Everyone who sees Jamie says she is such a sweet, innocent little girl. Because she’s petite and generally timid when people first meet her, they think she is quiet and well-behaved. Well, she is — most of the time. What they don’t often see or know, is Jamie throws the meanest most ear-piercing tantrums you can imagine (I swear, she gets her temperament from her father! ;)). She lurches backward or forward onto the floor and wails or screams. Loudly. Occasionally, she’ll kick up her feet and when you (I) try to carry her, we often end up in more of a struggle because she throws a counter-weight to all your (my) efforts.
All of this new to me, because I never had to deal with these kinds of tantrums with Sam. At least not in public. It seems though that Jamie doesn’t care when or where she chooses to throw a fit, as such is her personality. It happened earlier today too, while we were waiting outside Sam’s ballet class. Jamie decided 30 minutes into our stay that none of the activities I brought (or thought of) were satisfying enough for her. The whining started and eventually she went all out and rolled on the floor (good heavens the germs!). When I tried to coax her off with other distractions, she just shrieked and screamed and cried even louder. To be very honest, I was just too tired (from a constant lack of sleep and from carrying her all day yesterday, among other things) to try harder, so I let her cry and wail (and yes, roll) to her heart’s content, while I sat quietly and watched. Funny enough, she’d occasionally stop to look and see if I was watching, and when I’d calmly ask her if she was done, she’d say “no”, and then resume her wailing.
Of course I got the stares from practically everyone who could hear her 100-decibel shrieks from across the hall. Some glanced at me and smiled sympathetically, others were trying to make light of it by calling out to her and saying, “poor baby, why…” (I seriously ask: What does that even DO?!), and some couldn’t feign the horrified shocked look they had that a child was allowed to do this, and worse yet — the mother wasn’t doing anything. I could even sense that our yaya was getting embarrassed — for Jamie’s or for my behavior, I don’t know. She tried to pick Jamie up but each time Jamie would see her approach, she’d screech all the more, so the yaya eventually backed away. I could even see my husband’s reaction in my head — he would’ve been quite embarrassed for us all too and I probably would have gotten an earful. Thankfully, he skipped ballet today.
Maybe it was the fatigue, and maybe it’s because I’ve had to deal with this routine a thousand times already, that I just didn’t care. In fact when new people would pass us, they’d glance at Jamie and then they’d look around as if they were looking for the irresponsible parent allowing such a public display to occur, I voluntarily raised my hand and acknowledged, “yes, that is my child.”
There wasn’t much I could do because we had to wait for Sam to finish her class. I couldn’t leave and bring her to the car. I did make several attempts to distract her but they were all in vain. I also didn’t want to reprimand her in front of everyone. Even if tantrums are quite a handful for the parents, I still thought about why they happen. I know Jamie is totally over-tired, the poor thing (my lack of sleep is a result of her lack of sleep too), so she was most probably acting out because of it.
I also believe that sometimes, like in this particular situation, it’s good to let them “cry it out” (Now please take that phrase into context!). You know how sometimes you have all this emotion that you don’t know what to do with, but then after a good cry, you feel much better that it’s all been released? I just felt that was what she needed, instead of getting hushed and the feelings repressed. She wasn’t hurting herself or anyone (apart from their eardrums) anyway. Later today Jamie ate a better lunch and napped better so I do feel I made the right call.
As for the well-meaning folk that throw sympathetic glances and the horrified looks, or try to keep the peace by making her stop; thank you, but no thank you. The advice I would give (unless you are close to the child throwing a tantrum or to their parents), is to try harder and ignore it. If I were in your shoes (and believe me I have been many times), that’s what I would do. I wouldn’t even let the mother apologize for her child’s behavior (unless of course it hurt one of my own – again, context!). It’s just simply a part of parenting a toddler. Kids Jamie’s age express their feelings in the ways they know how, and some of them will throw the most embarrassing tantrums ever. I promise if I am there, I will give you the benefit of the doubt, just as I would like done for me.
Yes, she is my child. And don’t worry; contrary to how things may seem, I know what I’m doing.