Ah them! We all know one, right? A quick virtual show of hands if:
- You’ve ever had the feeling you’re being watched and judged by other parents when you’re out and about with your children?
- You’ve caught another parent looking at you in horror when your child is acting up or having a tantrum or just one of those days?
- Anyone has ever offered you their unsolicited, unwelcome, uninvited “advice”?
- You’ve ever felt like other parents just don’t understand the daily struggle you have with your child; the tantrums, the refusal to do simple things, the naughtiness?
- You’re fed up of seeing those perfect parents flaunt their perfected routines, with their perfectly behaved children?
I’m going to guess there are a lot of hands up; and for that, I whole heartedly apologise.
I’m sorry for every tut-tut, dagger or harsh words that you’ve ever encountered because (until 2017) I was one of those perfect parents.
Ok, I didn’t actively pass judgement on other parents ‘publicly’, nor have I ever personally said anything to other parents, especially strangers. But I thought it, I felt it, I wanted to say it and I probably expressed it on my not so subtle face.
My first born was the “perfect” baby, not even just to us, her biased first-time parents; everyone would comment on how well behaved, sociable and loving she was. She would sleep at night, she napped, weaning was a breeze and she ate anything. She was never poorly, she rarely cried, she never had tantrums and as she got older, she would always do as she was asked. She integrated well with other children, she shared, she had impeccable manners, she was never overly clingy, she was happy to be with other adults, the list goes on. Even now at almost 8 years old, she is all the above and more.
We were living in our own perfect little bubble.
I’d go to the shops with my perfect daughter, and I’d see children having the worst tantrums. They would be lying on the floor, back arched, kicking and screaming, all because they didn’t want to put a hat on, for example. I’d walk past and think “…how on earth do you let a child behave in that way. Why haven’t you nipped that in the bud? Can’t you do something to show them that’s not an appropriate reaction or behaviour?”
My best friend’s little girl would refuse to say sorry if she ever hurt anyone or acted badly. No matter how much she tried to make her apologise, she outright refused. I would think “…really? Are you going to tolerate this? Make her say sorry!”
I used to worry about my cousin who didn’t like to leave the house for fear of embarrassment because her son would cry at the sight of any human other than his parents and grandparents. I say cry, what I really mean is a full-on emotional breakdown if someone so much as smiled as they passed. The screaming so bad they make themselves sick type of crying, that kind. I used to think “…just go out, why are you staying in the house and in hiding, this won’t solve the problem.”
Oh my, how deluded, naive and short sighted I was!
Fast forward to 2017. Our beautiful, youngest daughter was born. For the first week she slept like a dream (NB. I’ve now come to realise that was most likely due to the amount of drugs I was plied with to try and induce labour and for pain relief, I had a 30 hour labour, that equates to a LOT of drugs).
Let me tell you this: that week of sheer bliss was short lived!
She’s 18 months old now and we’ve gone through so much stress, tears and difficult times. She was and still is a terrible sleeper. Her cot has been slept in a cumulative total of 12 hours since birth. She will only sleep within touching distance of me, she wakes up relentlessly through the night, she wriggles and needs constant reassurance. She has to sleep in our bed just so we all get some sleep. Controlled crying wasn’t for us, mainly because she would cry so hard she would make herself sick and I couldn’t bear to see her so upset, but that in itself is another blog entirely.
She’s fussy with food, she will only eat what we call the Beige Selection. Bread, porridge, banana, chicken soup, pasta, rice and the like. She will throw her food on the floor if she doesn’t want it or like it. She drops and smashes her milk and cup on the floor when she feels like it.
She has tantrums like there’s no tomorrow. She screams, she throws herself on the floor, she arches her back, she kicks and fights. Triggers of the tantrums can include but are not limited to;
- Needing a nappy change
- Having her nappy changed
- Handing her something but she wants to pick it up herself
- Putting milk in the wrong cup
- Asking her to leave her toys in the house when we are about to go out
- Getting her coat on
- Getting her coat off
- Getting her into any mode of transport (car seat, pushchair etc)
- She’s tired
- She’s not tired
- She’s hungry
- Dad tries to give her milk but she wants Mam *insert disclosure - I’m a Geordie*
- If a stranger says hello
- If a stranger doesn’t say hello
- If a stranger says hello, but in a tone that she just does not find acceptable…..
You feel my pain? I’m thinking a blog based on her tantrums in their entirety, a tantrum tally, would make for an entertaining read.
This is her at the start of what was an epic tantrum because Elmer came out at a book event and he didn't come over to her first.
She won’t share, she doesn’t play too well with other kids, she snatches, she hits, she throws things in a temper. She’s thrown an iPad off her older sister’s head, she’s thrown Lego off her older sister’s head; actually, her sister’s head is generally the target for most projectiles.
One of my oldest school friends visited with her little boy of a similar age last week. We had the “chat” before they arrived, where I reiterated the importance of being kind and sharing. 15 minutes into the visit, my friend’s little boy came in from the toy room crying. He had found a ball that she had no intention of playing with; until she seen him with the ball. So, she snatched it. Then proceeded to flaunt her victory by relentlessly waving her prize in full view and shouting ‘my ball’. A ball I don’t think she has ever played with. When I asked her to give it back and share, she walked off pretending like she had every intention to, then she hid it, so he couldn’t get it or find it. When I asked her to apologise a back-arching temper tantrum was induced and my poor friend had to leave.
This is a good example of her 'It's my ball' face!!!
She won’t go to anyone other than us or her grandparents. Which means we heavily rely on my parents for babysitting. I say heavily, they do ALL our babysitting.
My child is essentially every child I ever secretly judged all rolled into one and I am every parent I ever thought was parenting wrong.
Hooooowever…. that being said, would I change her? Not for anything in the world!
She is so beautiful, intelligent, funny and the cheekiest little girl in the world. I wouldn’t change her one tiny little bit. She is going to be one feisty, independent young woman, she knows exactly what she wants and she will achieve anything she sets her mind to.
For example, outrap Cardi B? Nicki? Lil Kim?
Her personality, albeit challenging, lights up our lives in the exact same way as her older sister. The love I have for both of them is no different and I share the same magical bond with both of them.
I also wouldn’t change her because she’s changed me. For the better.
She’s changed me from that naive, smug parent, to a parent that is understanding, empathetic and appreciative of every parent and their journey. Everyone is doing their best. Every child is different. We can never know the struggles other parents are facing and the worst thing we can do as peers is pass unhelpful, unkind judgement. And remember, there is no such thing as a perfect parent; so just be a loving one.
And what does perfect mean anyway?
Would love to hear what you guys think in the comments below, or share on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and tag us in with your thoughts!