Thursday, July 10, 2008

When the kindness of strangers really f's you up.

I'm trying to get Mateo to walk more instead of being strolled, especially during less busy times in parking lots in case he gets it in his head to run off or won't hold my hand.

Today he did pretty good leaving daycare and held my hand until we got to the parking lot. It helped that someone was entering the gated area as we left since he gets timid, even with people he sees all the time.

When we got home, I called my husband to see if he needed the stroller tomorrow morning to bring Mateo out to the car or if I could leave it in the car. He said he didn't need it.

As soon as Mateo's feet hit the parking lot pavement, a mischievous grin opened on his face and he started walking off. I was about 2 feet behind him, so I hurried up and took his hand. As with most toddlers, when he's not feeling timid, he thinks he's invincible and king of the world. And so, with the touch of my hand, he turned into a Grumpasaurus, freaked out and melted to the ground.

No coaxing could convince him to get up, so I had to carry him into the condo complex. When we got through the gate to the "greenbelt" as it's known in real estate listings, I put him down again. He immediately freaked out, fell to the ground and screamed his little head off.

Since I don't deal with this too often because I'm not lucky enough to actually take care of my own kid on a day to day basis (notice the weird sarcasm there?), I usually find this funny. I spent some time trying to gently persuade him to get up off the ground and to calm down, but I realized it was pretty futile.

I looked up and noticed one of my fellow condo residents standing in his back yard area, watching me as I was trying to get my screaming Grumpasaurus up off the ground. He waved at me, so I waved back, even though I had never seen him before.

"Does he want candy?" he asked me.

For a split second I began to doubt he was even talking to me. Since I had Mateo, I'm way more friendlier with strangers than I ever was....well....since probably age 2. So I didn't hesitate to wave back. But now that he asked if Mateo wanted candy...maybe he wasn't talking to me. Ah heck, I answered anyway.

"No...he just wants to be picked up," I said.

I decided to ignore the man since my child's face was turning bright red and he was now really freaking out. I picked up Mateo and started heading to our building.

A few seconds later I heard, "Excuse me! Wait!"

I turned around and the man was coming out his back yard area to the pathway. He had something in his hand. Something shiny. Something purple. Something candy bar-shaped.

"Here you go, big boy," he said to Mateo. Mateo grabbed the candy bar and smiled.

"Now you're all smiles," I said. "Say 'thank you."

There was no way Mateo was going to say thank you, but you know, parents should reinforce these things. Plus the whole thing was weird, so I wanted to get out of there.

Mateo had calmed down a whole lot now that he had the candy bar in his hand. I briefly saw an image of a nut on the package, so I already knew there was no way he could have it. You know, because of the peanut butter incident and me telling the doctor I wouldn't give him peanut butter (or any nuts) until he was three? Ya, because of that.

When we got inside, I knew I had to take the candy bar away from him, and I also knew this was going to break his little heart. I braced myself for another freak-out and took the candy bar away from him.

This is what the man gave him: Cadbury "not for a 17-month old child who can barely eat animal cookies without almost choking" chocolate bar.

And....said freak out ensued.

He clung to me, followed me, wailed at me, had to sit on my lap and nowhere else, refused graham crackers, refused water, refused any sort of love as long as it was on his terms. His favorite shows wouldn't calm him down. His woobie wouldn't calm him down. The one thing I knew would calm him down I wasn't about to give him (pacifier), so we both dealt with the situation until it was time to feed him, which just brought on another bout of tears, clinginess and trying to get in between me and the counter - at all costs.

So yeah, for all you weirdos out there, don't give toddlers candy. I know you have nothing but good (and sorta weird) intentions, but just don't. It really screws up a mom's night. Really. Like REALLY.

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