The other day I was shopping for a gift at Whole Earth, a local shop here in Austin that sells, among other things, really cool toys. Peripherally I was aware of a kid, 2 or 3 maybe, sprawled on the floor in the middle of the toy section, happily playing.
Peripherally I was also aware of his mom. She looked like me maybe. Or not. I was using my peripherals.
The mom said it’s time to go. The kid grunted. It wasn’t a happy grunt. Of course it wasn’t, he was loving those toys. But it also wasn’t a compliant grunt. There was no resignation involved.
She repeated herself, and you guessed it, he didn’t budge.
So, this is the age-old parental question, right? Right up there with how/when to do the sex talk. What do you do when your kid won’t go voluntarily?
This mom did what I, after years of doing things that were less effective and more painful, would do now; she picked the kid up, slung him over her shoulder (or maybe her hip—again, peripherals), and carried him screaming out the door.
Oh, mom of the screaming three year old, I can feel your pain.
Those days of screaming exits are gone for me, not because I figured out any foolproof method of eliminating them, but simply because my kids are older now. But I haven’t forgotten.
Here is what I remember: my heart pounding so loud I could hear it, my brain about to burst from the screams, insta-sweat in my armpits, all circuits completely overwhelmed.
And I remember thinking that everyone in the store must think I’m a horrible parent.
I don’t know, maybe the people who aren’t used to kids do think that when your kid starts screaming and you sling him over your shoulder.
But here is what I actually thought that day in Whole Earth, and what I would have said if she had asked: Good job, mom. Good job for being a parent. And man, isn’t being a parent tough sometimes?
As for your kid screaming? Screaming happens.
And one more thing: if you keep following through on what you say like you just did, eventually the screaming will stop. Maybe not next week, but eventually. When you say it’s time to go, you might still get a grunt, but the grunt will be a resigned one.
© Amy Daniewicz