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  Tuesday January 27th, 2015    

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Do you know where your keys are? (04/02/2004)
By Cynthya Porter

A little word for the woman at the store the other day with the screaming toddler; lady, I feel your pain.

We're not talking about a little temper tantrum. We're talking about a 30-pound hand grenade going off in the middle of the most crowded place possible, and a bedraggled mother trying her best to be firm and keep the kid from wrecking the place at the same time. And not go insane.

Oh yeah. I had one of those too.

We used to have those little character-building episodes when my daughter was around three and didn't get something she wanted, or missed a nap, or sometimes for no apparent reason at all. And the funny thing was I never gave in, but sometimes her temper tantrums grew a life of their own, and I'd watch half amazed, half scared as my cherubic child turned into the Tasmanian devil.

Like the time I tried to take her home from the WSHS dance line competition.

It was nap time and she'd fallen asleep on the bleachers, so we left my other daughter behind to ride home with friends and I started across the gym with the sleeping child.

Halfway to the door, she woke up and realized we were leaving and Mallory was staying, and she instantly lost her mind. Carrying her was like trying to carry a miniature bucking bronco, and as I struggled to not drop her I wondered if people thought I was kidnapping her. She screamed. She kicked. She pulled my hair, all in front of about 300 people. But little did they know, she was just getting warmed up.

By the time we reached the doors we were deep in the throes of the Mother of All Meltdowns, and my sweet toddler had turned into something out of the Exorcist. I can't actually prove it, but I'm pretty sure her head was spinning around.

Outside, I had to readjust and pin her arms down so she could no longer hit me or pull my hair.

So she spit at me instead.

I held her closer, to reduce the spitting distance I guess, and she ended up leaving a trail of snot in my hair. I looked at my hair in horror. She looked like she'd just figured out something wonderful. You could almost see the little light bulb come on. She started blowing her nose as hard as she could and straining closer to get as much snot in my hair as possible, all the way to the car.

Finally at our vehicle, I unlocked the back door, threw my purse up on the front seat and deposited her into the back seat, still kicking and screaming. By this time I was spit on, slapped and full of snot, and frankly, I needed a minute to regroup, so I shut the door and leaned against the car .

Then I heard it.


She'd locked me out of the car.

I looked at her in disbelief, and she stared back with smug satisfaction. "Open the door," I said. "No."

So there we sat, at a stalemate; me and a three-year-old with all the power in the world all of a sudden. Short of breaking a window I did the only thing left for a mother to do at that point; I started to laugh. I laughed at the absurdity of what had just happened, I laughed at my daughter's frightening intensity, and I laughed at my utter helplessness. But I did not laugh about the snot in my hair, because that was not funny.

Whether she got bored or finally felt like she'd gotten enough power back I'll never know, but eventually she unlocked the door and we were on our way home for a long overdue nap. For us both.

Today, few people would ever look at my quiet first grader and think she was capable of coming unhinged like that, and to those people I can only shake my head. Let me put it this way; not a day goes by that I don't wake up and thank God that my daughter isn't three anymore.

And to the woman in the store; all I can say is hang in there, this too shall pass. But in the meantime, do you know where your keys are?



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