The heat rising up in your face. The tears forming behind your eyelids. The sound; piercing.
When your two-year-old has a tantrum, it can feel like the most embarrassing moment in your life. Especially when dozens of spectators surround you and your tot. You’ll try all the tricks in the book, and sometimes it just doesn’t work. Your toddler has a mind of her own and she will decide when the tantrum is over. We’ve all seen this in action. When the heated moment begins, often without warning; you’ll start with We don’t act like that. Please be a big girl. The pitch gets higher. You try the You better stop this RIGHT NOW or you lose your [Enter: your child’s favorite toy]. She’s not moved. She’s not listening-everyone else is. And you want to hide, but you’re in charge and everyone is waiting for you to just DO SOMETHING! Your husband tries a few of his tricks. Nothing. In desperation, you beg If you stop crying, I’ll give you a piece of [Enter: your child’s favorite tasty treat]. And it feels like it lasts forever. Then you’ve done it; you’ve calmed your child down. Or at least you think you had something to do with it. At last, peace.
Then you’re escorted off the plane.
The story of Dr. Colette Vieau and husband, Dr. Mordecai Stolk’s experience on JetBlue was featured on NBC’s The Today Show this morning. What really made me feel for this family though (you can only feel so bad for a family leaving a Turks and Caicos vacation), was not so much their airline debacle, but the six minutes on live television with Matt Lauer. If you ever have the chance to speak with Mr. Lauer on TV, chances are you’re either hoping to leave the kiddos behind or you’re praying they will behave extraordinarily!
Through the segment, I was holding my breath for the mom. As pediatrician Dr. Vieau spoke about the tantrum, her three-year-old daughter squirmed and wiggled and twisted on her lap. I know this situation well. Your child wants to be anywhere but your lap; but you’re trying to hold an adult conversation at the bank, in the grocery store or even your pediatrician’s office and at the very least, you want to look like you have control over this young child. But her older daugther was grabbing for her dad, reaching for his face, and even at one point worked her way down off her mom’s lap to the set’s couch and was reaching for the coffee table.
Matt Lauer asked if the couple thought the experience to be mortifying which the dad quickly rebutted, “yes!” after giving a dad-voice “hey” to his fidgety daughter. Meanwhile, the culprit of the airline tantrum, their two-year-old sitting pretty on dad’s lap, was behaving very well with just some little toddler talk.
This is just life with little ones. Especially when you have a two-year-old and a three-year-old…trying to control them both is often a tricky task.
When asked what lesson was learned from this experience, Dr. Stolk stated, “Control your kids.” To that I say, “pa ha!” If a pediatrician can’t “control” a child in the midst of a tantrum, who can? Of course, there is always an end to a tantrum but how much of it is the parent controlling it or the child deciding she’s done?
I think the lesson learned is that none of us are immune to toddler tantrums. And we all survive them…no matter how embarrassing they are at the time!