In case you were thinking that Ivy is just too precious and cute for words, I have a story for you. After this story, maybe one of you can take her home with you. Maybe you can take Eliza, too!
It started after dinner, when Eliza was crying and whining and complaining and feeling generally rotten and making sure that everyone around her knew it. As her parent, it takes a certain amount of fortitude not to succumb during these frequent bouts of Utter Unpleasantness, and I’ve found that it’s best to Keep Busy. So I was clearing the table.
At that point, Ivy told me she was finished with dinner. "Are you sure?" I asked her. Done, she said. Absolutely.
I was ready to do the dishes, so Ivy’s remaining food scraps went into the garbage. And this was evidently the only thing standing between a Nice Evening and Total For-Sure Calamity.
"I WANT MY FOOD!" Ivy yelled. "I WANT MY FOOD!!!"
At first I tried to reason with her. It was a hundred degrees, so anyone might be a little tetchy under the circumstances. I suggested that she take her food scraps back out of the garbage and eat them, if she was still hungry. But reason failed. She kept crying. I went to do the dishes and hoped the storm would soon blow over.
Eliza had stopped whining and moaning and throwing herself off her chair in order to watch Ivy with interest. "Oh Ivy, I wanted to have a fun time tonight!” she said, A Voice of Sudden Reason. (Also, I was pretty certain she was lying. But maybe she spoke Real Truth instead.) “Can you stop crying?"
But Ivy was busy, screaming.
She was still yelling about her food after I’d washed the last dish, ten minutes later, and I could feel the disapproving eyes of a retired couple who were relaxing in their formerly-quiet campsite across the way.
I knew Ivy would feel better with some cool water, so: a swim! Let's go to the pond!! Let’s go have fun, Girls!
"BUT I WANT MY FOOOOOOD!" yelled Ivy.
"Ivy, this is your last chance." I dug her food - a couple of corn chips and the gristle from her steak - out of the garbage. "Take it, eat it, or I'm throwing it into the dumpster.”
"But I don't want to eat it," Ivy explained in normal tones. "I want to go to pond!"
"Okay, lets go then!" I said brightly, hopefully; maybe the storm had passed.
But no. Halfway to the pond, where several people sat in the shade, enjoying the sunset, Ivy began to holler again. It was as if her rationality switch got flipped…and then snapped right off.
"I WANT MY FOOD I WANT MY FOOD!!" she yelled, for all the world and CPS to hear. "GIVE ME MY FOOD GIVE ME MY FOOD!"
She continued, alternating her words but not her volume. A dip in the pond was beginning to appear unlikely. And if there is anything more infuriating for a mother (me!!) who deals with anorexic children and majorly picky eaters on a daily basis - apart from the insane frustration of thrice-daily spoonfeeding sessions - it is for my child to scream loudly and clearly and publicly, as if I hadn’t FUCKING TRIED TO FEED HER to begin with.
But that's what Ivy had been doing for nearly twenty minutes now. “GIVE ME MY FOOD GIVE ME MY FOOD! I WANT MY FOOD I WANT MY FOOD!!!!!!" she yelled, over and over again.
"Ivy, do you want to go in the pond? Would you like a little swim? You're tired and sweaty - lets swim!"
Uh uh. "I WANT MY FOOD I WANT MY FOOD!"
By this point I knew I had better leave the beach so that I could preserve the teensy possibility that the people watching me didn’t think I was the world’s worst mother, and I could additionally avoid the temptation to throw my toddler into the pond.
"Ivy, would you shut the fuck up?" I whispered through gritted teeth, instead. "NOBODY wants to hear a baby screaming, and I would prefer that nobody called the police this evening!”
This had no effect except (and this was important) to vent my mounting fury enough to prevent me from doing something I would certainly regret later.
"I WANT MY FOOD I WANT MY FOOD!" screamed Ivy, livid, as i carried her back to the camper.
But it was when we got back that she really got going.
"I WANT MY BATHING SUIT! I WANT MY DRESS ACTUALLY!" she screeched, as I peeled off her suit. She then rotated through about ten other phrases for the next seventy five minutes of further screaming. She made very little sense: "I WANT MY WEDDING SHIRT! I WANT MY OTHER CINNAMON STICK! GET MY DRESS AND MY CINNAMON STICK! I WANT MY OTHER BAGGIE THING! I WANT TO GO OUTSIDE! DON'T TAKE THAT! DON’T BRING ME IN HERE!! DON'T PUT ME UP THERE! I WANT MY OTHER CINNAMON STICK! PUT ON MY DRESS AND MY SHIRT! NO I DON'T LIKE THAT SHIRT I WILL TAKE IT OFF!!!" She was actually foaming at the mouth.
After she took aim, screamed loudly, and hit me, I put her onto the floor and waited.
Eventually, finally, after an hour and a half of solid Tantrum Torture, she stopped. Which allowed Eliza to begin whining again.
Praise the lord, both girls are now almost asleep. And I have written this down, just…because it was better than hitting my children. And because someday, when Ivy and Eliza are all grown up and Well Adjusted, and they start making Condescending Oh-How-Could-You-Mother comments, I will remind them of this evening, and I won’t feel bad at ALL about the drool they will have to wipe off my chin.