When I was pregnant with both girls, I did a lot of reading. I learned all about the right foods, choking hazards, balancing activities, when to go to the ER, etc. But no parenting book ever answers the question, “What do you do when your toddler wants to drive the UPS truck?” I found myself wondering this as I watched Little A lying on the driveway, hands balled into fists and face bright red from screaming, throwing a force-ten tantrum because she couldn’t drive the UPS truck. The UPS driver stood over her, perplexed. He kept apologizing, though it really wasn’t necessary, and I kept apologizing, until eventually he got in his truck and drove away, leaving me with my shrieking toddler on the driveway. The neighbors kept looking at me when they went to get the mail. I just picked her up and hauled her inside. To this day, every time she sees a UPS truck, she points to it and says, “Mean man don’t let A drive.”
Little A has a cold. We know when Little A is sick because she doesn’t sleep well, doesn’t want to eat as much, and throws ridiculous, pointless tantrums. This past week, she had tantrums about the following:
* I put blueberries on her cereal, and she wanted jelly beans.
* I wouldn’t let her wear a sundress when it was sleeting.
* She wanted crackers and juice, so I gave her some.
* The ice melted in her water. New ice would not do; she wanted the old ice back.
* She left a doll out on the porch, and I wouldn’t go out in the pouring rain to get it.
* Her sister rode the bus home from school, instead of driving it.
* She wanted the pockets removed from her pants. New pants were not a choice; she wanted those pants without pockets.
* We couldn’t drive a red corvette home she saw in the parking lot. She threw this fit as I was carrying her screaming from Target, angry because I wouldn’t let her leap from the cart into a display of nail polish. (She’s normally great in public, but not yesterday.)
(My all time favorite was a few months back, when she threw a fit because I wouldn’t stop doing dishes to fill her bathtub with goldfish crackers)
I know I just have to wait it out until she’s better, but I do have to buy groceries, and I feel like I’m playing tantrum roulette when we leave the house. I have to say thank you, though, to the people in Target. I had to go get medicine for her when she threw the fit. I tossed the medicine in the cart and went to the cashier as fast as possible, desperate to get out of there, abandoning the rest of my shopping. I know how horrible those screams are, and it’s terribly embarrassing. Thankfully, the lady in front of me looked back, smiled, and said, “It’s always when they have an audience, isn’t it? Don’t worry, sweetie, we’ve been there. It’ll be okay.”
I swear I felt my blood pressure drop. It felt so good to have someone say something kind in the face of that tantrum. The cashier was quick and sympathetic. It’s amazing how much better I felt after that simple interaction. We tried Target again for a few groceries, and A was her usual smiling self. The same cashier said, “Oh, you’re happy today!”
A replied, “Feel better now. Happy girl.” Hopefully, that’s how they’ll remember her. However, she’s still mad about the UPS truck.