My parents used to tell me stories of how, when I was a toddler, I would throw epic temper tantrums. Specifically, anytime we needed to leave somewhere, I was horrible. My mom said one particular time, my parents were trying to shuffle my older sister and me out of my aunt and uncle’s house when I started screaming at the top of my lungs that I didn’t want to leave with them. People on the street stopped and looked concerned as if my parents were kidnapping me. The embarrassment of that day still haunts them.
Ever since my reign as the Terrible Toddler, my parents have been silently waiting for the karma to take effect. They don’t ever mention it, but I always catch the glance between them when my son, who is almost three, has a meltdown. My dad, in particular, always looks extremely satisfied, watching me handle things. Its the perfect type of karma. My old toddler attitude has come full circle.
Full circle. It is a phrase used often by parents to mean if you were a particularly high-strung child, like me, then your child will do the same thing to you once you become a parent. Your behavior is now coming back to bite you in the butt in the form of your screaming, thrashing child. And oh, did it come full circle for me. The first time my son freaked out when leaving an indoor play place, I thought I was prepared for it. I was not. As I peered around, watching my son steal apple sauce pouches from the snack area and chuck them across the room, I thought you need to call mom and dad and tell them you’re sorry.
Don’t get me wrong, our son is awesome 75 percent of the time. It’s that other 25 percent I’m talking about, when he plays to the crowd, knowing juuuust the right moment to act out. To us, it is the worst moment. A good example is in the middle of the busy entrance hallway at Conner Prairie. That hallway has hosted a couple of tantrums now, and it always happens when they are busy and double strollers with multiple children and tired parents are trying to come through. My son will just stand there in the center of the hallway, defiant, not budging. The only way I can get him moving is to promise him we will use the cool coin machine to turn his penny into different shapes. I’ve given up at least $2 to that machine since we became members.
As my child enters his “threenager phase,” I am daydreaming about the future, when my husband and I are grandparents and our grandchild gives him the same attitude. We may not be so silent about it, though.