November 17, 2011

Trains and Tantrums

Imagine an entire exhibit hall filled with model trains of every size, color and era.  Imagine hundreds of feet of track surrounded by children of all ages.  I brought the boys to TrainFest in Wisconsin last weekend.  I thought they'd have a great time since they LOVE their GeoTrax as well as wooden trains. They had a good time but I think it would have been a lot better without the tantrums.
By the time we got in the car to start our journey, we were exhausted.  It was only 8:30 am.   Finding a huge pet mess that had ruined not just the carpet, but the subfloor brought out the worst in this mommy.  Yep, mine was the first tantrum of the day.  While I was coping with the mess, I heard H tell his brother, let's take all the couch cushions and make a jumpy house.  It was innocent mischief--but I pictured bumped heads, bruised bodies and yet another room in need of a major clean up.  Even though it was early or maybe because it was, I snapped.  I yelled at the boys-- telling them they were not allowed to play messy anymore because I had no one to help me clean up.  In spite of my loud tirade, they followed me into the living room where I was ripping up the ruined carpet.  This really scared them.  "Why, mommy?  WHYYY?"

We calmed down enough to get ourselves in the car and on the road.  I felt horribly guilty for my angry display and tried to make it up to the boys by being extra cheerful while we drove.  I played their favorite music and apologized about 100 times before we crossed the state line.
Henry and Liam enjoyed the trains.  They didn't quite understand that these weren't toys to play with but rather appreciate from several inches away.  Henry did not like the noise of the public address system and neither boy wanted to ride the motorized kiddie train.  They did, however, enjoy their soft pretzels and juice.
Some kids brought stepstools to help them see the displays; we brought Grandpa

I don't know if their interest in trains will last until they are old enough to make model trains a hobby like the exhibitors at TrainFest.  It takes quite an investment of money and time.  Still, it would be fun to have a garden train someday.   Those are my personal favorites.

After TrainFest, we tried to have an early dinner.  Liam fell asleep in the car on the way to the restaurant.  He had a huge tantrum upon waking.  It was ugly and loud.  I was embarrassed and didn't want him to disturb the other diners.  Finally I gave up the hope of ordering a meal, left the restaurant  in a huff and dined on fast food behind the wheel.  I gave Liam a piece of my mind about needing to act like a big boy but I doubt he heard me over his own shrieking.  Shortly thereafter, in a burst of expressiveness, Liam announced that his ear hurt.  Sure enough, his cold had settled in his ear and he was working on a fever.  Cue the major mommy guilt for the second time in one day.

I drove home (why does it seem to take twice as long in the dark?) replaying the day's events in my mind.  It had been filled with over the top reactions.  All of us needed a good night's sleep. 

Among the many things I learned in this one long day was how well and truly my children can forgive even the ugliest transgressions.  As the next day dawned, they still wanted to be with me.  They wanted me near as they did puzzles and Color Wonder pictures.  They wanted to read books with me.  They wanted me to sit on the couch and watch live action train videos.  After everything I'd put them through on Saturday, when Sunday came they still loved me.


  1. And they will always love you my friend.

    I'm so very sorry your day didn't go as well as you had hoped. I know how utterly disappointing it is to want so much for someone(s) to enjoy something and embrace what you want them to feel, see and do. And then they don't or simply can't. I think as mothers we have huge rose-colored glasses on about the experiences we want our children to have and then we are so very hurt when they don't experience it for whatever reason. Even when the reasons are so beyond our control ie the loudspeaker and not touching rule. But I know that they enjoyed themselves. And most importantly they had you AND their grandpa! with them! How great is that!

    I hope your week is winding down gracefully and that you're off a few days next week!

  2. Wow, I'm so sorry your big day turned out to be a bust! I'm sure I have similar tantrums in my (our!) future as well...can't wait (not). I have lost my temper with my little one too--more often than I'm willing to admit--and I am always amazed that not too much later, she's ready for hugs and kisses and cuddles again. I'm glad that for now, at least, she's too young to remember the unpleasant moments between us. Your boys are so precious, and they're so incredibly lucky to have you as their Mommy!!

  3. Tantrums seem to be in the air lately...& oh the mommy guilt. The good thing is that your boys will probably remember the great trains their awesome mom took them to see :)

  4. I think we've all had this kind of day in one form or another. Still, that doesn't rid us of the guilt we carry for the things we regret doing or saying later. I am a yeller, and often wonder what my kids will tell their therapist when the time comes. :) I'm sorry about the loss of carpeting and tantrums all around. Hang in there.

  5. Ugh. Haven't we all had days like that recently? The lack of sunlight and schedules messed up by the time change have had us all on edge in our house too. The good news is that once you have the tantrum and see how ridiculous you are, you can manage to step back and say "Hey - I'm overwhelmed. I need a break." And then give it to yourself. I think as SMCs we forget to give ourselves permission to take a break, and when we reach that crazy mommy tantrum point, we realize it. I hope you get a chance to recharge soon, and I have no doubt that those boys will remember their Trainfest adventure fondly. They don't even remember the mommy tantrums.

  6. Don't be so hard on yourself! Of course they wnat to spend time with you! Yes you snapped at them, and yes you probably shouldn't have (but yeah, hindsight..) but you are also this great mum of theirs. The one that apologized for her wrong doings. The one who was extra cheerful in the journey and who played their favourite music, the one who took them to this great exhibition. The one who loves them and cares about them which shows in whatever you do. So of course they love you and want to be just with you!