Target Tantrums


Earlier this year Norah had her first major toddler tantrum at a public park. I wrote about it here, in Terrible Twos – Norah Style. I thought that was bad. Until I experienced our first toddler tantrum at a public store – enclosed, with echoes and shopping carts, where strangers abound.

If you’ve ever read this blog around the holidays, you know my infatuation with the holiday assorted Trader Jo Jos, at where else? Trader Joe’s. I’m a little surprised I haven’t been paid for my incredible (and FREE) advertising, but I guess I’m not Ellen, and to be honest, they move fast anyway; that’s just how delicious they really are.

So, although the nearest TJ’s is a little over 30 minutes away, I decide to make the trek because of course, the cookies. Need I say more?

I remember we need wrapping paper so decide on a whim to go to Target first. That way, the kids can walk around a little and stretch their legs. I knew they would want to see the toys and that would be okay. We’ve done the toy thing a few times in the past couple months and they usually leave with nothing, although sometimes with something from the dollar section. They know they are “waiting for Santa Claus.”

In fact, Miles and Norah continued to repeat this phrase throughout the toy section, which many shoppers (soon to be victims) thought was cute.

Norah: “Look at the baby!”

Miles: “We have to wait for Santa Claus.”

Miles: “I wanna T-Rex like this one!”

Norah: “We have to wait for Santa Claus.”

You get the gist.

Unfortunately, that T-Rex had quite the hold on little Miles. I could tell pretty fast it was going to be hard to let go, but I had my faith in him. It would be okay. He could do it. The other day in Publix he wanted to gum. I said no. He cried through the checkout line but then got over it. I handled that, now I can handle this, and so can he.


It started with tears, following quickly with blood-curdling screams. I begin walking away from the toy section with Norah, looking back at him of course, and hoping he follows. I tell the people looking at us that “he’s not mine – just this little good girl here” but they don’t get the joke, and in the 10 seconds of me walking a different direction 5 people are surrounding him thinking he’s lost. So I say “Gig is up – apparently he IS mine. Whoops!” and no one thought that was funny, either.

See, I try to find the humor in these situations.

I pick him up, thrust him into the cart, but he’s jerking recklessly (and still screaming), doing anything to get out of my arms. He knows how to detach the cart belt, too. Knowing that wouldn’t work, I pin his body down on top of our goods and we roll to the checkout, his body half on and half off.

From there I set him down nearby and talk very stern, saying it is NOT OKAY TO SCREAM LIKE THIS and YOU ARE IN TIME OUT and CUT IT OUT.

I try to put our items on the belt but then a little old lady gets hit with a shoe (I wish I was joking) and another shoe ends up hitting our cashier. He has thrown his shoes and socks and he is full-fledged, spread eagle on the ground. And the screaming ensues.

I apologize profusely and walk back over to him. This is quite the production, and our audience is growing. At this point one of the workers starts unloading our things on the moving bed (because of course I have more than wrapping paper – I’m at Target for goodness sakes – the store sucks you in.)

As I try to move him from the ground he is screaming “NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO” over and over and over. I have never in his almost 3 years seen him like this. Ever. I pick him up more forcefully and he hits me, hard.

It gets quiet. He looks at me wide-eyed. Our audience waits, wondering what I’ll do. So I just give in and give him the toy. It was all too much.

Just kidding – NO WAY! What did I do? I yanked those pants down, rounded the corner, and popped that butt hard. More than once. This behavior was absolutely unacceptable.

In Chicago, I would fear a dreaded DCFS call.We may not have snow for Christmas,  but I will say one thing we got going for us – I don’t think anyone is afraid of a little spank in the South.

If our no-gum-at-Publix experience was a high school One Act show, this had to be a Broadway musical, a Hamilton at it’s finest. At this point Norah is also crying because when one of them cries too hard the other one usually starts to cry as well. Twin thing?

I put him in the cart and buckle the belt, knowing he won’t try to get out because he is sensing defeat. I announce to our viewers that I’m sorry for the racket, that we will have to continue to hear the awful screams until I leave because the child wants a toy and he isn’t going to get one.

The following responses were a pleasant surprise, super helpful for this tired Mama. “Don’t give in!” and, “You’re handling it well!” and, “The worst is when they give ‘em what they want after the tantrum– don’t do it! You got this.”

I suddenly had a support group of all ages cheering me on.

On the way to Trader Joe’s (It was the last thing I wanted to do, but now I needed the cookies more than ever) Norah told Miles that Santa and Jesus were mad that he was bad.

Miles replied with, “Sorry Santa, sorry Jesus.” We need to work on our priorities; OBVS Jesus comes first.

“What about Mommy?” I asked.

“Sorry, Mama, “he said.

Didn’t make it all better, but certainly helped. Thankfully today was a new day, and it makes me appreciate the new mercies we get everyday from our heavenly Father. As parents, we want to do our best to model that to our children, even when it’s hard, even when we feel like holding a grudge.

Merry Christmas! Here’s to little tantrums (from both kids AND adults) and lots of LOVE as we celebrate the wonderful gift of our Savior. 

Here’s our pic when I said “Smile for the camera.” Notice the absence of shoes and socks.



2 responses »

  1. Oh my goodness Rachel…You are WOMAN hear your roar! Excellent job girlfriend!! Makes me feel so much better about kicking holes in Ashley’s doors all those years ago!


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