I sometimes sit down after a long day of ‘mammying,’ and sigh. You know the day’s I’m talking about. The days when you’ve dealt with a tsunami of tantrums from morning till dusk, over the tiniest of things – Sippy cups, shoes, not being allowed to climb in the oven and even at his displeasure over the laws of gravity. The days when you’ve had food or toys thrown at you, the days when you haven’t really talked to another grown up and you find yourself muttering ‘ta-ta’ when you hand over the cash at the till instead of ‘thank you.’
It’s those days where your toddler is on a mission out to test every single limit you try to set, the days where you feel your sanity has checked out and you’re left as this empty shell with bags under her eyes, unkempt hair and leggings encrusted with ready break, shouting at your toddler despite your best efforts not to. It’s on those days that I often sit down in the evening and find myself crying at my repeated failures as a mum and then laughing in an exhausted sort of way at some of the really stupid things I thought and said before I became a mum.
When I have kids they will be so well behaved.
I’m going to lay the ground rules early, so I’ll never lose my temper with them.
My kids will eat really healthily, no chocolate until they are at least in school.
Look at that child wailing on the ground, the poor mother, well my kids will never do that.
I was so good in restaurants when I was small, I’d sit quietly and play, so of course my child will be exactly the same!
I’m going to make my own playdoh and slime and do messy play everyday and go to ALL the baby and toddler activities in the area.
What a load of bullshit!
Let’s just say none of the above actually came close to happening, because pre-child me, clearly had no clue of what it is actually like to raise a tiny human. A tiny human, who as it turns out has a very determined mind of his own and following mammies stupid rose-tinted rules are not anywhere on his list of baby priorities.
I’d always envisioned that my toddler would be one of the ‘good ones,’ one of those babies who didn’t through absolute shit-fits and scream and roar when something didn’t go his way. But as I’ve found out, every child can do this and there are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ kids – it’s a myth. All kids can for various reasons find themselves overcome by their emotions and channel them the only way they know how, through meltdowns.
Before I became a mum, I would have looked at a toddler in supermarket lying on the ground kicking and screaming without having any real understanding as to what it was all about. Words like ‘bold’ or ‘the poor mother’ would have popped into my mind. I’m also quite sure I would have unwittingly looked over and the parent and starred for a moment
Now that I’ve gone through the looking glass so to speak, I can safely say I have a whole new perspective on things. I don’t tend to turn my head to have a good gawk these days – parents have enough to deal with, without damming looks and if I do happen to be in their eye-line I smile, the smile of a parent who knows exactly what they are going though. Its empathy and understanding now instead of pity.
Of course, that’s not to say this newfound understanding somehow means I have the answer for tantrums, as you can see I most certainly don’t, but what I do know is that it’s bloody tough to put up with them at home, let alone when you’re out and about. And while it’s nice that perfect strangers want to help, I really don’t need or want to hear your pearls of wisdom as I try and wrestle with my toddler as if we were in the middle of WWE smackdown.
Oh you should just ignore him, he’ll stop as soon as he gets no attention.
You should tell him not to do that, otherwise he’ll run rings around you!
You need to get down on his level and speak to him in toddler-ese (yes… they really did say toddler-ese!)
You just need to hug him through it.
Thanks, but no thanks.
Instead of looking and judging and giving your two cents, maybe just give the parent some space and understanding. Flash them a empathetic smile now and again and if you really feel like you have to say something, tell them they are doing an amazing job and that one day they’ll look back and laugh at all of this.