It's Hot and My Kid Is Screaming, So Stop Staring!

Jacqueline Burt Cote

little girl tantrumOver the weekend, I made a huge discovery. Are you ready for this? I found the mecca of all toddler meltdowns, the place where kids go to have the most epic, howling tantrums ever: A crowded amusement park on a hot summer day.

Whoa! Sweaty, shrieking, sticky toddlers as far as the eye can see, overstimulated beyond their wildest dreams. Brought me right back to the days when my own kids were little enough to express their displeasure in public by flinging themselves on the ground and screaming like banshees. Good times!

Summertime is filled with scenarios like these, with outings that are supposed to be FUN! for the whole family (zoos and carnivals and aquariums) and end up being sensory overload extravaganzas for the kids and hellish nightmares for the parents.

Of course you're still going to take your tot to all these places, because it's summer, after all. But the worst part, and the thing I really don't get, is this: WHY do complete strangers feel the need to openly stare at toddlers mid-breakdown? Or worse, why, why, WHY do people feel like they have the right to comment on said breakdown?

I will never forget the terrible tantrum my daughter had one sweltering August day when she was about 2. We were heading home from the park, and though she was exhausted, she refused to get in the stroller. So, I was pushing the empty stroller and she was trailing behind at a snail's pace, drinking from a bottle of something (I believe it was VitaminWater, good and sugary, DON'T JUDGE ME!).

Anyway, my daughter dropped the bottle on the sidewalk and it rolled into the smelly, stagnant water-filled gutter. Cue screaming. "I WANT MY DRINK!" "It's dirty, sweetie, we'll get you a drink at home." "NO I WANT THAT ONE!" "No, honey that's yucky. Why don't you get in the stroller and we'll go home and get some juice?" "NOOOOO I DON'T WANT JUICE AT HOME!!!"

She plopped down on the sidewalk. When I tried to pick her up and put her in the stroller, she started kicking with the force of a rabid donkey.

That's when two women -- older, grandmotherly types, who SHOULD have been more sympathetic -- walked by ... and one of them pointedly shook her head and covered her ears.

Bad move, granny, bad move.

I flew into a tantrum of my own. "What's the matter, you never saw a kid screaming before, you old bag? You got a problem, speak up! Yeah, that's what I thought!" I yelled as the two women scurried away.

Not one of my finest parenting moments, but you know what? My daughter was so entertained by my meltdown, she forgot all about her own.

What do you do when people stare at your screaming kid?

Image via Jaine/Flickr

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