I am not one of those mothers who smiles sweetly at the wild-eyed newbies frantically rocking their selfish newborns and shrieks “enjoy the baby stage, just you wait until they’re TWO.”
No, I’m not one of those. I can’t stand those know-it-all mothers who just have to share (but more on them in a later post). Besides, I think newborns are the most difficult creatures known to woman.
But toddlers, ah Toddlers, are a very close second.
Ruthless, cunning; dear god they’re accountable to no one. If you’ve never eyeballed a Toddler on the Verge of a Naughty Breakdown, you’ve never viewed a true enemy. Once a Toddler has something in their sights, they will stop at nothing, absolutely NOTHING to get it.
Mothers have been broken. Supermarkets have been trashed. Dummies have been spat.
But fear not, I’ve got their number. Most toddlers will try the major full-blown TTT, but most will hang out the white nappy after a single incident* when they come up against their natural born enemy: The Prepared Mother. Pop these tips in your arsenal and get ready to return fire.
It’s a constant refrain here at the Difficult People Files. Whether the bad behaviour is coming from a smug shop assistant, an Olympic Parent or a juiced-up Mr 2 in aisle five… the strategy is the same: IGNORE THEM. Quietly (but in a voice loud enough to be heard over the screeching… this takes practice) say, “I don’t like the way you’re behaving, Mr 2. I’m going to head off and you can join me when you’re feeling quieter.”
Step over the little tyke if you have to (avoid stepping on fingers, but they can generally take some subtle foot-to-the-butt treatment as you go by) and hide yourself nearby. Monitor out of your peripheral vision, only looking at them directly if you are certain they can’t see you.
Note that while you are ignoring Mr 2 you will most probably have to ignore the tsk-tsking of general passersby as they judge you for being a cold, heartless mother or wonder what you’re doing hiding behind the biscuit display. IGNORE them. If you so much as make eye-contact with one of these Concerned Citizens, Mr 2 will have won.
2. Be patient
They don’t show this on Supernanny due to editing, but ignoring takes lots and lots of time.
Just keep waiting and Mr 2 will at some stage work out that you are not around for his grand performance, get even more hysterical, come looking for you, find you behind the biscuits, throw himself at you dramatically and cling like a demented barnacle to your disinterested skirt. Keep ignoring. Resist the urge to kick the hysterical little cling-on off like a used pair of undies. Mentally run through your shopping list. Mentally run through your ‘To Do’ list. Mentally run through your ‘Life Goals’** list. Remind yourself that no child ever died from crying***. Ignore Concerned Citizens.
3. Do the walk
Allow Mr 2 to exhaust himself sobbing. You will need him fairly droopy for this next stage. This is the ‘I’m really leaving’ stage. You have to walk as if you mean business – with confidence, purpose and vigour. You have to do this while dragging a screaming child along, clinging to the edge of your skirt.
Oh, make sure you always wear a non-elasticised skirt to the supermarket. That should have been Tip 1.
4. Bring out the big guns
“Mr 2, if you don’t calm down, I am happy to leave you right here. I don’t hang out with screaming children.”
“Do you want to stay here tonight? Well, calm down please.”
Start to walk away again. Repeat the threat of abandonment until tantrum has subsided (don’t panic, things are generally faster now they’re facing a night hanging out with the store packers).
5. Hug and praise
Once the tantrum has gone and you are left with a red, heaving sludge that used to be Mr 2, get down on the floor with him (he will absolutely be on the floor. Prone.) and say, “That’s a nice boy now, I’m so glad we’re friends again. Shall we keep going with the shopping?”
The answer to that question, by the way, is “No.” Do not keep going with the shopping. Move at lightening speed through the check-out and get the hell home.
Yes, it’s taken time, yes it was a long haul. You should feel battle weary, but smiley. Exhausted, but satisfied. For you, my friend, have won the war against the Toddler. Now, you can do anything.
* I mean it when I said that they will only ever have one using these tips. Each Tsunamis had exactly one. My only glitch was Cappers – she was never a screamer, she was a leg dropper (you know, suddenly the legs cannot possibly bear weight and the child is stiff as a board). She used to watch you disinterestedly as you walked and walked and walked away and eventually you were faced with having to start walking backwards lest you find yourself crossing roads. Really needy that one…
** If, of course, you are self-absorbed enough to have such a list. I will not judge.
*** This claim is not substantiated. It is possible that one or two healthy, loved children have cried themselves to death at some stage in history. Please do not forward sad children-dying-of-crying stories. I will not read them.
[Image via Revoluzzza’s amazing monster fest and used with permssion]