62 days down, 303 to go!
Dear Orange Rhino readers,
Given the response to last night’s blog I feel obliged to share with you a story B.C. (before challenge). What I am about to share is embarrassing (at least in my eyes) but I share it with you for two reasons: 1) to show you that I was indeed a yeller and 2) to show you the power of The Orange Rhino Challenge, how it has changed me.
Read tonight’s post and then yesterdays if you have the time Look at the difference! Taking this challenge has changed me in so many ways. Besides the fact that I am now uber cheesy, writing things like CHOOSE LOVE, I am actually a more positive, patient, calm, loving person. And I am like this in all aspects of my life, not just parenting. Because the adjustments I am making to keep from yelling are spilling over into the rest of my life, ie. yesterday’s story where I didn’t dwell, or yell, where I chose to not be angry because I knew it wouldn’t do a darn thing. That story would have had a different ending if it weren’t for The Orange Rhino Challenge. It would have looked more like this…
The Orange Rhino
Date: April 2011 (a year ago almost to the day!)
Every month for 7 months straight, #3 would get a 104+ fever that would last for 5-7 days. During the fever, he wouldn’t eat or drink due to mouth sores and severe lethargy. When the fever broke the dehydration and starvation would hit…along with a huge wave of cantankerous behavior and screaming fits out of the blue that lasted for up to an hour. And nothing would soothe him. Nothing. It was MISERABLE.
So here we are 7 months into #3’s mystery illness. I am about 7 months pregnant and my boys are 4 ½ year old, 3 years old, and 19 month old.
It’s a beautiful spring day. Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, sky is blue and a light breeze is blowing. It was the perfect day right out of a movie. We were having work done to our kitchen so we had to go out to lunch. Okay, I thought, what a great opportunity to try the new burger joint (I can’t even remember the name because I blocked it out.) Being wicked pregnant and all, the idea of a burger and fries sounded beyond delicious. Especially since I would have a babysitter in tow and could actually sit and enjoy said burger.
Or so I thought.
I purposely went out to eat early, before the crowds, just in case #3 had a meltdown since we were in a post fever week. I figured at 11:15 at a casual, almost McDonald’s type place we would be safe.
Boy was I wrong.
The minute, no I mean second, I opened the door #3 started one of his out of control, horrific, miserable tantrums. As #3 started up, and I tried to hold him and soothe him all while carrying a huge baby bump, my babysitter took #1 and #2 to the bathroom. And that’s when I felt them.
The two blue, almost silver eyes, no daggers, glaring at me from across the restaurant. They were so full of venom that I literally felt them tearing me apart. Judging me. Ridiculing me. Resenting me. Hating me. Hating my child.
I was trapped. Literally, and emotionally.
I couldn’t leave because my boys were in the bathroom. I couldn’t leave because I was so appalled and hurt by this man’s glare that I was paralyzed with sadness. Sadness from having a sick child who I hadn’t been able to help for months. A sick child who I literally just had 12 vials of blood taken that week to see what was wrong. To see if maybe something was seriously wrong. Like really really wrong.
I was trapped and I didn’t know what to do. I kept trying to soothe #3. We walked away from the man but I refused to leave. I refused to give him, the ONE man in the restaurant the satisfaction. But then I had enough. My pregnancy hormones got the best of me.
Me: “Excuse me, do you have a problem?
Jerk: “Yeah I do. Your kid. You. Take him outside.”
Me: “I can’t. I’m waiting for my family and our food. He’s hungry. He just needs to eat.”
Jerk: “Well, I’m trying to enjoy my lunch here. Take him elsewhere. You’re not even trying to stop him.”
I’m not even trying??? EXCUSE ME? Who the h*ll did he think he was? I was trying my damndest. What did he think I should be doing, yelling at my kid???? I am the FIRST to take my child out of a restaurant when they misbehave and are disruptive. But not here. This was a fast food, child friendly place. I had just as much right as he did to stay in there.
Oh did the tears of frustration and sadness start. And they FLOWED. At this point more people were coming in. The jerk’s eyes kept glaring but now were accompanied by a shake of the head. Look down, shake head, look up, Glare. Look down, share head, look up, Glare. Repeat.
My babysitter came out with my boys, saw me crying and asked what was wrong. Bawling (hello pregnancy hormones!) I said:
“That mean man is picking on me and #3. I can’t soothe him. Let’s try to eat and if that doesn’t work, we’re out of here. ”
Just as I said that I decided no bloody way was this man winning. I wanted to sit and enjoy my fries because they were ridiculous. I stood up, stuck my pregnant belly out, took #3 on my hip and marched right over to him. But this time it wasn’t just him vs me. We had an audience. Oh yeah, my immature side was ready to come out and put on a show.
He didn’t look up. Oh he knew what was coming.
“Excuse me.” I said, this time louder, more like a yell…
“Do you have kids?”
“Yes I do.”
“Well I feel sorry for them. I feel sorry that their dad has no heart. And no patience. I feel sorry for your wife that you would look at me, a pregnant mom STRUGGLING and working her ass off to help her child, and not offer help, but just judgment and criticism.”
Now the tears were really flowing. Thank you hormones for the dramatic gesture.
“And guess what. My son’s tantrum? It’s because he’s sick. Really sick. And we don’t know what’s wrong with him. In fact, he was just tested for Leukemia this week. Leukemia. Do you know what that is? Yeah that’s right. So how about that??? Next time you want to judge a mom, get all the facts.”
I turned around. Mouths were dropped. The place was quiet.
I was mortified.
Finally one of the cashiers stood up for me and brought me napkins and a water. I asked her for a take out bag. She readily obliged. I think everyone wanted me the heck out of there.
My kids looked at me.
“Mommy, why do we have to leave?”
“Because that jerk wasn’t being nice.”
“Mommy, what’s a jerk?”
Oi vey. Add that word to the list of things they shouldn’t know at their young ages.
I haven’t been back to that Burger Joint since. And I just remembered the name. SmashBurger. Well isn’t that appropriate. I now remember wanting to go over and smash his burger and say “Here’s your SmashBurger you a*shole.” But I think I did enough damage that day.
I can easily say that he deserved to be yelled at it, that it was okay. But it wasn’t. I could have been more “eloquent” in my message. And I can easily say that yelling made me feel better. But it only did for a moment. Because once I started yelling, I couldn’t stop. And by the time I did, I was embarrassed by my tirade. Really embarrassed. So embarrassed in fact that I won’t go back to that restaurant out of fear of having someone recognize me…1 year later.
So once again, yelling didn’t achieve anything, because that guy is probably still a jerk, because I scared my kids and simultaneously taught them how NOT to handle a tough situation. And because that restaurant probably still has unbelievable french fries that I am too afraid to go and enjoy. And I really like French fries. And more importantly, I really love my kids and don’t like to scare them.Oh, Orange Rhino Challenge, where were you when I needed you?! Just glad that I found you….
(P.S. My son is healthy now.Phew.)