Friday, 30 January 2009

Shell shock

When I go shopping with Betty I normally keep her safely strapped in the pushchair for the duration. If she accompanies me by foot she is wayward and self-propelling, and it takes an age to get anything done. The last time I allowed her out of her pushchair she became obsessed with Abbey building society. It took several minutes to remove Betty from the queue for the mortgage adviser.

Yesterday afternoon we all went into town together. Tom announced that it wasn’t fair to keep Betty restrained in her pushchair when all she wanted to do was walk around with us. I tried to warn Tom but his mind was made up, and so I told him that if Betty was on the loose then she was his sole responsibility. Tom mumbled something about freedom and justice, unleashed our growling daughter, and then ran after her as she headed in the direction of the cathedral. I shouted down the street at a rapidly-disappearing Tom to let him know that I would be checking out the maternity range in Hennes and he should come and find me in an hour or so.

Twenty-two minutes later, from somewhere near the scarves and handbags, there was a very familiar-sounding commotion. ‘I said an hour,’ I told Tom. ‘Go and have another look around.’ In no mood for my excellent sense of humour, Tom quickly tried to give me an overview of what had happened while rummaging desperately in my bag for some snacks. Betty was being far too loud for Tom to make himself understood but the gist of it was, Tom was not going to be able to spend the next thirty-eight minutes with Betty at large.

I then announced that we must all go to the Early Learning Centre. So off we went, albeit slowly, and on arrival Betty was over the moon to find a toy shopping trolley. She spent 15 minutes pushing it around the shop and collecting everything off the shelves and placing it in the trolley. When it was time to leave I jokingly said to the shop assistant: ‘Expect a tantrum from my daughter when we try to leave the shop’. We both laughed light-heartedly, me because by ‘tantrum’ I meant a few crocodile tears which would quickly be forgotten once outside the shop and out of view of the trolley.

We left the shop and Betty had the MOTHER OF ALL TANTRUMS. I had never seen my sweet daughter behave in such a way. Tom picked her up around the ribs like she was some kind of giant insect, her arms and legs scrabbling wildly. But Betty was not to be so easily removed from her beloved trolley. Every few minutes she wriggled free of Tom’s grip and headed in a straight line back to the Early Learning Centre. Even at a distance of a couple of hundred metres, and around several bends, our homing pigeon Betty still headed back in the right direction. Then she started sitting down. That may not sound so bad but she sat with unbelievable determination. She is barely two stone in weight, but she somehow made herself as dense as a neutron star. Tom tried to move her along but nothing would shift her. He just had to wait for her to change position long enough to be able to grab her, then she would wrench herself free from his grip and the whole thing would start over again.

All the while, I was walking safely on the other side of the street, smiling sweetly and pretending that I wasn’t with them. Eventually I did go to Tom’s rescue and together we crammed our 45-degree-angle ramrod of a two-year-old girl back into her pushchair, threw her some snacks and jogged back to the car, trying to ignore the shouts of protest from below.

Poor Tom is still in shock. At supper-time last night he even announced that he wasn’t hungry. Betty’s first proper, full-on strop: I thanked god that it hadn’t happened without Tom being there, as I genuinely don’t think I would have had the physical or mental strength to deal with it.


Catherine Graham said...

Oh Gosh, how I remember those days! My oldest would not go past a branch of Currys without a performance as we HAD to go in to see the "Woverfins"...washing machines to you and me!

Anonymous said...

My hubby was exactly the same until I treated him to the 'Mia shopping experience'. Now he belives every goddam word I say about childcare and never ever questions me when I gently suggest he doesn't do that with the children.
Once bitten (well more like ravaged) twice shy!

Laura - Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy? said...

My husband goes through phases of not leaving the house with the children due to episodes like that.

I point out that I leave the house regardless of 'tantrumfear' and have been through so many that I don't even flinch. I am a master of folding my child into a car seat like an origami frog. Supernanny woud be proud.

Coding Mamma (Tasha) said...

It's dreadful when they have a big tantrum like that when you're out and about near roads and things. It's completely impossible to do the ignoring thing and they won't take any comfort or explanation.

And everyone stares at you, like you're some evil child-torturing monster. Except for other mums of toddlers, who offer their own weary smiles.

What gets me is the older women who give you dirty looks. Do you not remember what it was like? It's not like they've suddenly started having tantrums in the 21st century and they didn't exist in the 50s and 60s!

R fortunately seems to be at the tail-end of the tantrum phase. Her language skills are very good and usually she can be fairly quickly persuaded to explain what the problem, or even understand why she can't have X, Y or Z.

If that was the first major one, it's quite possible you're in for a fair few more.

One of things I found often helped, was to sit down on the floor with her, especially if we were out near a road. I'd sit down and hold enough that she couldn't escape and just try calming words, or not say anything. She did generally respond better to that than being picked up and carried. And, yes, I did sometimes get a wet bum and some more funny looks, but better that than screaming for half an hour or more (which I also had!)

A Confused Take That Fan said...

Phew. Not just us then. Mine had a full on tantrum in Mothercare when I wouldn't let her go on Bob the Builder again. She laid in the middle of the store face down crying and kicking her legs. We just laughed (me and my eldest daughter), said, 'C'mon you,' picked her up and squeezed her into the car seat. By child 2, you care less as you know it's just a phase, they see they don't get a reaction, so you hope they do it less. Who knows. I am just avoiding Mothercare and Bob for a while...just to make sure...

Sparx said...

I am SO sorry for laughing so hard at your pain... it's just that Charlie's had a few of these already. I loved the description of her being as heavy as a neutron star... how do they DO that? And then they go all floppy and slippery as a fish and one can't get a grip on them... they should teach classes on getting away from an attacker the toddler way.

My solution when he's having a sit down is to hook him under his knees and lift him up in his sitting position and if we're out without the buggy, I wrangle him into baby carrying position, one arm under his knees and his head near a boob... it sometimes calms him down... sometimes I get a foot in the ear! The worst tantrums happened at home and it was an hour of sitting with him, giving him milk, and turning on the TV to distract him while the tantrum ebbed and flowed until it was gone.

Iota said...

I love the description of the "45-degree-angle ramrod".

I just avoided this kind of shopping for years, and did all my shopping online or in the evenings when they were in bed. I'm a bit of a conflict avoider (and there was plenty of conflict in other situations anyway).

The word verification is "nonvin", which is probably a rather appropriate, if wry, statement on your current state.

Louise said...

It all sounds so familiar!! It is like a complete personality change and I am still useless at trying to deal with the tantrum moments. I have tried ignoring it but then you get older ladies shaking their head disapprovingly and tutting at me! Aghhhhh!
On a selfish note... it is nice to know that someone else is going through exactly the same thing! I will console myself with that next time it happens!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

I'm going to say nothing about this being a slippery slope and it all being downhill from here, because that would just be too honest. I'm sure it was minor blip.

I do hope Tom isn't going on a hunger will he cope with two?
my word verification is bulablu which is a little like hullabaloo, don't you think?

Iota said...

I've tagged you. Come on over to my place.

Anonymous said...

This is a great story, if a lot less fun to experience. I bet you're glad Tom witnessed it too - saving you from looking like a fibber as you tried to explain and from him secretly thinking it couldn't have been that bad!

well done, fingers crossed there aren't many more!

p.s. my word verification is scomptic... i can't relate it to your story at all! Not fair!

Anonymous said...

oh wow, I so know what you mean! My 19 month old is already a drama queen -if I'm holding her, she'll collapse on the floor screaming "dada! please! dada!!" if we're both there, she'll cry out for the dog (seriously) We know she's faking because in between screams she'll mumble other things that catch her attention ("wah! wah! oooooh kitty! wah! wah!!)

loving your blog as usual!

Anonymous said...