I'll admit this isn't particularly Christmassy. And some people might even get offended but I REALLY HOPE NOT.
I just need to get something off my chest.
So my daughter has entered a new stage of development which seems to involve flinging herself face down on the floor and screaming. This is sometimes accompanied by high kicks and arm flailing. It's probably hereditary. My Dad told me that I once bit down on a doorframe of a toyshop because I didn't want to leave. I wanted a toy and wouldn't go home even if it meant sacrificing my teeth. He had to try and drag me away gently. Then threaten me. In the end using brute force (I kept my teeth so HIGH FIVE TO YOU DAD). Anyway tantrums are terrible. Terrible and disorientating. Any other words I could use? No that's probably enough.
So the tantrum might start because my daughter doesn't want to get back in the buggy. Or she's seen something and can't have it. Or we have to leave somewhere and she'd rather stay. Afterwards I try to think it through step by step and examine what set it all off. The whole experience freaks me out. And when it happens in public I have to resort to emergency tactics. Of course on a good day my key tactic is to get down on her level, lower my voice, remain calm, empathise, count to ten etc. But no I'm lying I don't do any of that. I don't do any of that because it DOESN'T WORK.
The only thing that works is a pack of raisins.
These raisins are like gold dust. If we're out for a whole day then I need to have some other tools in my arsenal like dried fruit rolls or a couple of Malted Milks (because the word 'milk' is in there I see them as healthy). I usually wrestle her into the buggy, pleading with my voice, at the same time pushing the raisin/fruit roll/biscuit into her hand and tethering her down so she can't escape. On the first attempt she will go rigid and slide down onto the ground. I will then start the process, lifting her in, shoving a raisin into her squawking mouth, tethering and then repeating ad infinitum until harmony is restored. I can then wheel the tantrum away and wipe the sweat from my brow. A little part of me having died inside.
But it's not really the raisins that I'm interested in. Or the tantrums. These are normal parenting fare. You might even be a better parent than me and do all the empathising, talking calmly stuff that you're supposed to do. Good for you.
What I want to focus on instead is OLD LADIES. And let me start by saying that I have nothing against old ladies. I myself am a relatively old lady (in my forties). I have lots of relatives and friends that are old ladies.
But there is a certain type of old lady (usually well- heeled, quite posh) who seems to react particularly badly to a toddler tantrum. And the first time one of these old ladies tutted really loudly as she passed by (me tethering, sweating, pimping out raisins) I thought I must have been mistaken. Why would an old lady tut? Surely she'd been through the self-same stuff with her own kids and could empathise? Surely she could see what a struggle this was? She should have been slapping me on the back saying 'Hey Sister, Well done! You're battling one hell of a tantrum there and I like your style. Those raisins are going down a damned treat!' (This old lady was actually Aretha Franklin you see). But no there was that tut again, now accompanied by an undeniably dirty look. Then in a restaurant it happened again. Me sweating, shaking, trying to manhandle the equivalent of a twenty four pound turkey into the buggy and another old lady giving me grief. Except this time she didn't just tut. She sighed and rolled her eyes. And I had to take a deep breath to try and contain myself. What was the problem? Why the sighing? What was I doing wrong?
So I talked to a couple of old ladies (a friend and a relative) and they both said the same thing. Perhaps I was imagining it? Perhaps I was feeling so uncomfortable that I was getting paranoid? And old ladies made easy targets. There were lots of them everywhere and they had a tendency to look a bit grumpy without meaning too (I know what I'm talking about. I look grumpy most of the time and don't mean it- unless my child is having a tantrum). But interestingly they also said that whilst they liked the fact that there were so many child-friendly places out there nowadays, that they liked seeing children everywhere- in pubs, restaurants, shopping centres etc. they also found it a little annoying. That it was sometimes nice to sit somewhere and not have a screaming child next to you. Well I get that. I used to feel the same. Maybe that was it. Maybe they just wanted to spend the rest of their days without a screeching child in their face. But no it felt like there was something more going on. Something personal.
'Are you sure it isn't the raisins they disapprove of?' I asked, 'Am I bad parent? Is that what it is?' And both of these old ladies shook their heads and said of course not. It was nothing to do with my parenting skills. It was my imagination. I was tired. I needed to take a step back. Get some sleep. These were all projections of an overactive, over-exhausted brain. And maybe they were right. I can be a little paranoid at times.
So I guess I'm going to finish up with a few questions. Maybe you can help me. Do you use raisins to resolve tantrums? Or do you have another emergency tactic? And do old ladies tut at you when they walk past? Do they give you dirty looks and roll their eyes? And what's that all about?
Do you know?