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.