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March 28, 2011 5:00 am

DefCon 1

The tantrum.  The meltdown.  The random whining.  The kicking and screaming.  The limp body that won’t walk.  The thrusting of the body to the ground.  The complete breakdown in the middle of Target (or grocery store or the mall or a restaurant or church or airplane or  ________________) that you have no clue as to why it was set off, but it did.  The possessed kid.  Clearly not MY child who is respectful and sweet and loving and caring and polite and…right?!  Hells yeah, that’s my kid. 

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I affectionately refer to it as DEFCON 1!  For those of you who have NEVER seen War Games (the movie with Matthew Broderick), you are missing out, but I digress!  There is a point in the movie where, due to his nerdy genius, he has broken down the walls of the US Government’s Safety Net and “war is eminent” so they “take it” to DefCon 1.  This is how I feel when K pulls a knock down, drag out tantrum/fight/fit/cry fest/whatever!!!  It’s at that point where war is most certainly eminent.  Who shall win this battle, well, that remains to be seen.

Ironically enough, before I became a Mama, I had all the illusions/delusions/deceptions/ideas/false impressions/misunderstandings about my parenting techniques.  When I saw moms in the stores/restaurants/the street/ ____________________ with a toddler who was pitching a fit, my mental response was elitist, snarky and certainly something to the effect of “Hrmph!  Get it together lady!” 

Well, fast forward to my current life.  Now my response, when I see the sad, frustrated, tired eyes of a fellow toddler mom, is, “Girl, I have a 3 year old!  I get it!!!”  What I want to add (but don’t) is a hug or a pat on the back and a reminder that this too shall pass (until they go through puberty, but again, I digress!). 

There are two versions of this kind of meltdown:  public and private!  If it’s private, you just put him in his room and let him work it out.  Thank ya Jesus for a door!  Just sayin’!  Now, it’s if public.  Oi Vey!  Make it stop!  No really, make it stop NOW!  The Public DefCon 1 experience is horrifying/unspeakable/appalling/and just strait up terrible.  I know that other non-moms and the general public are thinking, “Just shut that kid up!”  Or maybe they are judging my parenting skills (which are clearly not effective at that moment).  Usually when this happens, I make the choice to leave the shopping cart, leave the restaurant, leave wherever, and just go home and deal with it there.  The beauty of the private meltdown is that no one judges you for how you choose to handle this kind of temper tantrum!  No one is giving you the “cough” hint or the evil eye or the “look over your shoulder” look. 

So, I know that I haven’t given a solution for this kind of catastrophe.  I wish I had some pearls of wisdom to share with you, my friends.  I wish I had all the answers (well maybe not all of them, but some would be nice).  All I can do is just be consistent with my son.  All I can do is remind him that no matter how he acts, I love him, but that kind of behavior is unacceptable.  I can continue to do things that I *think* are working while still remembering that he is, in fact, three years old.  Sometimes there is nothing you can do.  Sometimes, all you can do is just laugh!  Cause if you don’t, you just might cry!