God help us, we have entered the Terrible Twos.
Okay. I really don't feel I can call it that, yet. There have been tantrums, yes, but so far, two is my favorite age. He's becoming independent. He's self-aware. He learns new things every.single.day. He is super affectionate. And loves to play, both alone and with me (or others). He is curious, and adventurous, and filled with the magic of the world. He can communicate his wants and needs, and is learning to be patient when he has to wait.
But, Lord help us if we dare to use the 'n' word: "No."
All hell breaks loose. Arms and legs fly. His body becomes a mass of wildly swinging jello. The screams are ear-piercing, shrill, and loooooong.* Tears rush down a face contorted with righteous toddler rage that we, the Evil Overlords, dared to tell him 'no'.
Most times, I just leave him to scream and walk away. Other times, like today, he chooses to throw these massive fits in the middle of a thrift store whilst helping an unfortunate young performer find costume pieces.**
You are wandering through the aisles of your local thrift store, looking to score some bargains on some gently-used clothes. Rushing down the aisle toward you is a two-year-old pushing a toy truck he found at the other end of the store, moving faster than those little legs should allow. A half second later, you see his mother, looking a tad frazzled, round the corner and spot him, fast-walking after him, while still trying desperately not to knock over clothing racks or elderly women who block the aisle, oblivious to the chaos that has entered their lives. A few seconds behind her, a young man holding two pieces of clothing that he obviously did not pick out for himself, saunters after, trying to keep up. Or possibly to distance himself.
The young man catches up to the mother and the boy in the shoe aisle. He finds them by the sounds of torturous screams. He turns the corner to find the mother seated on the floor between two racks of shoes, the toy truck behind her, out of reach of little arms. She is trying to keep his little toddler head from bashing into the hard tile-over-concrete floor, but the boy seems determined to break away at any cost. Any time there is a break in the screaming, the young man can hear the mother trying to reason with the drooling, snot-faced thing that was so cute five minutes ago. Finally, in exasperation, she hauls the toddler up, and carries him out of the aisle like a football - a kicking, screaming, gooey football.
And then, the mother calmly walks the young man over to the jewelry counter and points out a few items that will complement his new costume. Quietly, barely audible over the screams of "Truck! Truck!", she asks, "Does that give you a basic idea of what you need?" The young man nods, and thanks the mother. She says, "You're welcome," apologizes for the toddlers behavior, wishes the young man a good day, and walks out of the store, the flailing snot-monster still raging, locked in a fireman hold over her shoulder.
No panic. No fears of judgement. No breakdowns. I was the mom who had her shit together, for once, and who walked out of that store in charge, and wrestled that two-year-old into the car without feeling like I needed a stiff drink. For that moment, I felt like SuperMom.
And then I got home, collapsed in my recliner, and let Elmo baby-sit for the remainder of the evening.
*Boy, that kid has a set of lungs.
** I doubt he'll ever have children after today.