A tantrum in public is a WMD in a toddler’s arsenal in the battle of wills against mummy.
The other day My Little Toddler (MLT) and I were meeting friends at the South Bank. What is normally a jovial 15 minute bus ride became an arduous expedition: a groundhog of a journey spent explaining and apologising.
MLT was exhausted but refusing to nap. He had decided he wanted to walk to our destination. Except he couldn’t decide between being adamant that he wanted to walk or inconsolable if he wasn’t being carried. Oh and he didn’t want to walk-he wanted to run, especially across roads.
So MLT had to go in his pushchair and as it was getting late, we took the bus. The two outcomes the tired toddler didn’t want. You could almost hear him scanning through his weapons inventory and deciding to pull out the big guns.
1:34pm MLT put in the push chair and we get on to the bus.
1:34pm The crying started.
1:34pm and 3 seconds
“Why is your baby crying like that?”
It was a mother who we knew from playgroup. A mother of two toddlers. As I rolled off my explanation-“He hasn’t taken his nap and so he is exhausted but he has decided that he wants to walk to the river…”– I couldn’t help but wonder why a mother would ask such a stupid question. What answer was she expecting?
But it wasn’t the most ridiculous thing I heard. I was informed by a concerned pensioner that my child was really upset. As I rolled off my explanation-“He hasn’t taken his nap and so he is exhausted and he has decided that he wants to walk to the river…”– I couldn’t help but wonder if the kindly old gent really thought that I hadn’t realised that the child in my arms was in fits of (tantrum) tears.
I appreciated the understanding nods of support, passing smiles and brief distractions that passengers offered MLT and they fuelled my continued need to apologise and explain. But when a women came and sat next to me and practically tried to take my child out of my arms- I became the unapologetic mummy. I wonder, if I looked different (or even more similar to the her) would this complete stranger still have found it completely acceptable to infringe on my personal space uninvited?
A couple of minutes more passed and MLT settled. I had distracted him with a passing aeroplane and a remixed rendition of twinkle twinkle little star. Interestingly the women’s (who previously was so desperately eager to help) expression had changed. Rather than looking happy that MLT was now content she actually looked annoyed. I had not needed her help.
Toddlers throw tantrums over the most ridiculous things. But it doesn’t sound like they are crying about not being allowed to wash their hands in the unflushed toilet or not being allowed to touch the naked flame on the hob or run in the road. It sounds as if they are being maltreated by the evil overlord who is trying to soothe their cries… and I understand that. But they are just having a tantrum because that’s how toddlers express themselves. So if there is a clearly concerned parent/carer trying calm the child you need not worry that the child is in serious danger.
So please do not be offended if you see me and my toddler is throwing a tantrum and I don’t offer you an explanation as to why he is crying. He is a toddler, he is throwing a tantrum that’s just what they do.
*Supportive nod to all the parents of toddlers having tantrums in public places