Finally the weather is starting to get a little nicer. Saturday was the first time I’d seen blue skies AND clean air in so long in Shanghai and that put me right in the mood to have a little family outing. I’ve been wanting to go to Painters’ Street in Xujiahui ever since I found out about it. I have zero wall space in my house, but I love art and was thinking of maybe cramming some sort of creative piece onto a wall in the playroom. So after swimming lessons we threw the kids in the car to Puxi.
Feeling like a super-mom because not only did we make great time out of the house, we had everything we needed without forgetting anything: stroller - check! Refreshments - check! Diaper bag - check! Snack - double check!
It took about 30 minutes to drive to Painters’ Street, which I have to admit, was a little unimpressive at the entrance. But, once we got both kids out of the car I was excited to see some art and was already chuckling at the first piece which was a mural of the alphabet done in Simpsons’ characters.
Before stepping into our first gallery, Kai asked for his snack; Tupperware of blueberries we had brought along. I opened up the container to let him have a handful to which he exclaimed: “No! I want to hold the blueberries!”
Me: “Kai, if you hold the box you’ll spill it.”
Kai: “I want to hold it!”
Me: “Okay hold it.”
*almost spills entire contents of two packages of blueberries on the ground”
Husband: “Don’t let him hold it.
Me: “Okay I’ll hold it and you just take some.”
Kai: “I WANT TO HOLD IT!!!!”
And then it happened: in the middle of Painters’ Street, Kai let loose a tantrum of the likes he hasn't done in such a long time - and in public nonetheless. He is crying his face off, hopping up and down, and screaming sharp screeches like you would hear from the spawn of if an owl mated with a Velociraptor. Then Oren, following suit and unhappy with HIM not getting to hold the blueberry container either, started his own “I’m gonna scream and cry because this is what we’re doing right now!”-fit.
I’m not gonna pretend that this hasn't happened to us before. I mean, which parents have never gone through an all out tantrum from their 2-4-year-old? Or even their 15-year-old; let’s be honest. And if you have that one friend that says “Oh, my kid neeeever throws tantrums like that!” then ditch that friend cause she is a liar and probably snoops in your medicine cabinet when she comes over for tea.
Nothing we could do or say was making Kai and Oren stop. People started coming out of their stores to see why the foreigner kids were crying and why their crazy parents couldn’t get them under control. At one point we even had two ladies coming up to us telling us to “just give them what they want.” or “don’t let them cry!” and of course “Awww little boys don’t cry!”
This is also not our first rodeo with being the centre of attention and judgment during a public tantrum. When we first arrived in Shanghai we took a walk along the Bund which quickly turned into a scream and picture taking fest where we were surrounded by about 15 locals all laughing at our distress and a screaming struggling 2-year-old.
In a grand total of 12 minutes on Painters’ Street we were back in the car on our way back home.
I completely recognize that kids having tantrums is normal. And setting boundaries, creating limits, and following through on punishments like actually turning the car around from Disneyland and going home is very important. But it will never make sense to me that if parents are having a hard time why the spectacle in itself has to then turn into a three-ring circus for everyone to enjoy and participate in?
Instead of standing and staring, offer me a cup of tea…or even better a shot of baijiu because that is what I as a parent really need to make it though that moment. Or even better: look away because honestly there is nothing to see here.
I have to admit that ever since being the center of attention whenever my kids throw a tantrum, the minute I see a local baby wailing at the top of its lungs I feel a little schadenfreude for the parents… but I resist the urge to take a picture. For now.