In Her Words
I’m the One with the Screaming Kid
Moms’ tales of horror … er, howling
As I waited in the dank subway station for the train, I heard it.
It started off as a thin, mewling sound and then got stronger and louder. Several people on the train platform looked up in disdain, and sure enough, coming down the escalator in a deluxe stroller was a harried mom and her very unhappy toddler, screaming at the top of his lungs.
The howling continued for five agonizing minutes, until the train finally came. As I filed into the subway car, I saw the looks of relief of my fellow passengers. The screamer was in the car next to us.
Although I was secretly glad that the toddler wasn’t around to exercise his lungs during my commute home, I did feel for his mom. I mean, I’ve been there. Haven’t all moms?
Just recently I heard from an old friend whose in-laws decided it would be a peachy idea to organize a family trip to Mexico. My friend lives in New York, and her daughter is a year old. It was a four-hour plane ride, each way.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how my friend’s trip went.
“She screamed, and screamed and screamed some more,” she wrote of her daughter’s behavior on the plane. “Everyone hated me.”
Her story reminded me of another plane trip that I took years ago, long before I had my son. As our aircraft made its way from Minneapolis to San Diego, I found myself wedged into the window seat next to a huge woman with giant arms and who was – you guessed it – a mother with a screaming baby.
The child cried during the entire flight. At one point, the woman tried to feed the infant some airline food to pacify him. Bad move. He barfed up white liquid onto her shirt a few minutes later. It got on her seat and on the floor. For the rest of the trip, I had to breathe in the smell of sour milk.
What a stupid woman, my younger, arrogant, childless self thought. If it had been my child, I would have brought snacks from home, books, toys and a spare shirt, in the event he did puke up on me.
I would have been organized, I thought sniffily.
Uh-huh. The thing is, unless you’re a mom and you’ve suffered the humiliation of being the owner of a pint-size screaming machine, you have no clue what it’s like.
Last year, I made the mistake of taking my 2-year-old out for a haircut before dinner. Still traumatized by Cartoon Cuts and the fact that the Elmo video sputtered out before his haircut was done, Alex proceeded to throw an F5 tantrum when I brought him to the noodles place next door.
Everyone in the restaurant was looking at us. Fumbling through my diaper bag, I realized that I’d forgotten his utensils, his table toppers and his bib.
Suddenly I remembered the look of that woman on the plane, whose kid had barfed on her. I had the same look on my face.
Luckily, a mom with two kids sitting nearby came over to help me. Within minutes, Alex was happily eating his penne with tomato-sauce-covered fingers.
I smiled gratefully to the mom who’d come to my rescue.
“No problem,” she said. “I’ve been there. Haven’t we all?”
Have your own “screamingly bad” tale? Share it with us!
Jennifer Lubell is a health-care reporter in Washington, D.C., and mom to her own little screamer, Alex.