Washington, D.C. has been suffering through heat wave after heat wave this August. Actually, if I remember right, July wasn’t so swell either. Heat seems to have a bad effect on toddlers. A few minutes in excessive heat and they wilt, get increasingly cranky, and don’t keep their misery to themselves.
Miss L isn’t much for tantrums. She prefers good, old-fashioned guilt. Her favorite thing to do is what I call “Sad Miss L,” where she tucks her arms close to her chest, heaves huuuuuge sighs, and refuses to talk or look at anyone.
It’s hard not to laugh, but I don’t want her to think I take her feelings lightly. Doesn’t mean I give her the cookie, of course, but I do acknowledge her disappointment.
I’ve been pretty smug about this. When other children are kicking and screaming on the floor, I just smile patronizingly at their parents, secure in my knowledge that Miss L is a remarkable toddler and far above such antics.
I should have known it was only a matter of time, but the heat wave certainly hastened its coming.
Last week when I picked Miss L up from daycare, she was outside with her friends, playing on the playground. When I got there, she was happily sliding with her friends. My heart sank a bit when I saw how sweaty and red she was–I knew she was probably a bit overheated, and this always means cranky. Not with her friends, of course–the crankiness is reserved for Mommy alone.
Miss L was happy to see me. Until I told her it was time to go home. And then it happened: Her first tantrum. She promptly burst into tears and went completely boneless. She slipped from my arms like Jell-O and landed in a heap at my feat, sobbing as though I had banned her from playgrounds forever. She wasn’t hurt; it was a slow slide. No, she was mad. And I was embarrassed. How many children cry when their parents come to pick them up? Sure, they cry at drop-off, but most children are thrilled to see Mommy and Daddy.
I was sure her teacher was thinking things: That I was the meanest mom ever, that Miss L hated me, that I couldn’t handle my own kid. And I was pretty sure they were right.
I hefted Miss L off the ground, swung her under my arm, and got out of there as fast as I could march while encumbered with a 30-pound mass of rage. She sobbed all the way to the car.
A woman smiled patronizingly at me as she helped her well-behaved, 18-month-old girl with perfect curls into the elevator.
“Miss K never throws tantrums,” she told me. “I’m just lucky, I guess.” I resisted the urge to smack her.
Just you wait, dear lady. Just you wait.