Toddlers are funny creatures. Despite being one ourselves long, long ago, the memory is too far gone to remember what it’s like- especially what causes the sudden, inexplicable shift in a day once going well to one that is a shit storm of epic proportions. What makes the difference between my toddler playing happily one moment to wanting to GTFO the next.
It’s like you’re peacefully grocery shopping in your pajamas, makeup-less one moment, then you begin to see what feels like every asshole you’ve possibly ever known. You want to knock over a tampon display as a distraction as you run out the back door and peel out the parking lot. But instead, you fluff your hair in front of your face hoping that’s enough of a disguise and halfway smirk should you ever make eye contact. And, god forbid, possibly and painfully muster up some smalltalk.
Not for toddlers. Once they get that inkling in their little toddler bones that they gotsta go, they gotsta go right then and there. It’s like they’re peacefully grocery shopping and the store is on fire and everything is on fire and they need to leave like their life depends on it.
Except yesterday morning, it was a crowded barbershop. My toddler was happily playing in the kids area one moment and then throwing a tantrum so intense that the stylist didn’t even get to touch a hair on his head. An absolute day ruiner before 11 o’clock.
I negotiated. I begged. I sat in the barber chair, him on my lap with my youngest still strapped to my back. Hopeless, I forked over the cost of the intended haircut to preserve any chance of being able to return. Then, I carried him surfboard-style out to the car. I angrily texted my husband and fellow mom friend from the parking lot about what just happened.
My impulse was to go home and take a few minutes to calm down in a separate room, knowing the next slip-up from my toddler would bring out all my pent-up frustration from that morning.
I needed to reset and the twenty minute drive home was not enough time to do it. So I made a rash decision. I went to the mall. On a Saturday.
But hear me out so I can explain away any thoughts of this just being an excuse to shop under the guise of “retail therapy” (which I maintain is still totally legit).
We keep it together a little more with other people around. Kind of a “fake it ‘til you make it” scenario. I present myself as a good parent, I’ll eventually get to acting like a good parent- something that might not necessarily happen once I’m home and can angrily begin threatening taking toys away, banishing the television, or sending him to timeout.
And worst case scenario, my anger gets redirected into wishing for a new plague as I circle a completely full parking lot for ten minutes.
The end result is the same. I am in a better place for parenting my toddler once we walk in the door at home (and a little cookie from the food court never hurt anyone).