To the Mom Whose Toddler Melted Down at the Children’s Museum

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Hey there, Mom. Yeah, you, juggling the toddler melt down and the disappointed preschooler in the women’s restroom at Betty Brinn Children’s Museum at 3 p.m. on a weekday. 

Teach me your ways.

I tried to give you a sympathetic look as I left the bathroom with my lone, non-crying child. Usually when I’m out and about with two kids, I’m working with the same odds you are. The difference between you and me is that you braved a late afternoon trip out of the house with two children, and I try to avoid that whenever possible, exactly because I aim to evade the situation in which you found yourself.

But you did it anyway. You toted two children to Betty Brinn at peak I-need-a-nap-time. And then your toddler lost her mind, as toddlers do, and you found yourself wrestling her in the restroom and trying to console your older child as it became clear that it was Time To Go Home.

And you know what? You also seemed like you didn’t really need that reassuring glance I attempted. Because you had this situation in. the. bag.

Here’s what amazed me: With a sad child and a mad child at the most exhausting, break-needing time of day, you were perfectly calm. Your tone of voice was absolutely even. You glided back and forth between reassuring and apologetic and firm with seemingly effortless dexterity.

If you could bottle that chill, lady, you’d be a millionaire. And I would be your first customer.

I realize it probably wasn’t actually effortless. If you’re anything like me, you were silently screaming on the inside. But you were gentle and unwavering in your discipline of your toddler. You didn’t shame or blame her, but you made it clear that her actions had direct and immediate consequences.

And at the same time, you were continuously aware of your older child. You made sure she knew that she hadn’t done anything wrong.

I hope you had someone at home that evening who could take over for you so you could soak in the tub or play World of Warcraft or do whatever it is you do to unwind. 

I also hope that you are a scientist so you can get to work on formulating a drinkable (or injectable; I’m not picky) version of your parenting style. 

Is your house a Daniel Tiger house? Mine is. My four-year-old will often stop and comment, “Well, you know what Daniel Tiger says,” and then sing one of his little songs about trying new foods or taking turns. 

Actually, sometimes she just name-checks Daniel Tiger with no particular lesson in mind when she wants to make a point. Imagine her disappointment when I call her out on it and it turns out that Daniel Tiger does not, in fact, have a catchy jingle that justifies letting her stay up an extra hour to watch TV.

Lately, you’ve been my Daniel Tiger. In the moments of stress, I’ll find myself thinking, “Well, you know how Betty Brinn Restroom Mom would handle this.” And I take a deep breath and try to find the capacity to be calm and gentle with my children. I hope you know that it wasn’t just your children who had a good role model in that awful moment. 

And for real — if you manage to somehow distill the essence of your patience, please put me down for 100 cases of your strongest formula.

toddler melt down

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