Sunday, June 6, 2010

Pop Goes the Weasel

Despite the fact that Sophia averages three tantrums per day, I maintain the belief that most tantrums are due to exhaustion. Like today, during the opening of the ABC Games at the Please Touch Museum, in front of every other mommy blogger in the Philadelphia region, Sophia threw a hairy one. This instance was particularly embarrassing as I feel like I’ve got a rep to live up to.

We head over to the cafeteria after two and a half solid hours of play (working out at the new health and wellness exhibit, shopping in the grocery store, caring for sick babies in the hospital …) Sophia is visibly tired…shoulders rounded, eyes glassy…but hungry. It’s one hour to nap time. I should be leaving, but we still have carousel tickets. We venture into the cafĂ© in search of something non-processed to eat. I successfully steer her away from the chemicals posing as food, and we select a lunch of tuna salad and a hard-boiled egg. Sophia sits down in a big-girl chair and compliantly eats the tuna fish, silently staring at the murals on the walls.

Suddenly, she asks to sit in a high chair. This is where I should have said no. But, not wanting a fight, I lug the high chair over and bend to lift her into it. “NO NO NO, I do it myself!” she chastises me. Then she explains her complicated scheme of how she intends to do it herself. “I’m going to pull this chair over, “she begins, gesturing towards the big person chair, “climb onto it. Stand up, and then get into that chair,” she indicates the high chair. “Sophie. That’s dangerous. I will either lift you into the chair or you can sit in the big girl chair.” “NO!” she yells back, beginning to scale the high chair. Again, I probably should have intervened, but I allow her to climb, and, as predicted, she bangs her knee. She begins to wail.

I can feel the eyes of the other mothers (Judging my parenting skills? Relieved it wasn’t them? Curious to see how it plays out?) studying me as Sophia works it. “Sophia. That is why you can’t climb into the chair yourself.” She wails louder. “If you can’t calm down, we’re going to have to leave.” Sophie continues to sob, shrieking “POP GOES THE WEASEL!” as she does when she’s very upset. (Likely an odd association to the anticipatory dread she feels as she cranks the handle of her Jack in the Box.) “I can put you in the high chair or you can sit in the big girl chair.” “No no NO!” “Then we are going to have to leave.” Not wanting to waste any of the lunch, I shovel the tuna fish into my mouth with one hand, holding my struggling toddler with the other. “It’s such a shame,” I go on, “that a day this nice day had to end so badly.” I’m feeling sorry for myself, that I am not going to get that ride on the carousel. “No it’s NOT A SHAME!” Sophie counters, just for the sake of being contrary. Still holding Sophie, I clean the table, gather up our things, and carry her, squirming and screaming out into the hallway.

“Look,” I say in a last-dash attempt to salvage the carousel ride. “I’m going to take you to the bathroom and change your diaper. If you calm down, we can go on the carousel. But if not, I’m taking you home.” I was planning on riding the cat. The one with the fish in its mouth. I stare at her and wait.

“Boop!” says Sophie. And then she laughs like a madwoman.

Clearly, the kid is overtired.

“Boop!” I say, and she laughs again. Tension is diffused. We manage through the diaper change. Then, at last, we have a really nice ride on the carousel…side by side, each on our own fish-eating cat.

Afterwards, I carry her out of the Please Touch Museum in my arms, like a little baby.

“Toddler down?” outside, a fellow mommy blogger asks me, eyes full of empathy. She’s on break from an interview in front of the museum.

“Nap time started half an hour ago,” I explain, “without us.”

“Been there,” she nodded knowingly.

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