Last week I took the kids to an indoor play space. They were having "Carnival Days", which meant the gymnastics side of the facility was open, along with the regular play area. Usually I avoid taking K to these places, but since the gym has a giant foam pit, which she loves, I figured we'd be OK. And B, well he'd live at these play spaces if he could.
For the most part, we had a great time. K trampolined and foam pitted it up, and B ran around with his little cousin, E. It was busy, but not overly crowded, and I was glad the kids had somewhere other than the house to release their energy.
Because it was Carnival Days, they had different activities and games for the kids. Most of the stuff I knew wouldn't interest my kids, but the one thing I was looking forward to was the make your own sundaes they advertised. That is right up their ally.
Unfortunately, the thing I figured would be the best part of the day, was the thing that shot us straight to...well...you know...
You see, when you say "make your own sundaes", there are certain expectations. Like, you actually get to make a sundae. Not have an employee just bring out trays of half melted ice cream, and offer a choice of non-sundae toppings. Like Sour Patch Kids, and Mike and Ike's.
And I knew. I knew when I saw the whole set up, this wouldn't be good. B, he was fine. He'll eat any candy you put in front of him. My niece, she was fine. She was just happy to get ice cream at all. K? K had her own ideas about make "your own sundae", and Sour Patch kids on top of melted ice cream didn't cut it.
It's not that she's ungrateful. It's just that after waiting in a long line (which always=anxiety), and then discovering it wasn't what she expected (heck, it wasn't even what I expected), she couldn't handle it.
I sent her back to our table while I waited for B. I was trying to remove her from the sundae area, knowing sending her back alone was not a good idea, but I didn't have any other options. When we got back to the table, a minute after she did, I found her covered in ice cream.
She had punched her sundae and thrown her spoon across the room.
She was done. Yelling...crying...etc...
And, of course, every eye was on us. The woman at the table next to us actually made faces. It's one thing to stare, but to actively make faces? That is a whole other level. That is her really wanting to know how disgusted she is with my kid. It's mean.
And here is where I make a giant mistake.
I didn't leave right away.
B and his cousin were enjoying their ice cream, and I figured I could placate K with her iPad for a while. It almost seemed to work, but, internally, she was escalating. It had gotten busier and louder, and eventually, it came to a head. She announced she was leaving, it was too loud, and took off.
I had to quickly gather our stuff, and run. At these play spaces everyone gets a wrist band, so they know which kid belongs with which parent. You can't leave until they cut your wrist band off, and they see the parents and kids together.
K just wanted out. She tried to open the door, and started kicking it when she couldn't leave. We finally got our bracelets off, and she took off, again, slamming into a trash can on the way. This caused an employee to start yelling at K, stare at me, and make snarky little comments. It caused the other families sitting in that area, getting on their shoes, to stare as well. I wish I could say it doesn't bother me, but it does.
We ended up getting our shoes on in the parking lot. I wanted to cry. I was angry at the employee for making things worse. When she yelled at K, it just caused her to bolt again. I was angry at people for staring at us. I was angry for caring they had. I was upset that I couldn't help K, and knew the rest of the day was lost to this. I knew the anxiety and anger K felt was going to stay with us all night.
Mostly, though, I was angry at myself for not pulling the rip cord earlier. The day had been going really well up until that point. I got cocky. I thought things would be OK. Or, I talked myself into thinking things would be OK. I know better.
K will be 9 in two weeks. I should know better.
It can be a fine line between hoping for the best, and knowing when to jump ship. At least for me. Maybe 2013 will be the year I master these things.
One can only hope.