Tantrums: Not Everyone is Judging You

My child having a tantrum on a town-centre bench, because she wanted to go home for lunch and we were going home for lunch…

You know when you’re out and about with your little darlings and one of them absolutely loses it. You’ve probably been dealing with this all day (or since their first birthday, terrible TWOS my arse) and you’re probably absolutely sick of it. You want to lie right down on the floor next to them, scream 20 decibels louder than them and flail about like a dying octopus. Except you don’t have the energy, so you grit your teeth and try to work out how to get them into the car without making it look like you’re snapping them in two as they alternate between making themselves completely rigid head to toe and trying to kick/punch/poke you.

And then you happen to catch a glance of someone giving you the look. The look you’re dreading. In a split second, your mind tries to work out if they’re judging you, and what the hell you’re going to do about it.

Let’s be honest, what you’re going to do is try and pretend you haven’t seen them while continuing with the task at hand: stopping the tantrum. You’re going to go home and think about their judgey look all night, and maybe into the next day. But soon enough you’ll forget about them and their furrowed brow will be history.

However, I have a theory to propose. And that theory is that, no matter what it feels like at the time, not everyone is judging you. Now, back when I was a teenager and probably into my early 20s (probably even when Alexandra was tiny before she learned to talk and be difficult about stuff for absolutely no reason), I probably did look at other people like WTF why can’t they control their child?

I can pretty much forgive myself and anyone else who hasn’t experienced the full force of a toddler tantrum that THEY have to sort out rather than getting to merrily stroll on by and live their day without having to deal with a mini meltdown about yoghurt or some other ridiculous shit. I also think some people whose children have way passed the tantrum age (at least 30+) have probably forgotten what it’s like so, while their judgement is unwarranted and they should pipe down, we can just ignore them.

However, there’s a whole section of society out there who either owns or has recently owned a toddler. That means there are a whole load of people who know exactly what you’re going through. Because anyone who says their toddler has never cried for the world’s most ridiculous reason is lying.

So, if you get ‘the look’ from someone in that category, I’m willing to bet the look is actually a transmission of the following thoughts: ‘ah no, I am SO glad that is not my child today/I’m so glad my kid is at nursery so I don’t have to deal with them today/I hope that kid stops wailing soon cause that woman looks like she’s had enough/shall I go and help? Would it look like I was being an interfering busybody?/Why the hell are toddlers so difficult?/Does she need a hug?’

I have thought all of those things multiple times when I’ve seen someone experiencing their toddler being a dick. And I’m willing to wager that other moms have thought the same things too. It’s so easy to think everyone is judging you when you’re having your worst day ever with the kids. And it’s easy to feel alone (especially if there’s more kids than adults and they’re all having a cry). But actually that look might be one of solidarity.

Harriet, Alexandra and Max x

They Know

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Children, especially small babies, are quite stupid. That much is obvious – they’ve just not been around on this planet long enough to learn how to make sensible decisions. Thus they do things you or I may consider idiotic – repeatedly banging their head against something hard, launching themselves face first off the sofa or bed on to the floor, throwing something and then crying because they want it back.

But actually, babies are also incredibly emotionally smart and that’s why no one (well hardly anyone) leaves their baby in a wicker basket on the steps of a church anymore with a little note asking the vicar to care for them. It’s because they’re super good at guilt-tripping you into liking them even when they’re being little shits (well that and the fact CCTV is everywhere these days, you’d never get away with it!).

They know when you’re just about to pick up your phone and start Googling which boarding schools might consider a 12.5 month old student (hopefully ones that don’t send them home for the holidays). They know when you lying on the floor crying is one of those times when you’ll get back up again in two minutes and act fine for the rest of the day, or when it’s going to be one of those times where you’ve actually had enough and you’re going to lie there sobbing for the whole day so they won’t get fed until dad comes home. They know when you’re eyeing up the car wondering how long it would take you to get to the remote Scottish Highlands, drop the baby off on a mountain summit and drive back on your own in SILENCE.

They know when you’ve absolutely reached the end of your patience (and when you’re just saying it). And that’s when BAM they turn on the charm offensive. Your kid can have been the snottiest, loudest, stroppiest, most annoying, unco-operative little thing in the world for the entire day. But the second your internal emotional dial switches from ‘this is not how I wanted today to go’ to ‘I’m actually leaving home’ they suddenly become an absolutely angel. Then it’s all kisses and cuddles (even though they never give them usually), giggles, coy smiles and maybe even showing off a new skill they’ve used. Within seconds you find yourself apologising to them for your behaviour and promising to be a better mommy in future.

Please tell me this isn’t just my child?

Harriet and Alexandra x