By Kayleigh Rahn
I had a good feeling about Monday evening.
William is on second shift this week, so I’d picked up Nora from daycare Monday evening.
She was seemingly in a fantastic mood. We had a couple errands to run then it was off to one of the local restaurants to meet my mom and brother for dinner.
It was a warm October evening with golden light hitting the last of the fields to be harvested. Nora was rattling away with her news from the day, and the radio was turned up just enough to signify that another day at the office was complete. Well, my office hours were complete. In the back of my head, I was constantly running down the list of items I needed to complete for this week’s edition once Nora went down for the night.
What was left? Two cover stories, Emergency Response, my column, Journal Entries… It was a hefty list I kept replaying in my mind.
We picked up by brother Tyler before heading to meet our mom for food.
All was well, until my nearly 2-year-old grew extremely offended when I attempted to set her in the high chair.
I could feel the stares from the other restaurant patrons turning our way as I attempted to tread lightly into our hostage situation.
I never thought I’d be this mom. When putting together our parenting technique, William and I always leaned toward the firm but caring side of the parenting arena. Look the child in the eye, explain the situation clearly, move on. When we aren’t able to move on as quickly as we’d like, our course of action is a timeout. Nora knows the timeout spots in our house and will head that way when told.
She’s normally well behaved with minor hiccups in between, but this night was new territory.
She began to kick her feet up on the table rather than placing them in the respective leg holes as she clung to my neck with all her might. As the melt down began we headed for the door to chat outside about the expectations I had for her as a big girl in the restaurant. We tried again and the tantrum continued to swell.
I had her in my arms facing away from me now as I attempted to whisper in her ear any form of negotiation that came to mind just so we could get through dinner.
“Sit down, and I’ll give you chips, your baby doll; we’ll get ice cream, cookies, anything! Just sit in your seat like a normal human child.”
Nothing worked. She was not having it. So, I quickly collected our things and headed for the door. I was mortified. We headed to the car, with her feet and arms flinging the whole way. I was exhausted by the time we’d reached the car. My mom followed us to say she’d put the order in to go.
I gave her a look of gratitude as I lifted Nora to her car seat.
Then, in the middle of downtown Tuscola on a perfect fall evening, my child screamed at the top of her lungs while I attempted to wrestle her into her car seat.
I can think of only a couple more embarrassing moments in my life. I was honestly afraid Tuscola’s finest was about to pull up. I was terrified someone might see me, recognize me, and wonder what I was doing to my poor child.
She clung to my neck for dear life with an arched back refusing to sit in her seat.
I put her in time out against the car. She calmed down. We tried again with the same result.
At this point I began to think something was wrong. I asked if she was hurt; she said no. I asked her what was wrong; she didn’t have the words.
After calming down, we headed for my office. I thought the walk would tire out her legs and give her a chance to cool down further. We grabbed my laptop and workbag and headed back toward the car. I fell into a false sense of security on the walk back, but with assistance from my mom we wrestled her into her seat and headed home with a screaming girl in the backseat.
I was furious. I was embarrassed. I was concerned, because I still had no idea what had gotten into her.
I kept thinking what the restaurant patrons had thought of my lack of parenting abilities, because I’d failed to corral my child in public. I tried every single course of action William and I have read and have implemented. Nothing worked, and I was defeated.
My mind was racing with the dinnertime and bedtime routine that was in front of us and the mountain of writing I had left to do before press time the following day and the outline I’d yet to finish for a presentation I’m slated to give Friday. My mind was reeling with a screaming toddler in the backseat.
That’s when I realized this meltdown is just a temporary storm and the rest, every bit of it, is just a detail. Sure my day-to-day is filled with so much of “the rest” – routines, writing, community events, but the only things that really matter are loving on that kid and caring for my family. I reminded my self that my child is well loved every single day of her life by, not only me, but her father and extended family and even at her wonderful daycare as well. With that in mind, what others think about my parenting style is honestly none of my business.
Once back at my parents’ house, Nora sat in her high chair and ate hour-old Mexican food, and I had a moment to talk with William about the ordeal. Between the two of us walking back our day, we realized Nora never had her allergy medicine. Our schedules are flipped around when William is on second shift. It was an honest oversight, but that’s when I noticed she was miserable.
She’d started coughing, her nose was running, and her eyes were red.
I was too distracted with being the firm parent in between work to realize my poor girl just wanted snuggles.
I administered the correct dosage of allergy meds before heading to the bathtub for a quick but warm bath. In the matter of minutes she was back to her self, wild and sweet as ever.
The storm was over, and we’ll try again tomorrow.