I see you there, lady, looking at me with sceptical eyes. All child-free and smartly dressed. You’ve just come out of your hotel room refreshed and rested and well-coifed (I’ve been desperate to use the word ‘coifed’. What a word.). It’s ten am and I bet you haven’t long since got up. Maybe you woke up early, at nine am, and you and your equally smart boyfriend had ‘early morning’ hotel sex. Then you had a nice shower and got ready at your leisure. You’ve even straightened your hair.
And yes, I heard you. You carefully walked around my two year old who is kindly having a huge temper tantrum at the top of the stairs, and then- loudly enough to make sure I heard it- muttered:
“People shouldn’t bring children to hotels if they can’t control them.”
Cheers for that babe. Funnily enough, someone from your family (I saw you come in yesterday) commented only an hour ago how beautifully behaved this very two year old was, at breakfast. She said how nicely she sat and ate her breakfast and how she thought it was adorable that she was saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to the waitress. But you’re not aware of that, of course. You’re judging my daughter based on the fact that she is currently stood at the top if a set of stairs in a hotel screaming blue murder, arching her back so I can’t carry her and turning such a bright red that one would assume she requires an exorcist.
The thing is, there’s two bits of your statement that are somewhat peeving.
The first is that children should have to pass some kind of ‘behaviour test’ before they should be permitted into hotels, or maybe even any public place. Or perhaps parents should have to take a ‘parenting test’? That despite my husband and I working hard all year, we should not consider taking our family away for a weekend in case it inconveniences people like you. But you know, I’ll forgive you that. You’re young, you’re child-free, you don’t know. You don’t realise that we have spent the entire weekend having to find twenty seven bloody toilets because one of our daughters need a wee, like, NOW. You don’t realise that whilst you were sleeping, we were being ‘DOGPIIILLLLEEEED’ at six thirty this morning, and that at eight thirty last night we were sat drinking wine and whispering to each other in the bathroom. You also don’t realise that it’s all totally worth it, on account of being able to get away from our house for a weekend, make a mess when someone else is being paid to clean it up, eat breakfast where we don’t have to do the dishes, and be away enjoying the company of our kids and showing them somewhere else other than the bloody park or the soft play centre. But I’ll forgive you that.
But the part of your statement that… well , it makes me feel a little bit stabby- is your implication that I can’t control my child, and the insinuation that perhaps someone else could have done it better. Perhaps you? I’ll tell you now: this particular child, my two year old, is very well behaved. Most of the time. She is super polite, very kind, very affectionate, and generally very agreeable.
But occasionally, just occasionally, she is completely unreasonable.
Perhaps, as you are implying, this is due to my ‘lack of control’. So prey tell, my judgey little friend, what should I have done differently? If you were her parent, how would you have prevented/ stopped her little outbursts?
I am all ears…
Tantrum number One (Monday)
Duration: 15 minutes.
Cause: I wouldn’t let her eat dog food.
Further info: Said child was given her breakfast, but decided she did not want to eat it. Instead preferred the look of the dog meat. That the dog was already eating. I offered her an alternative breakfast. I insisted, firmly and fairly, that she could not eat the dog food and should eat her own food as it was almost time to leave for pre-school. Much drama ensued.
End: I bundled her, still screaming, into her car seat. Some time on the way she found an old raisin and ate that, and seemingly forgot about the desired dog food.
Tantrum Two (Tuesday)
Where: The middle of the city centre.
Duration: 5 minutes.
Cause: I wouldn’t let her eat a crisp off the floor.
Further info: It wasn’t her crisp.
End: I bottled it, and promised to buy her crisps if she would please stop screaming.
Tantrum Three (Thursday)
Duration: At least 30 minutes. I lost all sense of time.
Cause: She wanted to wear her pineapple top.
Further Info: She doesn’t own a pineapple top. No-one does.
End: Honestly, I can’t remember. Maybe she passed out. Maybe I did.
Tantrum Four (Thursday again)
Where: Home, but about six hours later.
Duration: Another twenty minutes.
Cause: She remembered about the pineapple top.
Further info: We still have no pineapple top.
End: I laid down on the floor and pretended to be asleep. Or dead. She wandered off to find Daddy.
Sunday (Today Miss Judgey Pants)
Where: The hotel
Duration: So far, five minutes. It could continue for some time yet.
Cause: We don’t have her doll’s house with us.
Further info: We brought plenty of toys for the kids to play with, toys that they chose. The four foot doll’s house was not one of them. Once she said she needed the doll’s house, I distracted her, tried to play with other toys, even got her sister involved trying to change her mind, all to no avail.
End: We went swimming. She likes swimming.
Perhaps, Miss Judgeypants, you think that she’s a naughty child, as made evident form aforementioned tantrums. Perhaps you’ll argue that if she was better behaved then they wouldn’t have happened in the first place. But I don’t think so. I think she’s two. I think she has no understanding of why she can’t eat dog food. If the dog is eating then why shouldn’t she? Same goes for the grubby floor crisps. For some reason she has in her head that she owns a pineapple top and she couldn’t comprehend why on earth I was stopping her from wearing it. And she always has her toys near her usually, why wouldn’t her doll’s house be here? She doesn’t understand that we’re five hours away from her doll’s house and contrary to belief, my changing bag does not actually contain the entire contents of our house. Though my husband would argue otherwise.
I don’t think it makes me a bad mother that I could neither predict nor stop her little meltdowns. I’ve tried various different techniques. I followed Super Nanny’s advice, I tried ignoring them, telling her off, making threats, and when all else fails: bribery. Sometimes, she just goes. And all I can really do is try to reason with her and wait for the storm to pass. It neither proves nor disproves my ability as a parent. It certainly doesn’t make my daughter an asshole. Well, any more of an asshole that any other two year old.
One day, Miss Judgeypants, maybe you’ll have a two year old and they’ll have an almighty breakdown about the colour of their socks or the noise the microwave makes. Maybe you’ll remember me. Maybe you’ll feel a little bit guilty over trying to make me feel bad about my daughter.
If by some weird coincidence I’m there when you’re wrestling your own child, I won’t be smug. I’ll smile at you and welcome you to the club.
Thanks for reading! If you haven’t already, come and join us on my lovely Facebook page. We’re very friendly and rarely bite.