Before I begin this fun little account of what I refer to as Meltdown Day, let me please note that our daughter Lily, age almost two, is normally a wonderful, happy, smart, well rested child who is usually pretty adaptable to most situations into which she’s thrown. We’re not worried about how she’ll handle the trip, not yet anyway. We’ve always been believers in “pulling the plug” or removing ourselves from a situation before it gets to Meltdown level, and Lily has always responded well. I suppose that’s why having had one true, noteworthy Meltdown Day in all this time is a testament to the three of us (twist arm around to back and pat self now) and I should be very happy about that. I truly am. On this day, however, she did not, in any way, make me happy.
It was her first true and complete meltdown in a public place. Marcus had an appointment at the Sears optical department (the old man needs reading glasses, ha!). While we’re waiting to be served, Lily begins to entertain herself by taking frames off shelves and trying them on. Usually, to present her bespectacled face to her audience elicits a stream of fanfare “Oh cool! Sunglasses!” and the like. Lily, in two-year-old logic, felt that if one pair was good, several must be even better! So as we try to stop her from grabbing handfuls of RayBans from the racks and bending them like wicky sticks in an attempt to put said unpaid for glasses on, the very pregnant salesgirl gives us a halfhearted smile. We, in turn, offer a “just you wait” apology, until she informs us that she is expecting her third. Now, some people handle busloads of kids with the greatest of ease, breezily transitioning from diaper to soccer to homework with relatively no stress. One generally well-behaved but precocious two year old seemed to be more than we could handle at that point. It was kind of like a man’s masculinity being stripped away by the type of girlfriend who spit-cleans food off his face in public.
Henceforth, Lily having been ejected from the Sears optical department, she and I started a cat and mouse game that wound it’s way between the racks of clothing and jewelry, up and down the escalator, through the television section (where a three second viewing of an ad for a new Disney movie delayed her ever so slightly) and on to the shoe department, where the movement abruptly ceased at the sight of a pair of rhinestone-encrusted, flashing-light adorned, rainbow painted size 10 (Lily is a size 6) Converse sneakers sent the running child, like someone had clotheslined her, to a screaming halt.
Lily loves shoes. She’s not too much of a girly girl, but shoes are a weakness that seems to already have reared it’s bedazzled head. Immediately, Lily grabs the display shoe and sits down to put it on. The fact that it is four sizes too big doesn’t seem to register as a legitimate reason (among many, many others) as why she can’t have the shoes. The combination of my putting the shoe back on the shelf and simultaneously trying to lead her out of the store by the hand caused some kind of shift in her almost 2 year old body. Parents know the one, where kids go limp and heavy, their body a bag of wet cement hanging by an arm that had become the consistency of chewed bubble gum. The gum, vaguely resembling a purple-jacketed arm complete with hanging striped mitten, seemed to get longer as it lowered the bag of cement to the floor, where the bag refused to get up. Unlike real, silent cement, this display is accompanied by tears and whining for the absent parent (Daddy would surely understand this situation better). As it turned out, unfortunately for Lily, who seemed to feel that at some point this whining, crying, and lying on the floor would eventually yield a different, positive result; ice cream, a homemade banana muffin, an episode of Sid the Science Kid, some Wiggles songs. No? Shocker.
By bedtime today Lily was 0 for 4 on the things she wanted, based hopefully on the learned lesson that said things will not be acquired via temper tantrums. So with any luck, life lesson number one is at least partially on its way to having an effect. In the meantime, Marcus and I will have to suffer back the karma we, as childless people in crowded public places cast disapproving glances at those parents, who, my God, should be doing something about that kid.