Few things make me crankier than a visit to Toys R Us. I prefer small, independent stores with imaginative inventory and thoughtful customer service. But my daughter wanted to give her friend a birthday gift that could only be purchased at Toys R Us. So, I sucked up my distaste and off we went.
My daughter found the gift she wanted, picked out a gift bag and card and we were in the check out line. Then, the wailing began—high-pitched, loud, insistent. Everyone in the check out line turned to discover the source. There, standing between his parents, was a little boy in full-on toddler tantrum mode. Mom looked apologetically at us, sheepishly shrugged her shoulders and said, “He just turned two.” Dad, meanwhile, was reasoning with the youngster while putting a plastic ride-on car back on the shelf. “You have a Power Wheels car at home,” Dad said. “You can ride soon.” Toddler wasn’t buying the delayed gratification strategy.
I kept my mouth shut. But I know that “soon” to a toddler is “right now.” Dad might as well have said, “You can ride your own car when we get home…about a year from now.”
I tried reasoning with my first toddler. I didn’t want to be a tyrant, but I also didn’t want my child screaming at me in public. So, I turned to the parenting books. One advised removing screaming children from the scene of the scream. So, I started removing my children, kicking and screaming, from wherever it was they were kicking and screaming. Screaming was allowed on the playground and in the backyard, not in , church, Grandma’s house or a restaurant. The message was clear: you can stay here if you behave appropriately.
I’m glad I kept my mouth shut in Toys R Us. Mom and Dad were new parents; they were learning. And we were in Toys R Us, a place that makes me want to scream.
Another incident has me less sure that I should stay mum when others’ kids go nuclear. During my daughter’s latest gymnastics demonstration, one of the gymnasts had a tantrum. She howled her anger, making it impossible to hear the instructor introduce each of the performers. Her dad tried reasoning with her. It didn’t work. Eventually, he took her out of the gym, but not before she had disrupted a good portion of the performance.
I said nothing, as did the other parents, but I’m not sure I did the right thing. My daughter and her friends were doing moves that require skill and concentration. It really wasn’t fair to any of the other gymnasts and their parents for one child to disrupt the entire performance. I can’t help thinking I should have found a way to tactfully put that in words.