It was a great morning. We all woke up in a great mood and decided to spend the day out and about. In toddler world, there is often only a small window of time that reduces meltdown chances. Good night’s sleep? Check. Full belly? Check. We choose to start the day going to Walmart to spend some of my son’s birthday money. We made a bee-line to the toy section, as much for my husband’s sake as for my son’s. We had a plan to get in and get out (I long for the days that weren’t completely planned out) and moods were still chipper despite the jammed parking lot and swarms of people on this Saturday morning. And then the trigger. Balloons everywhere. Back to School sale, they bellowed. To Walmart, a great promotional gimmick. To me, the start of PTM: Public Toddler Meltdown.
The current state of my son’s obsession with balloons borders on neurotic. “Bayoon? Bayoon?” “No balloons, those balloons live here.” “Bayoon, peas?” This conversation continues until he heard one too many “nos”. I could see it in his face. I knew it was brewing. I told my husband we need to leave; this was not going to be pretty. I bribe him with a snack, his favorite one. It works. I tell my husband we need to go check out, while he’s still munching on his snack, but there’s no way around the balloons! No matter which way we go, balloons! We distract with conversation about his new Donald Duck in the cart. We’re halfway to the checkout lines and he remembers. He points, “bayoon”! We’re Mario Karting through the aisles and past the balloons and it happens. PTM is now in full effect.
Here come the tears, and snot, and screams – the kind of screams that cannot only be heard throughout the acres of store but can rattle the very core of your being. Then come the 2-year-old hits and kicks and scratches and he is now in hysterical meltdown mode.
I holler over the drama to my husband to check out while I take him out to the car. No simple task, however. I bob and weave to avoid the swings and wind up carrying him upside down horizontally, while I scurry out of the store. I can feel the stares of the patrons who wonder what I could have possibly done to make this child so angry. “It was the balloons!” I shriek as sprint toward the parking lot.
Managing to get the flailing child into the car seat, I wipe away the river of snot that has now made its way into his mouth and slink into the passenger seat of the car anticipating the next wave of PTM. Then I hear, “Mama, how are you?” We survived this round of Toddler Public Meltdown.
What tips do you have to survive PTM: Public Toddler Meltdown?