Her round little face was turning purple, beads of sweat were appearing on her forehead, her cute little hair clippie was askew and fine little strands of hair were going every which way, her tiny little limbs were twisting and turning frantically, and veins were bulging with the effort she was exerting...not to mention the shrieking. Oh, the shrieking. It was painful, ear-piercing, glass shattering, and damn was it embarassing.
Odds are by now you've got a pretty decent picture in your head of my lovely little darling's tantrum. But this is not just any tantrum. This one is acted out with great regularity. Not because I've taken something away from her, or have told her no. It is not because she is overly tired. It is because she is confined. Strapped in, held down, unable to escape, and plain ol' stuck. Nope, she's not in her crib. Not being forcibly bent in half by a knee to the gut to be put into her carseat. I'm not using every arm muscle known to man to prevent her from wiggling out of my grasp in the middle of a parking lot. She's not on a leash (although, believe me, I've considered it) No, she is being held prisoner in what SHE considers the worst form of torture known to toddlers everywhere: the shopping cart. As far as she is concerned, they should have shopping carts at Gitmo, because nothing is worse than being strapped into one. Not when she thinks she should be given the freedom to wander the aisles of Target at will.
It has gotten to the point where she will start whimpering as soon as we pull into the parking lot, the full blown whining kicks in as I park the car. We start walking towards the carts and she will do everything in her power to climb out of my arms and escape. Occasionally I will get lucky and she will let me initially put her in; we manage to make it past the front doors but then all hell breaks loose. It's like she all of a sudden she snaps out of it, realizes where she is, and she freaks. Completely flips her shit. Then you've got the limb twisting, vein popping, and screaming. And you better believe I've tried everything to keep her in there, let's just say that it IS possible to cut off circulation to your child's lower extremities with the buckles on a shopping cart (and a strong forearm to the upper thighs). Bribery can occasionally buy me a few minutes. Yep, I'm that mom that opens boxes of fruit snacks or granola bars in the store. A bag of Goldfish doesn't stand a chance if it will get me down the aisles. M&M's at 9:30 in the morning? Hell yeah! Not a whole lot is off limits...I've learned that my toddler does in fact enjoy Diet Coke...dammit. I'm that mom that you see chucking marshmallows at her kid every 12 seconds in the hopes that I can at least make it long enough to get 5 out of the 25 items on my list. Letting her look at toys is a no-go because she gets pissed that I won't take Kiss my Ass Elmo out of the box and I'll be damned if I'm going to spend $20 to bribe her to sit still long enough for me to get a gallon of milk and a pack of diapers. So we do our best to avoid that section of any store otherwise you will see me strolling the aisles with a fidgety toddler being suffocated by the 15 baby dolls, 7 books, and 32 Elmo toys I've thrown at her in my attempts to distract her long enough to keep her in the cart. The longest I've lasted is about 30 minutes before she manages to Houdini herself out of the straps. By that point I've already been ignoring dirty looks from other shoppers for about 29 minutes (due in part to the shrieking) so it doesn't phase me when I'm getting the stink eye from people who are clearly more concerned than I am about my daughter standing in the seat of a shopping cart with one hand on the nearest shelf and a foot on the handle of the cart in her last-ditch effort to get the hell out of dodge. I have been known to give in and dump her in the basket portion of a cart. She should have figured out by now that one should SIT; going over a bump or any kind of jerking motion can result in a tumble and a can of shaving cream up the keester. But she really hasn't learned yet and therefore I have had to swap out squished loaves of bread that she has sat on. BUT she is still in the cart, so mom wins....kind of...because chances are she's standing there screaming and crying, purple face, snot everywhere, tears dripping all over...whatever. It's a phase, one that my other two went through (that I apparently blocked out; understandable since it's a less-than-pleasant experience). She'll get over it eventually, but I will NOT give in and let her wander around freely. I will not carry my 20-some pound toddler through a store while trying to push a cart (and I usually end up with the carts with the jacked up wheels making pushing even more difficult). Even if I have to weigh her down in the cart and start using bungee cords, she WILL stay in there.
Like all of the other unpleasantries of parenthood, "this too shall pass". In the meantime I will continue my forays into any store that requires usage of a cart, my toddler will have her meltdowns, disrupt other shoppers with the purple-faced-hair-sticking-up-vein-popping-limb-twisting tantrums, but we'll all get over it. And some of my trips may end in me wanting to push the cart headlong into a rack of jeans and leaving her there or swapping carts with some poor, unsuspecting shopper leaving them with my spawn, and some end semi-successfully with me checking out (looking about as miserable as my toddler) handing the cashier opened, half-empty boxes of fruit snacks and bashfully asking her to put back the laxatives and jock-itch cream that "somehow" ended up in my cart. Either way, I was victorious as my spawn never made it out of the cart, but it wasn't without a lot of hard work and bribery. So the next time you see a harried, flustered, frustrated mom plying her upset toddler with M&M's and tootsie pops, chances are she's not spoiling her child but desperately trying to make it long enough to get the toilet paper that she needs.