. What does he look like, a fucking puppy? Bad dog! No! Bad old people! No! Your son is 35? Cool story bro. Obviously no one ever stopped your mother in the grocery store and warned her that Santa won't bring you presents if you talk to strangers and they kill you and you die.

I'm sure she thought that she was helping in offering me this amaaaaazing parenting advice that had surely never occurred to me before, so bless her heart or whatever it is you say to cover the impolite feelings you have when you want to stab someone in the neck. Frankly I'm not all that wild about talking to people I don't know in the first place and hey! this is totally why. Not interested in your parenting tips or your life story and why -the hell- are you putting your filthy slime paws on my flesh? Is this what we do now? Back out of the area slowly and reassess your desire to live.

Somewhere in the middle of the universe is a place where we're all reasonable human beings. GO TO THAT PLACE. Accept. Conform. Obey.
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