Parenting a 2-Year-Old in NYC

There are some things about raising children in the city that I find particularly irritating. We have to load up and walk blocks to get outdoor play. We have to get on the bus or subway to get anywhere outside of the neighborhood and take the stupid stroller with us on such excursions. Everything costs fifty times more than it should, especially school/camp/classes. There are things. But one that really gets me is the stares from people (ahem, older women) when children misbehave. 

This morning Declan and I dropped Brady off at school and headed to Starbucks like we do most mornings. We like to sit for fifteen minutes or so while I sip my coffee and he eats a muffin or another snack and we often chat with other people who have just dropped their kids off at school. This morning Declan was having none of it. He wanted to sit…but ONLY in seats that were already occupied. I tried to explain that we could sit in any of the several unoccupied seats which prompted him to scream his bloody head off like a wild animal. 

I packed him into the stroller and started the 3.5 block walk home. He continued to howl and rock from side to side screaming that he wanted to sit down and NOT go home! Tears streamed down his face. He waved Brady’s green Crocs (which he, of course, had to hold) over his head. He kicked the stroller blanket down until it was dragging on the ground. I called my mother and talked on the phone like nothing was happening to keep myself from screaming at him on the sidewalk.

I stared straight ahead and walked as quickly as I could. But I couldn’t help but notice the heads turning in our direction, the whispering, the raising of hands to mouths in shock at the behavior of this horrible child. Because no 2-year-old in the history of time has ever thrown a fit before and no mother has ever ignored the tantrum not wanting to reinforce the behavior and hoping that it would subside. Certainly these women never had children of their own and, if they did, they NEVER acted up and, if they did, it was in the privacy of their own homes or easily diffused by expert mothering. 

I pushed through, ignored the reactions of the people around me, and made it to our building where the doormen laughed a little and gave me sympathetic looks. I know that some of those people were probably sympathizing. I know that some of it was my own feelings about his behavior being projected onto other people. I know I shouldn’t let it get to me, but somehow it still does. At least this time no one asked me if he was ok. 

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Post-horrific, screaming, sobbing, flailing fit Declan.

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15 responses

  1. Sigh…allow me to offer after-the-fact sympathy. What is wrong with people (and I agree it’s generally older women) that they can’t remember having been there themselves? Because I will never believe that they never experienced a child tantrum when their kids were little.
    -Amy

  2. Older women have completely forgotten. Completely! Or they block out the annoying memories to focus on the good….my mom included. She doesn’t balk at me but waves off all of my son’s naughty behavior because he has her wrapped around her finger. I’ve gotten the looks, the “you’re being too harsh, just (insert command like hold him/her, hug him/her, kiss him/her, talk to him/her, etc) It is so irritating. You are awesome, Screw the people who give you dirty looks. And kudos to you for raising your kids in the city. I know there must be a million benefits, but the negatives sound like a pain too.

      • I miss living in a big city. I’ve never been to NYC but have always wanted to go! Maybe one day and we can meet up…even take a yoga class together, how fun! We have actually talked about it for maybe around Thanksgiving for the parade and all that jazz.
        I miss good food and things to do, it can get boring around here with kids on rainy days. Thank goodness we have the beach otherwise we’d all go stir crazy 😉

        • Oh yes! Come to NYC! The past two years were the first in 14 years that I didn’t go to the parade. It’s tough getting over there and then getting back in time to get ready for Thanksgiving and getting up to my in-laws. But I LOVE it! Love the parade. So much! Luckily the beach isn’t far here and we plan to spend a lot of time there this summer.

  3. It is very frustrating when people judge like that, but it’s not just the older women, the younger women can be just as bad and my pet peeve is when someone who doesn’t have children of their own so cannot possibly understand how hard it can be sometimes to be a parent makes a snide remark. 😁

  4. Man that is one of the hardest things. Mine are older now but I still cringe to remember those judging eyes. It is unfortunate that so many human beings (and yes, at least in our culture at this time, especially older women) feel privileged to take this judgmental critical eye to parents dealing with normal kid tantrums. Thank goodness you managed to keep your calm.

    • I wish I didn’t take it to heart at all, but it’s so difficult. I don’t always keep my calm. Yesterday was a good day. Plus I knew my mother-in-law was coming to take the tantrum-y toddler off my hands, which helps.

      • Ha! Yes that does help. As does remembering, you are right: sticking to your guns and just ignoring the outburst is the best. But wow yeah hard sometimes.

  5. Sometimes I think it really does make a difference how we perceive the behaviour. The other day my 3yo was acting up throwing a mini-fit but I was in a good mood, so the first person that looked around I just sort of grinned and rolled my eyes and they grinned back. Other times I’ve been really fed up and that’s when I tend to get the disapproving looks – people basically taking a cue from my own response. My husband does it, too – he’s always madder at the kids when I’m fed up.

    • Yes, absolutely. I do think that my perception of the situation plays a big part. Except for those days when people walk up to me and outright tell me I’m doing a bad job. Luckily, this was not one of those days.

  6. Toddlers!! I swear they’re trying to drive me to insanity. I no longer even glance at other people’s children throwing tantrums, because what I need/want most from the rest of the world is for them to ignore my screaming tots when I’m trying to send the message that the behavior isn’t going get them attention. We’ve had a rough rash of tantrums lately when out. I constantly feel like a ad for SuperNanny (the pre-nanny shots where everyone is out of control and the parents just look like they’re going to cry).

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