Taming of the Shrew / by Susie Lubell

Yesterday afternoon was a zinger. Some afternoons just suck you know? No matter what I do. It took my daughter all of three seconds in the car after preschool to start shrieking about wanting to eat her brother's leftover apple sauce. Huh? And she does this with such a sense of entitlement. It's not even your freaking sauce cha cha. I just couldn't get her to stop crying about the goddamn apple sauce no matter what I said so I opened all the windows in the car and turned up the radio. After another five seconds she just stared out the window and let her curls blow all around her face. I'll have to remember that trick for tomorrow.

It got worse the minute we got home. I made them a quick dinner and then wanted to take them across the street to the park. I know, how awful of me. We get there and immediately they start fighting over the little springy seahorse thing and somehow my daughter gets knocked on the head with a forward-thrusting seahorse. No doubt that hurt. So I console her by offering the swing as the best available alternative. She relents but then while on the swing she wants to take her left shoe and sock off. Meanwhile my son wants to move on to the jungle gyms (it's an elementary school) but she won't budge so we pretend to leave and she is hanging there like Shoeless Joe Jackson staring at us as we walk farther and farther away. We're halfway to the other side of the blacktop when it occurs to me she doesn't give a rat's ass if we walk all the way to Canada. This isn't working.

So I go back and offer to get her out of the swing again and go play. I'm being playful and patient. I'm using my squealy toddler voice. She'll have none of it. So I grab her sideways around the belly and bring her home squawking and shoeless. And then began the Mother Of All Tantrums. She puts my son to shame actually. She's a force of nature. She's 25 pounds of combustible material. At one point after I had put her in the corner for the thirtieth time (time-outs don't work - maybe for preschool teachers or super nanny, but not for actual parents) I was literally palming her head out in front of me as she was trying to rush forward with swinging arms and clenched fists. My brothers used to do that to me as a kid and it drove me nuts. Wait, I'm seeing some parallels. Anyway, I finally just get on the floor with her and hold her while she is sobbing and we slowly move into her room and onto her bed. It took about ten minutes of my rubbing her feet (more on this for a later posting) for her to calm down. And when we could all breathe again without emitting smoke from our nostrils, it was time for her bath and another thirty minutes of sobbing. And at that moment I had a clear vision of those Calgon commercials we saw as kids. You know the ones: Calgon, take me away. And it's this lovely woman in her thirties lying in a tub of bubbles. I bet that stuff flew off the shelves.