The worst part about Ada acting up and getting fussy in the city is the number of people around to witness it. The population here is so much more dense that chances are, you aren't going to have a fussy spell go unnoticed. It's hard enough being embarrassed by your child as they scream in the middle of a restaurant or on the sidewalk, but it's even worse when you have, what feels like, a million people watching you.
After the tantrum Ada just threw at our neighborhood Noodles and Company, I feel like I need to go back in and apologize to all of their patrons for ruining their lunch atmosphere. She used to be so good about sitting quietly and eating her lunch. She would use the fork and drop her mac and cheese onto her lap occasionally but it was okay and manageable. In the beginning, she would feed herself almost the whole meal and have me load up the fork for the last few bites. Each time we've gone since, the time she feeds herself has gotten shorter and the time I have to load her fork for her, longer. Today that translated into her taking four bites herself and then passing the fork to me. Being the mom who wants to foster independence in her child, and who wants to eat her own food at some point within the next hour, this didn't bode well with me. When Ada passed me her fork, I passed it back to her and encouraged her to eat her food. She started to cry, loudly. I took her food away and she cried even more. Then I offered it to her to try again, and she still cried. We repeated this process again with no luck. At that point, in a public place, I just give up. It was time to pack it up to go and deal with her at home. In comes the calm breathing techniques I practice at yoga. Very handy for staying calm as I packed up our lunch.
On the way out, with her screams echoing throughout the restaurant, I got a few sympathy looks, but I think most people tend to side with Ada and give you the stink eye as in, "What did you do to that adorable child to make her so sad? You must be a mean mommy." I find myself wanting to explain that it isn't my fault, or at least I hope it isn't something I'm doing wrong, but there is never time for that and it is really none of their business. Her screams were so embarrassing that I no longer have any desire to take her back to Noodles until she is old enough to eat the whole plate of food on her own, with her fork. So for now, I have to live in a sheltered box and can't take my daughter out in public for fear that she just can't behave. That's the phase we've entered. It's awesome.
Luckily, I have hope. My friend Jen just happened to give me an extra copy of The Happiest Toddler on the Block. Can anyone guess what I'll be reading this weekend?
My goals for the next few weeks are to figure out solutions to many of Ada's most recent fussy triggers including:
Diaper Changes -
She won't sit down for them anymore and fights them like crazy. Diaper rash could be causing an association with painful diaper changes? Or maybe she's allergic to the wipes they use at daycare and they sting?
Getting Dressed -
She hates taking her shirts off and putting a new one back on. Maybe because her noggin gets caught in the neck of the shirt and she hates being stuck? We've tried taking them off more slowly and doing one arm at a time. Now I'm going to try putting her in polo style shirts that have a few neck buttons to make that process easier.
Hand Washing -
This is a new challenge. Maybe the water was too hot at some point and now she fears being burned? I can't get her to put her hands under the faucet on her own.
Coming into the House -
When we get to the front porch, the crying starts and continues all the way up the steps, through both vestibule doors and into the house. She is either exhausted and cranky from all of the fun we had while we were out or doesn't want the fun to end. I just want the whining to end.
I think that's enough to start with. We'll just have to see how it goes, maybe set up a meeting with her day care providers to see if they have ideas or notice similar issues, and take it one day at a time. In the meantime, I'm just going to keep eating cookies and brownies to cope since that's what the little boy in my belly is telling me to do, and I tend to agree with him a lot these days.
Moral of the story: Your child can't always be an angel, but you can keep trying and hopefully prevent them from becoming too much of a devil.