Yesterday, I enrolled my kids in a new playgroup. And by “enrolled,” I mean I scribbled their names down on index cards and marched their happy asses into the lions’ den of forced childhood socialization.
It went well, for about four minutes. Grace wasted no time in terrorizing the “Sensory Play” table by ruthlessly ripping play-doh away from the other participants and shoveling it into her mouth by the sticky fistful. The other mothers quickly advised me not to worry, as it was homemade with all natural ingredients (so is horse shit, but I don’t serve that at the dinner table). They were much less accommodating when she picked up an empty Tupperware container and began to use it as an implement of blunt force trauma, making frequent contact with the other children’s skulls. This was actually a welcome distraction from the pathological growling that Declan lapsed into every time another child came within a 5-foot radius.
My issue with the playgroup, however, was much less with my kids’ violent outbursts and much more with the other mothers’ reactions. Yes, I’m aware that my children are neurotic sociopaths. So are yours. Toddlers have the prefrontal cortex of a barn owl. They act like sociopaths because they literally have the same brain anatomy as a recently lobotomized mental patient.
Many people mistakenly assume I think my children are terrible and that I have created this blog solely to ridicule them. Not at all. I think my children are pretty awesome. All things considered, it’s surprising to me they don’t erupt into bloodthirsty rages more often.
But every toddler meltdown reaches a point of no return. Once that line is breached, no amount of rational explanation, however well-intentioned, will return the toddler to sanity. Think of your child as Kim Jong-Il in a candy store. One that sells nuclear missiles instead of chocolate. Diplomacy is of no value here.
If I had to listen to one more mother attempt to talk my kid off the proverbial ledge with four-syllable words, I was going to be the one hopelessly crying into my carpet square. And while I appreciate their efforts, sometimes my screeching offspring need to be forcefully removed from a situation before irreversibly melting into a pile of mucous and tears.
So yes, I occasionally have to scrape my child off the floor like a screaming piece of gum and walk out of the room with all three kids hanging off my limbs, limp with outrage. And yes, I generally do this without explaining myself to them or to others. This is not because I don’t believe in the power of communication, but because I’m saving my breath for a time when my child is physically capable of understanding language. Newsflash: When a 2-year-old is on the verge of asphyxiating on his own rage-powered snot, no combination of “feeling words” will magically bestow upon him a capacity for rational thought.
My “flee the scene” approach to child-rearing seems to fly in the face of common wisdom. We are taught from a young age to talk about our problems, to never go to bed angry, to share our innermost fears and emotions with others. But sometimes, life is a burning building and you just have to get your kids the heck out.