1.28.2010

{ How Karma wears her pants }

Anyone who has raised a child - even those people with the braggy "look at how great my child is - I must be really good at this parenting thing" bumper stickers - knows about tantrums.  Vast tantrum experience has taught me that these usually fall into one of three categories.

Number 1: The tantrum of the misinformed - If you've ever told your kids that you're taking them to the park ... and then as you're leaving you realize that you're supposed to be taking a three course meal to some lady from church that just had a baby and all you have in your cupboard is an open package of broken spaghetti and some condensed milk so you end up at the grocery store at 5:10 buying dinner for someone else's family while trying to figure out how to talk your kids into eating pasta with condensed milk sauce... then you know about the tantrum of the misinformed.  This is often accompanied by screams of "but you said" and "but we always do something boring".

I am all for bribing my way out of this particular type of tantrum.  I find that a child whose mouth is full of candy has a hard time complaining about my mediocre and inconsistent parenting.

Number 2:  The tantrum of denial-  Unlike the tantrum of the misinformed, there's no negotiating your way out of this one.  You can never back down on "no".  Kids are like dogs.  To them, indecision is easier to sniff out than a teenage boy trying to cover up his teenage boy stink with half a bottle of Drakkar Noir.  Once a kid senses that their weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth is starting to sway you - they will not give up until you either give them what they want ... or die.  (This lesson is courtesy of the dog whisperer.  I'm just waiting for that guy to take on a 3 year old with a hankerin' for a breakfast of chocolate cake and fruit snacks.  We'll see how tough he is then.)

Number 3:  The tantrum of the overwhelmed- Take a little bit of tired, add a little bit of hungry, stir in a lot of noise/people/choices and voila!  The tantrum of the overwhelmed.  There's only so much a little kid can take and then, out of self preservation, they make themselves highly undesirable.  This one requires time, space and solitude... for the kid too.

When you put all of these together, you get what is called "the meltdown".  I'm pretty sure that there is an actual rule that says that meltdowns must be made in public, or else they don't count.  Usually  "the meltdown" happens at Target, in church, at the grandparents, or at the doctor's office... and unfortunately for the front desk lady at my doctor's office - she was on the receiving end of my last meltdown.

I often pick up my husband's prescription from our doctor.  He's never on that side of town and he knows that one of my favorite things is running in and out of stores, dry cleaners etc. with my 4 children.  It's big fun. On this particular day, I had driven the 20 minutes to my sister's to help with her kids because she was not feeling well.  I passed the doctor's office on the way there, but they were still closed and so I planned on picking up the prescription on the way back to get my children from school.

When I left my sister's I realized that I was not going to have enough time to get the prescription unless I wanted to be 10 minutes late to the school... at which point I would surely get a phone call from my daughter asking me where I was because she thought that maybe I forgot about her and she just wanted to make sure I wasn't dead or in jail for speeding.  (I've never been in jail for speeding - or anything else, I am not dead yet, and  (because I know that the smart money goes on me forgetting them) I've set an alarm on my cell phone to remind me about my children.  And yet - no trust.  Go figure.)  I actually did seriously consider just being late, but I went with "super martyr mom" and drove straight to the school knowing full well that I was tacking on almost an hour of extra car time with my kids.

After unpacking the baby and the 4 year old, locating my kids in the cafeteria and loading everyone back into the car (in the rain), I drove the 20 minutes back to the doctor's office to get the prescription.  I unloaded the baby, the 4 year old, the 7 year old, and the 10 year old (in the rain) and headed in.  After refereeing the fight over who would be the elevator button pusher I made it into the office... where I was told that due to a new office policy, I could no longer pick up prescriptions for my husband, and that they were "sure they'd left a message - didn't I get it?"  Yep.  That's why I'm standing here with my 4 kids trying to pick up my husband's prescription.  Misinformation.

The first thing I tried was asking nicely.  I said please and everything.  I pointed out that I'd driven here specifically for this prescription... and my kids... and the rain... and could I please just take the prescription this month and figure something out for next time.  Denial.  I guess that niceness is overrated.  I was starting to lose my grip.

I asked her to speak to the office manager to see if I could get an exception.  She went through the door to the back.  I looked around and could only count 3 children - the 4 year old had somehow escaped into one of the exam rooms with the front desk lady.  On my right the 7 year old was spinning in circles on his heel and knocked over one of the waiting room chairs.  On my left the 10 year old was telling me about how the office smelled bad and she didn't think I should make her do things like this because it was "not fair".  The baby was waking up and he had that crazy look in his eye that clearly said "got milk"... which would mean another 20 minutes in the car with the kids while I nursed him before we could even start the 20 minute drive home... and the answer was still "no" on the stupid prescription.  (I guess that the office manager watches the dog whisperer too.)  Overwhelmed.

That is when it happened. Meltdown.  Some crazy, angry woman, starting yelling out terms like "you people are ridiculous" and "had to make 2 trips to this part of town" and "we are finding another doctor".  I looked around to see who was throwing the tantrum.  Then I realized that I was throwing the tantrum.  Still melting down, knowing I should apologize to the poor-little- front-desk-girl, but totally not in the mood to apologize to the poor-little-front-desk-girl, I grabbed my kids and marched back to the car (in the rain)  - without the prescription.  I thought to myself  "call and apologize", but I went all stubborn and did not call.  Time, space, solitude.

2 days later I called and apologized to the poor-little-front-desk-girl... except she could barely hear me... because my tonsils were swollen together in the back of my throat... because I had a raging case of strep... and I needed to come into the doctor's office... to get a prescription.
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13 comments:

The Laundry Queen said...

You were probably gifted with the strep on your visit to pick-up the prescription that you couldn't pick-up, too! So, so sorry!

Polly said...

I love how you tell it how it is.... really! Thank you - Get better soon!

jakenapril said...

thanks for breakin' it down. and for tellin' it like it is...in the rain, with the kids, and a hungry baby. life. it happens. hope you're feeling better soon! after you get your prescription, of coures!

Shelli said...

There's no accounting for the latest barrage of bureaucracy meant to cause meltdowns in wives and mothers, let alone children. I recently went to pick up a book at the library...a book someone in my home requested and which the automated system called to tell me was there but did NOT specify by whom in my home the request was made! When I arrived to pick it up, the "nice-front desk girl" told me I couldn't check it out because it was for my husband and we did not have a shared account. "Do you have his library card?" she asks. "Why would I have his library card when I didn't know it was a book HE had requested (see above)?" "Our system doesn't specify the patron in order to protect their privacy." I resort to niceness. "Please let me take it. You have no idea how hard it is for me to get out and run errands these days, let alone going to the same place twice," I plead. Her reply, "I'm sorry, I just can't do that."

I fumed and fussed all the way home, got his card, brought it back and said to the same nice-front desk girl, with a touch of acidity, "I hope you never have to take care of a family member with cancer and then find out you have to use your energy to make unnecessary trips back and forth to satisfy a stupid ridiculous rule!" Bless her heart, she was still nice and made our accounts shared right then. But good grief! Why is it getting easier to divide husbands and wives? Next, we'll have to have our children in tow to pick up their prescriptions!!!

I did not apologize either, E, but I didn't get strep throat. I'm sorry you did. Exceptional post as usual!!!!

Jadie said...

Oh my gosh--I am crying!! I think that's my favorite post yet, e. Thanks for the laugh--I needed it today!

Afton said...

"...teenage boy trying to cover up his teenage boy stink with half a bottle of Drakkar Noir."

You, my friend, have a gift.

Every once in a while I have these highly satisfying dreams where I chew some deserving schmuck out in one long, perfectly worded barrage that leaves them utterly speechless. I love those dreams. Because I never have to apologize.

Samurai Mom said...

Reminds me of the time I had a toddler with poopy underwear in one part of the library while the other two were in another part of the library yelling to me that they were in the bathroom and the Librarian of the CHILDREN"S section told me I shouldn't leave my children unattended in the library. 3 kids, 2 involving excrement and only one of me. I lost it and started yelling at the top of my lungs how I had never been treated so rudely in all of my life and how I had been coming to that library for years and everyone had always been so nice before and that children weren't welcome in the library. While my kids screamed and cried as i dragged them out the door. I never go the chance to apologize because I never saw her again. Maybe she quit?

But honestly, maybe she could have offered to HELP ME instead of criticize me?

Amanda Dahl Larimer said...

Hilarious! I have totally been there!

Genet said...

Most of the time I just refuse to do the errands these days. I'd rather stay home (and calm) then go out and risk the drama.

Loralee and the gang... said...

And I thought I had a bad day! You need to go and sit in a hot bubble bath. (yeah I know. Not gonna happen)

Loralee and the gang... said...

...and Shelli, it's things like this that enable bad behavior on the part of the opposite spouse...I am surprised that the librarian didn't have you bring your husband in to make that shared account!

carmar76 said...

The sad thing is that nowadays everyone is so concerned w/ "privacy" and ridiculous rules to try & keep things "private" that logic is dying. Along with his brother, common sense, and his sister, compassion. Oye.

Hope you get to feeling better!!

CarrieMarie

grammy said...

I'm sure if you write to your congressman this rule will be changed -- perhaps it will be known as the E Alert!!! I'm sure glad I didn't have to experience the boys trying to cover up their stink....just girls who--well we won't go there.