Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Trust me, I didn't order the tears and tantrums

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IF there is a test for patience, I recently had one.
Picture a mother with two children, both of whom are under the age of two (this is important for later) going to run an errand.

Everything began all right. I timed the naps and meal times so that everyone would be rested and well fed so as to avoid any emotional meltdowns. We all arrived at our destination in good spirits. Clearly, I was unaware of what awaited me a few short minutes later.

Venturing out with young children is similar to playing baseball. You are presented with challenges and if you do not handle them well, it is a strike against you.

If you are lucky, you get three strikes before all sense of normalcy rapidly becomes chaos. Sometimes you strike out before you even get up to bat.

The errand was to drop off some forms at a government building. As everyone is aware, these establishments have a tendency to have long wait times.

While I would have preferred to do this type of errand without my brood of offspring, it was unavoidable. The line up was brutally long. My oldest son started to get a little anxious.

When we finally arrived at the front of the line, I was handed a stack of forms and told I would have to wait until I was called.

Strike 1.

Please note that attempting to fill out forms in ridiculous amounts of detail while balancing a screaming toddler on your lap is a talent. If you do not think so, I dare you to try it.

The pleasant receptionist returned with some crayons and paper for my screaming child. While this was a nice gesture, we were beyond the point where crayons would appease him.

The young girl proceeded to get a face full of crayons. By this time, the screaming had escalated to a decibel that only dogs could hear.

Strike 2.

Miraculously, my name was called a few short minutes later. Curious, considering there were at least 10 people ahead of me. Although, from the looks on everyone's face, no one minded if we cut in.

The consultant that I spoke to checked over my forms so quickly I am sure she succeeded in giving herself a few paper cuts flipping the pages. After some questions, answers and tears (by my children, not me, although I was getting close) we had finished what we came to do.

Hurrah! We were on the home stretch. As I headed for the door, my son's patience had worn out. His flailing arms connected with my nose and gave me a rather ghastly nosebleed.

A second hand connected with my glasses sending them flying across the room. It was around this time that my newborn decided to make his presence known. More screams filled the room.

So, now I am blind and bleeding with a wicked headache. Never underestimate the power of a toddler.

Strike 3. I'm Out.

A few people came to my aid, offering tissues and assistance to my car. Everyone else just gave me that look all parents are familiar with. "The Look" as I have coined it, is a stare that encompasses pity and annoyance all in the same icy glance.

For the record, "The Look" is not only unnecessary, it is completely unhelpful. We parents are trying our absolute best, and trust us, we did not order the tantrum.

As I was heading to my car, an older gentleman passed me and said, "Hang in there, mom." The comment made me realize that all parents are "tested" by their children from time to time.

The best we can hope for is an "A" for effort.

Jodi Hargreaves lives in Winnipeg.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 22, 2005 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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