There’s a famous story in my family called “The Crack Addict and the Toddler.”
Alright, nobody’s ever called it that, but I think we all should. The story goes that when I was a wee young lass of about 3, my father took me to Toys ‘R’ Us to purchase a birthday present for another child who’s birthday party I had been invited to. In my memory I didn’t really like this little girl – I thought she was mean, in fact I believe she used to bite me. But that doesn’t really have anything to do with the story other than I’m trying to garner sympathy for myself. Anyway, apparently we made it through Toys’R’Us picking up our gender-neutral toy for little Bitey Birthday Girl and safely passing the Barbie doll section without any demands for a Barbie doll (I wasn’t allowed Barbie dolls because of the sexist oppressive message that they sent, which only made me want them more). My father was pleased that we were going to leave Toys’R’Us without his adorable toddler daughter turning into the exorcist child over a Barbie doll or a My Little Pony (I WAS allowed My Little Ponies because they were just rainbow colored horses with no suggestion of gender roles).
And then we got to the checkout counter.
In defense of my 3 year old self, the Toys’R’Us checkout counter is designed to illicit a temper tantrum. Then put inexpensive flashy toys at eye level in order to taunt children into wanting something they don’t even want. What parent would choose a screaming, pleading child over a $4.95 pair of googly-eyed slinky glasses?
My dad, that’s who.
Nobody remembers what toy I wanted, only the fact that I wanted it BAD. My dad says that he saw my lip start to quiver and he knew “we’d better get out of here QUICK.” By the time he had the receipt in hand I was limp and flailing. He dragged me past the quarter vending machines that spit out sticky spiders in plastic bubbles, which only fueled my desire for a new toy. Kicking and screaming, he threw me into the back seat of the car, closed the door and stood there watching me flail. As I rocked the car with my violent temper tantrum, a man, who my father describes as “clearly on something” teetered over to him. “What kind of father are YOU? My kid would never act that way,” said the crack addict.
I mean, do I give good temper tantrum, or what?
I still have some pretty nasty temper tantrums from time to time. I don’t WANNA exercise! I don’t WANNA cook dinner! But I WANNA eat all that cheese! You get the picture. Maybe I need a Weight-Loss-Parent. Someone to monitor my choices. To stop me from making the bad ones no matter how wild of a temper tantrum I throw, and to encourage me and make me feel good about myself when I make a good choice. The problem is, that it’s impossible. Who’s going to volunteer to follow around a 30-something, smart, capable woman and smack her hand when she picks up a cookie? And what 30-something, smart, capable woman would actually want that? I mean, that sounds like a fist fight waiting to happen.
No. I’m supposed to be able to do that myself. I’m supposed to deal with my own temper tantrums. I’m supposed to throw my whiny, out of control self into a car and let myself thrash around until I calm down.