Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Screaming Preschoolers and Dismembered Dummies



A few weeks ago, a little boy, who was probably about three years old, had a major meltdown at the library. You had to be there to believe how bad it was. He carried on for what seemed like forever, but was probably only six or seven minutes. His mother either didn’t know how to deal with his tantrum or chose to ignore it.
After a few minutes of listening to his screaming and sobbing, other patrons began making snarky comments about the woman’s parenting skills. The security officer finally told her to take her son outside until he calmed down.
Witnessing that little boy’s meltdown dredged up a memory from my own childhood. Actually, it isn’t my memory; I was too young to remember. It’s a family story I had heard ever since I was in elementary school.
When I was about two years old, my aunt worked at a dry goods store. If my mother took me into the store on the day the clerks were changing the clothing displays, everyone on the sales floor held her (yes, her) breath. As soon as I spotted a mannequin without an arm or leg or, better yet, a head, I’d throw myself on the floor and commence screaming and sobbing. According to Mom, my histrionics were something that had to be seen to be believed.
I’m fairly certain that shoppers who witnessed my meltdown made snarky remarks about my mother’s parenting skills. And my aunt probably fled to the back office and hoped nobody realized we were related. Not a chance. We lived in a small town where everybody really did know everybody—well, mostly everybody.
One day, when I was in the middle of freaking out, the store owner emerged from his office and walked over to Mom. Trying to keep a straight face, he said, “Take her out of here. She’s ruining my business.”
Returning to the present day, I eventually learned that the little boy who freaked out at the library was upset because his mother had turned in a video he thought was his to keep. And, no, no one every figured out why I went ballistic over dismembered dummies. That forever will remain another personal unsolved mystery.

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