Look at this face.
She’s a picture of innocence, right? Pure sweetness and light. How could that little girl be anything but a delight?
That’s what I thought too. I told myself I’d never be blind to my daughter’s traits; positive or negative. I’d never be one of those parents who looks at tantrumming toddlers and thinks “I’m glad my child doesn’t do that”.
That was a big fat freakin’ lie, because I’ve found myself doing exactly that. I’ve been that smug mum in the supermarket.
Pride comes before a fall, and the other day, we had the fall. It started when we tried to leave Starbucks. I’m not saying my kid has a caffeine addiction, but she really doesn’t like leaving that place. It might have more to do with the fact that one of our best friends – her Uncle Billy – works there, and she was enjoying cuddles until he had to go and work and we left. She complained at first, but she calmed down fairly quickly.
She was still complaining now and then as we walked around the shops, but the real downfall? The supermarket.
Is there anything worse than a two year old having a screaming tantrum in the middle of Tesco on a hot Saturday afternoon? If there is, I’m yet to find it.
Picture the scene. Everyone is shopping for their barbecue supplies. They’re already feeling hot and bothered because it’s been so bloody hot and muggy for the last week. No-one wants to be shopping on a Saturday afternoon, but here they are. It’s unpleasant, and they want to get out of there as quickly as possible. Then they hear:
DADDY NO! IT’S MOMMY’S TURN!
MOMMY! IT’S CELYN’S TURN! GO AWAY!
Screams echo through the crowded supermarket; drowning out the muzak, attracting the attention of everyone within a three-aisle radius. Elderly ladies glare and tut, middle-aged men grabbing charcoal look disgruntled, another mum smirks and beams down at her sweetly-sleeping newborn. I know what she’s thinking.
“My child will never have such a public tantrum”.
The heinous crime we committed?
We put her in a trolley, to try and stop her from running off. She pleaded for a cuddle. We had a cuddle, and within seconds she’s saying “Walk. Walk. Walk”. Put her down to walk? She runs off again. Eventually it’s easier to just stick her in the trolley and share everyone else’s disgruntled expression, pretending you’re oblivious to the tiny screeching banshee you’ve wrestled into the straps just seconds earlier.
Oh, and we haven’t brought enough snacks.
And we didn’t let her go upstairs and sniff every single candle in the shop.
And the day ends in “y”. I don’t know, there could be any number of reasons why this child has transformed herself into some kind of supersonic jet engine, screeching her way around Tesco.
I’ve been that mum, smiling down at my peacefully-sleeping newborn. No doubt one day I’ll be that tutting old lady. I’ll unintentionally make the stressed, struggling mum of a wilful toddler feel like crap.
But that mum with a sleeping newborn will be in my position in two years’ time. That tutting old lady has seen her fair share of toddler tantrums, and she probably thinks about how differently she coped with it in her day – but I’m sure there were people around to make her feel crap about her methods too.
Sometimes experiences like mine can make it hard to believe in the so-called sisterhood of motherhood. Actually, I think it just reinforces that we’re all in this together. As I wrestle my shrieking tiny person into a shopping trolley in the hope that just once I can go and get some chocolate buttons (for me, not her) without it descending into a full-on toddler breakdown, the old lady serves as a welcome reminder that I’m not the first – and the blissfully oblivious newborn mum is a reassurance that I won’t be the last.