Monkey Mama

I read an article the other day about how monkeys give in to their babies’ demands if there are other monkeys or people around to witness the tantrum. (You can read it here.) Humans do it too, of course, for any number of reasons. Not wanting to look like a bad mother who can’t “control” her child (as if there is any such thing or it would even be desirable); embarrassment; not wanting the people around her to have to listen to her child’s screams; being somewhere that limits her ability to react the way she’d prefer and just wanting to get through it as fast as possible. Et cetera.

Sam and I went to the post office today and, well. You know how he can be there. But I had bandanna pants to mail and by god I was going to mail them, so we got in line. (It was very long, of course.) At first he played next to me, jumping on and off the little rug. Then a little girl, maybe a year old, walked by and they entertained and chased each other for about five minutes. All was well until we got to the part of the line that is semi-enclosed by rope barriers and a display table. The little girl was long gone and Sam still wanted to play. For a while he was happy going under the ropes, back and forth and touch the wall. But of course he eventually wanted to go further. At first he would run back to the rug and then come when I beckoned, but he grew bolder and ran to the doorway leading out to where the mailboxes are. Oh, and the open door to the street. I went and got him and brought him back. He yelled but I refused to put him down until he listened to me. “You may not go out the door. You have to stay near me.” He went under the rope, ran around the line, and went straight out the door. I chased him, through a crowd of people who did not fucking move out of the way, and he took a sharp turn by the outer door and ran down the line of mailboxes. At the end he stopped, looked at me, and laughed.

I picked him up and carried him back to the line. I did not spank him but oh, I wanted to. He struggled and kicked and yelled and whined and carried on, but I held him and softly reminded him that I could not let him play if he would not listen to me and stay close. I told him he could not get down and he must be pretty angry and it was OK to be upset but he needed to stop shrieking because the people around us should not have to listen to it. I told him it was almost our turn and we were going to mail our packages and then we could go back outside.

I did not try to bribe him. I did not yell at him. I did not apologize to the other customers.

It was HARD. Sometimes I’d rather be a monkey.

12 thoughts on “Monkey Mama

  1. Will (oslowe)

    March 14, 2009 at 6:55am

    I hope you threw elbows at those t@!#s not gettin’ out yr way.

  2. allison

    March 14, 2009 at 9:46am

    You know, if I was one of those people next to you in line, I would be dazzled by your AWESOMENESS.

    allison’s last blog post..Ponderings and Posings

  3. Amy

    March 14, 2009 at 12:05pm

    That’s pretty much applause-worthy.

  4. Amy

    March 14, 2009 at 12:10pm

    Oh, also, it totally reminds me of this bit that I read from the last TWoP recap of Robots:

    “There comes a point in every parent’s day, usually around three o’clock. Not every day, and hopefully not often, but into every parent’s day this moment comes eventually, and we don’t like to talk about it, but the fact is that some days, you have to be really fucking slow with your movements and monitor your vocal tone carefully, or they are going to put you in jail for murdering everybody. And an even bigger secret is that kids — even infants, even just a few days old — know this, and love it. It is their Olympics.”

  5. Cazzle

    March 14, 2009 at 4:14pm

    Respect to you, Mama. I don’t know whether I could have remained so controlled in the same situation.


  6. Jenn

    March 14, 2009 at 7:22pm

    Plus, if you were a monkey, you could have flung some poop at people.

  7. Yeahian

    March 15, 2009 at 6:48pm

    No paper or crayons in your bag of tricks? No regular reader would expect you to apologize for anything. You can, however, weigh your package at home, print out the postage, and avoid the drama.

  8. Annika

    March 15, 2009 at 7:06pm

    Paper and crayons can’t hold this kid. I’ve tried – it just makes my bag heavier.

    And sadly, my printer AND my scale are out of commission. I really should do something about them.

  9. Kim

    March 16, 2009 at 4:12am

    I’m curious about your views on “child leashes” (not recommending). I’ve seen some parents use them successfully, providing the illusion of freedom while preventing the mad dash. I know others who think they’re degrading. Sounds like Sam would chafe under ANY restriction when he’s in that mood.

    Anyway, I always appreciate parents who act like you did. My mom claimed that there’s always “witching hour” when kids become possessed by evil.

  10. Lucretia

    March 16, 2009 at 2:05pm

    Out of interest, did your approach work in getting him to stop “freaking out”?

  11. Annika

    March 16, 2009 at 2:17pm

    Yes and no. It’s hard to say because we got to the front of the line quickly and once there he was happy because he likes window transactions (the bank is another favorite). And when we were done and went back outside he was happy and well-behaved and listened to me on the way home. So I don’t really know.

  12. Annika

    March 16, 2009 at 2:17pm

    Oh, and Kim — I’m opposed to them, and more importantly don’t think Sam would stand for it. I’m usually willing to rethink almost anything, but only if it would work!

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