Sunday, July 27, 2014

Screaming in the Car

I haven't been in the car with a screaming child for a long time. Not that I'm a stranger to it - neither Helen nor Connor liked the car when they were little, and they were willing to let me know it.

But for the past several years, I don't tense up at car rides. And it's fair to say that although I remember the trauma of those rides, I don't really remember what it was like to navigate a car through the noise.

On Sunday, we made a last minute decision to head to an outdoor concert. The concert ended at 7:30. Helen had a ball, skipping back and forth through the amphitheater, smiling and high fiving me as she passed. Connor enjoyed it as well, but in more of laid-back manner, propped on my lap.

Helen wanted to walk to a nearby stream, and Ed and I decided that would be fine. It's summer, right? What does she need to get up in the morning for? Well, those things are true, but that doesn't mean she doesn't get tired at night. I don't think either of us realized how close she was to the edge.

To save time, I had brought a little treat for the kids so that we could get them to bed once we got home, rather than serving them their traditional night-time treat. Helen didn't want to eat the M&Ms I offered her at first, because she wanted to wait until she could have them from a little tube she has that came with M&Ms. And so I tucked the packet of M&Ms back in my purse and she opted for a lollipop instead. Only I thought we were delaying the M&Ms until another day. She thought she was getting them when we got home and they could be put in her little tube.

Somehow, this came up on our walk to the car.

Helen was mad. And by the time we got the car, she had started to work herself up. And after a few minutes, she got quite a scream going.

This was actually incredibly painful for me, because I knew if I could just hold her I could help her calm down. But she was in the way-back seats of the car, and I was in the front. She cried for about 30 seconds and then I turned around and told her that we would be home and I would hold her soon. She cried for another 30 seconds and I turned around again and told her it was very difficult for Ed to drive with her screaming, so while I was happy to let her have a good scream when she got home, she needed to take a deep breath and be quieter in the car.

She did. And in this process, she got a piece of hair in her mouth, which is really quite funny - and led to a conversation on hairballs and other gross things Connor, Helen, and I could think about. We got inside our house and I pulled out a child size chair, sat on it, asked Helen to sit on my lap - and calmly explained "Helen, I can see you are very angry. You are angry at me. You are angry because you thought I was going to give you the M&Ms when we got home, and I thought you were opting to have them another night. I am happy to put them in the tube, and you may have them tomorrow."

Helen was totally on board with all of this.

And then I told her, as she sat in my lap "we have time for you to either sit in my lap and have a good scream - as long as you need to in order to get all that negative energy out, or we can read more in our book "These Happy Golden Years". It's your choice, but we really don't have time for both."

Helen sat for a moment, took a breath, and said she'd like to read instead of scream. She also said "but can I have just one M&M?".

"No, Helen, the M&Ms are for tomorrow." Because I happen to know a little bit about Helen, and that is that she thinks if it's OK to have one M&M, it's OK to have the whole tube.

Ed smiled. He would've caved and given her the M&M. Helen laughed. She knew the answer was no before she verbalized the question.

I am, of course, grateful she made the choice to read. We ended up having a lovely bedtime that is worth remembering.

But wow...I can't believe how bad screaming in the car can be. Not remembering it in all its gory detail was a gift my mind had given me. Now, I only hope I can wipe the memory out quickly!

I've been meaning to post this picture for a while, Helen. You are the master of disguise these days.

No comments:

Post a Comment