Friday, December 3, 2010

On Snowflakes and Tantrums

“Remember, this program is for Santa, so if you’re naughty, Santa will see and he won’t come on Christmas,” I said to Natalie as we settled down into some chairs. We were at Tommy’s school, all set to watch his Christmas program, and I was worried that Natalie wouldn’t behave.

It’s just....okay, she’s good a lot of the time. But she has her moments. And these moments seem to occur in public. I could picture her running up to the stage like that kid did in the movie Parenthood. I could see her pushing down the Christmas tree or maybe even grabbing it while shouting, “It’s mine!” Then she’d struggle to pull it off the stage and all the audience would see was the tree bobbing across while I was off to the side going, “Natalie! For the love of God! Drop the tree!”

So yeah, I lied and told her that Santa wouldn’t come if she didn’t listen. I know the experts frown on saying stuff like that, but those experts aren’t stuck raising two kids alone for a year.

“The elves will bring me presents then,” Natalie replied in a haughty tone as she smoothed down her ultra adorable gingerbread skirt. She may act like a total brat at times, but at least she’s well dressed.

“The elves work for Santa so no they will not,” I said simply, moving my legs inward so another family could slide past.

“They WILL!” Natalie snapped, crossing her arms over her chest, a move that she mastered when she was only one. Funny, I thought it was cute then (“look Tom, look at how she’s crossing her tiny arms over her tiny chest!”) but now I panic when I see her arms folded like that because shouting usually follows.

“Just behave. Okay? Just sit down, watch the singing, and everything will be great,” I said.

“I WILL!” Natalie barked. “I WILL, I WILL!”

The family in front of us turned and frowned. What? The program hadn’t even started yet. And ew, the father totally had a nose hair poking out from his left nostril.

“Thank you,” I said, my teeth clenched. It was times like those when I wished I could afford a nanny. Then I could have been like, “Inge, if Natalie acts up, please remove her from the room so I can stay and watch my son.”

“Mommy,” Natalie said sweetly, about five minutes before the show was supposed to start. “I have to pee.”

“It’s about to begin,” I answered.

“I have to PEE!”

Nose Hair Dad turned around again. I hope his wife got him a set of clippers for Christmas.

“Natalie, it’s just, I’m not sure when Tommy’s class is set to sing and I don’t want to miss it and—”

“I have to pee.” Natalie emphasized this by gripping her crotch.

I took Natalie’s hand and led her to the bathrooms. Naturally, she didn’t do a thing. We rushed back and settled back down.

“Why does she always have to see the bathrooms?” Tommy complained. He was sitting with us, because his school isn’t that big so there was no room for all the students to stay separate from everyone else.

“Good question, Tommy,” I said right as a kid plopped down beside us.

“Who are you?” the strange kid asked me. “Hi Tommy.”

It took all my willpower not to say, “Who are YOU?” Instead I said, “I’m Tommy’s Mom.”

He blinked at me. “Oh. I thought you were the babysitter. Hey, why doesn’t Tommy talk that much in school? I’m in his class and he barely says a thing.”

I saw Tommy’s face turn red and my heart squeezed a bit. How do you explain Aspergers to another child? How do you explain that Tommy doesn’t really understand the purpose of small talk and only speaks when he’s passionate about the subject?

“He talks when he has something to say,” I explained.

Tommy dug into his pocket and pulled out a snowflake that he cut out from paper. Some of his designs are impressive and they seem to be his latest obsession. So it was no surprise when Tommy told the kid, “Look what I made for Anna.”

The kid snorted. “You like Anna?”

Tommy looked confused. “Yes.”

The kid laughed. “You LIKE Anna?” I could see exactly where this was going. Tommy didn’t understand that the kid was implying that Tommy like liked the girl. To Tommy, he liked Anna as a friend and didn’t understand what this kid meant. It’s just another thing he struggles with, understanding this social world that he’s a part of.

“Anna is his friend,” I cut in. “He wanted to make a snowflake for his friend.”

The kid opened his mouth to say something but then the program started so he shut it.

Natalie did not want to stay in her seat. She kept doing this:

“I’m swimming,” she said.

“Please get in your seat,” I hissed.

“I’m swimming,” she insisted. “I can’t sit down because I’m swimming.”

I took deep breaths and counted to ten. I’ve never had my patience tried so much by one kid. With Tommy, he was always hyper, but I worried more about him because he wasn’t talking, because he wasn’t interacting, because he was so behind than the other kids his age…

Tommy eventually went up:

Natalie thankfully sat down on my lap.

“That’s my brother,” she said proudly. “That’s my brother up there.”

Then when it was all over, she did not want to leave.

“Natalie,” I said. “Let’s put on your jacket so we can go.”

And she did this:

Yes. That’s her PLUGGING her ears, pretending that she couldn’t hear me.

“Santa isn’t coming then,” I said.

So she cried and said that yes, Santa was coming.

“Put on your jacket then. Mommy wants to go home and watch Grey’s Anatomy. I’ve had a very long day.”

“Come on Natalie, you’re so loud all the time,” Tommy chimed in.

This insulted her.

“Tommy. Please. You aren’t helping,” I said.

“Why are you yelling at me?” he griped.

“I’m not. I’m just—” I rubbed my temples. When Tom comes back, I’m taking a weekend for myself. “Natalie. Put your jacket on now. I am the parent, and you will listen to me.”

Natalie, whose moods can dissipate in a matter of seconds, sighed and went, “Okay then.”

“I want to go home and make more snowflakes,” Tommy said excitedly. “Do you want one?”

He’s already made me ten.

“Sure, Tommy,” I agreed.

After all, aren’t all snowflakes different?


  1. I so feel for you! but you are right they are dressed to the nines!! LOL!

  2. You definitely deserve a weekend to yourself when Tom gets back. (Hugs)Indigo

  3. I think you're doing an awesome job - no matter what the experts or long nose hair man think. I think you need more than a weekend when Tom gets back, more like a week. You've earned it.

  4. I love paper snowflakes.
    I realize that wasn't the point, but I do.
    I do not love crowded elementary schools!!

  5. Tommy is so patient with his sister. One day I hope she appreciates that :o)

  6. I want to know how they learn that arm folded across the chest thing? And, in a way, you're lucky to be able to say "those experts aren't stuck raising two kids alone for a year" because there are 2 of us and I STILL use that bribe to get my kids to get along. ;)

  7. I hate teasing, so I would have evil-eyed that kid. And, yes, I frequently evil-eye children that are being mean that are not mine. And no, I would not have evil-eyed Natalie, because she wasn't being mean. While my 2 year old down not cross her arms, she does already have eye-rolling down pat. The horror.

  8. Snowflakes are the best. Glad that natalie did evenutally agree and you DEFINITELY need a weekend by yourself! :)

    Its so hard to explain why our kids are different. And its so hard not to momma bear them and kick the other kid for making fun of my kid.

  9. "Experts" are sometimes full of crap. You've got to do what you've got to do when those situations arise. Glad you got to see Tommy's program! My youngest never lets us sit for long at any function. He is screaming and throwing a fit within minutes of arriving.

  10. Tommy is such a sweetiepie! And don't worry about little Natalie, my daughter does the same things. I'm just praying it's a phase. . .it HAS to be, right?!

  11. Oh little Natlie... she reminds me of myself when I was a kid except much better dressed.

  12. We've always wondered if something was up with our oldest. He's been tested for different stuff...ADD...ADHD...Autism....etc.

    Nothing ever came back definitive.

    Not long ago, a lady attended our church and sat near MAx during the service.

    Turns out, she is an Asberger's expect who works with a non-profit group for those kids. She talked with us after church and asked tons of questions. She said she could tell just from watching him during the service that he had it, but our answers to her questions confirmed it.

    It's starting to make sense to us know.

    Really explains the whole deep fascination of Star Wars thing he's always had.

  13. Thank you for the laugh. I'm in a mood where I just needed something with a little oomph!

    Look at it this way. You will NEVER have a dull moment :)

    I'm sorry though, because I know it can be challenge.

    Years ago my little brother who is autistic use to lay and on the floor in the middle of Wal Mart kicking and screaming. It was something that simply became part of the shopping experience. Most of the time you want to pull your teeth out, but the other times you’re so not in the mood that you simply keep pushing the cart, leaving him down isle 2. He'll be fine.

  14. where are the parents of the rude kid?
    I get that kids ask questions - fine - thats healthy and I think they should ask rather than be shamed into silence... but common kid. he should be at least sensitive or smart or something!

  15. Maybe you could hire a sitter for a day and take a day for yourself right now?

    It's a thought. Maybe not a practical one, but a thought.

    Or find a way to arrange that they both have friends with birthday parties on the same day. ;)

  16. Wow, you definitely have your hands full with Natalie. I think Tom got the better end of this deal! LOL

    My daughter is very headstrong also and can be challenging. I tell myself that at least she won't be a victim to peer pressure in her teen years!

  17. When they're teenagers, they tell you how embarrassing you are to be with, which I think is pretty strong coming from people who've made you squirm in your seat thousands of times!

  18. It's so easy for others to get all judge-y concerning children...or concerning anything, for that matter. I can't imagine having to handle two children without my husband. Heck, I get squirmy if I don't get a break from baby girl after a week. I'd probably have to be committed after a year. Hats off to you, friend.

  19. I love attending things without a helper. Such fun!

    I am a slacker and actually skipped out on Cub Scouts tonight simply because I didn't want to go it alone in the FREAKING COLD.

  20. I vote for a week to yourself when Tom returns. But don't tell Tom I said so. ;)

  21. I sort of just love Natalie a whole lot. It might be really bad if she weren't so freaking cute. But I DO feel your pain on the strongwilled patience trying child thing.

    On the totally didn't miss Tommys performance!

  22. What an outing. My kids drained me today, so that's all I've got for a comment.

  23. Natalie is a doll. But you've heard the old saying: "Pretty is as pretty does". This says it well. Ya think maybe she needs a hobby? How about archery?

    A year! I wonder if Tom is attracted to bald-headed women. I hope so, for your sake. You poor worn-ragged mama.

  24. No one thinks I'm the babysitter. Grandma? Yes. But not the babysitter. I think the rude kid gave you a compliment. Natalie is a teeny-tiny cutiepie of a drama queen. (Except for the toilet fixation. That one doesn't jibe.)

  25. You gave that little boy just the right answers. Tommy too...of course you want more snowflakes! I don't know where little girls get their headstrong ways (sometimes I wish I'd gotten them), but they can be exhausting. Definitely you deserve more than just a weekend to yourself!

  26. Natalie and my youngest would get along swimmingly!

  27. She's too cute to be a little stinker like you! :) I love paper snowflakes. We need to make some this weekend I think.

  28. Ouch. Tough day at the theater. Paper snowflakes to the rescue.

  29. Bet nose hair man disappears when his kids have a "moment". You've earned a long weekend at a spa by now, surely.

  30. I'm pretty sure you deserve an entire week to yourself when Tom gets back. Not at first maybe but after like a week or so.

    Just ignore the staring. I did and my kids grew up fine(ish). We all just do the best we can.


  31. This brought back memories - good and bad! You are doing an awesome job as a mother and Santa better come to you!!!

  32. Do you have one of those elf on the shelf things? I think you can get them at the move the elf around the house every night after Natalie goes to bed and the premise is that he's always somewhere in the house watching for good and bad behavior to report back to Santa. Then you don't have to tell her Santa won't come anymore, just remind her that the elf is watching her every move and reporting back.

  33. I am so glad you stood up for Tommy when that rude kid was asking all his rude questions. The "experts" (who are really not experts) say to let your child talk for themselves- that's a load of poo sometimes. I would've been like, "Get lost you little SOB" and then got kicked out for cursing at a child. Really though..where were his parents? Your kids are adorable in their cute outfits. When Tom comes back, you better take a weekend trip with your girlfriends or by yourself! You deserve it!

  34. I just love the way your write!! The last line is the perfect ending :-)

  35. Natalie sure gives you a run for your money. But how can you get mad at her when she's so darn cute? And Tommy? He's cute inside AND out!

  36. HUGSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!! You never said how Tommy did! I'll bet he was great!

    You're doing a wondeful job, hun. Even when it feels like you aren't, YOU ARE!!

  37. I don't know how you do it with Tom gone. I think you deserve about a 2 week vacation in the bahamas or something when he gets back (not just a weekend).

    P.S. nose hair is the most disgusting thing. Ewww!

  38. You are such a great mom handling it all by yourself. I went to 2 holiday concerts for the granddaughter in the last week, one at the mall. Fortunately, I made it through without having to pee. =D


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