This morning, I noticed we are running low on diapers, low on laundry detergent and out of disinfectant spray. Time for a bi-monthly run to Costco. It’s a nice day, and this gave me the energy to tackle this journey with both kiddos, all by myself. I went into it being realistic, knowing I’d have to move quick, knowing that I’d need a charged iphone to distract. It could have been a really easy trip, but I decided to hold the line after directing my son, “you have to share.”
Halfway into this speedy Costco trip, my daughter complains, “Baby isn’t sharing”. (My daughter still calls her brother “Baby” even though he’s almost as tall as her). Why? All he has to do is hold the phone in front of him as he watches youtube nursery songs. Costco has the greatest carts for sharing; they can sit next to each other and watch together. Something he had no problem doing for the first 15 minutes as we picked up grapes, milk, eggs, wipes, diapers, and detergent. But asking a two year old to share for this long of a period is probably not so realistic. I tell him, “share with your sister”. I get a firm “no” in response. I tell him, “I’m going to take it away and give it to her if you don’t share.” “No, mine.” Option 1, let him have it. Avoid a scene. Get my daughter’s attention on something else so she doesn’t feel upset. Option 2, hold my ground. Prepare for Hurricane Terrible Two.
I wouldn’t judge anyone for picking Option 1. In fact, if this had been an end of the day errand rather than a morning errand, I’m not confident I would pick Option 2. But Option 2 it is on this sunny morning. I pull the phone out of his tight-gripped hand, and the crying starts.
My son no longer has different levels of crying. He used to have whimpers, a different cry for when he wanted something, another cry for when he got in trouble. But since he became a full-fledged Terrible, his one and only cry sounds as though he is in great physical pain. It’s the kind of cry that if you were in a different room you’d feel sure we’re headed to the hospital for stitches, the loss of a finger, or other terrible accidents I don’t want to even think about.
My son turned two over 6 months ago, and he has been a Terrible the entire time. He has so much attitude and a mean-mugging face that is so adorably angry, it’s hard to keep a straight-face at first. However, the length of the crying coupled with the volume turns very non-adorable. My daughter was not like this at two. She was more of a Terrible at three, but nowhere near as terrible as my son. I was not prepared for him to be such a good Terrible.
So here I am in the middle of the freezer section with a tantruming Terrible. I know he’s going to now try to climb out of his seat, so I think “use reverse psychology”. I say to my Terrible, “how about you get out of the cart?” as I hold my arms open to help. He yells “no, I want phone. Mine. Mine,” and he continues to cry loudly. And I’m thinking “yes, it worked”. So we continue down the next aisle, and everyone who passes me makes sure to avert their eyes. I have no time to worry about their judgment, and I’m at a point in my life where I don’t care. For me, the lesson I’m teaching my son about sharing is more important than a stranger’s ability to enjoy their shopping experience in the frozen fruit and vegetable section. So we get to the next aisle, and the crying and “mine’s” do not subside or decrease in volume. A woman pushing her cart in the opposite direction is the first shopper to make eye contact. Sympathetically, she puts her hand on my shoulder and says “it’s okay” and continues down the aisle. Thank you mystery Costco shopper for being the only person kind enough to acknowledge Hurricane Terrible Two is happening.
I then cross over to a section with bed sheets and some pillow-pet looking toys. No one is in this aisle. We stop, and I start Phase 2 of surviving Hurricane Terrible Two: wait it out. Once we stop though, my daughter immediately feels bored, and she wants out. What do I do? If she gets out, he will want out, and the reverse psychology will be useless. But my daughter has been good, and I don’t want to consequence her for her brother’s meltdown. “Okay”. I take her out and she runs over to the pillow-pet looking toys, and I prepare for the hurricane to jump out. He stands up, I uselessly tell him to “sit down” and he throws himself out at me. Phase 3 begins: walk away.
He now refuses to move as I say “come on” and I begin walking away as he continues his crying and yelling “no!”. As I get further away, his desperation gets greater. He doesn’t even know why he’s crying anymore. He throws himself to the ground in full-tantrum style, tears streaming down his face. He’s breaking, I can feel it. I walk back over and prepare for Phase 4: hug it out. As I come closer he looks up at me and says, “I want Mommy.” I pick him up, and he wraps his arms around me tightly. It’s over, and I’m worn out. I carry him as I push my heavy cart all the way down to the checkout. Didn’t get the cheese. Didn’t get the potting soil. Didn’t get to browse through the kids’ summer clothing. It’s okay though.
We get out to the car. The kids get into their seats and get themselves buckled while I load the back with our Costco supplies. We survived Hurricane Terrible Two at Costco. Within minutes, he’s completely out, sound asleep in his carseat. Such an angelic face.