We were out shopping in one of our local market towns last week and were having a relatively good day with Monkey. Apart from not wanting to be in the buggy/ carrier or to walk, we had managed to get through a whole morning without tantrums.
As we walked around a corner there was screaming and pleading coming from the entrance of a café and out walked a Dad with a screaming, tantruming child under his arm, followed by a flush faced Mum. They tried to get the child into the back of the car, who of course did the whole rigor mortice act and proceeded to scream even louder.
For us this is quite a regular scene so I only really took so much notice of it because of the large crowd that had gathered around. Before I saw what was really happening I thought it must be something truly awful for so many people to be stood openly watching.
But no, it was a small child having a tantrum.
I then got really, really angry.
I could see all of this happening as we walked up the street and I looked quickly at the crowd that had gathered. They were all of the older generations. Not one of them was offering help, whether it was to open the car door or offer a word of encouragement. They just stood staring, talking to each other behind their hands, pursing their lips and openly looking disgusted and shaking their heads.
By the time we got to where it was happening the child had been coerced into their seat, the door slammed shut and the parents were busy hurling themselves as fast as they could into the front seats. I loudly spoke to my husband as we passed about parenting solidarity and the common place of children’s tantrums. I would have spoken to them but they had that wild eyed look of wanting to get away from the scene as fast as possible.
I hope that in the heat of the moment, the parents were oblivious to the staring crowds but having been in similar situations I know I felt every pair of judgemental eyes boring into me. I hope they heard my comments and realised they were not alone and child tantrums are something we all (unfortunately) have to deal with.
But what compels people to act as the little groups did? Is it a generational thing of the old ‘children should be seen and not heard’? Did their children really never have a public tantrum? Do they really think that standing around as they did, passing judgement, is going to help the situation?
Maybe we should start selling tickets to our children’s public performances?
‘Roll up, roll up, front row tickets still available for the 3 o’clock performance of my child doesn’t want to put her wellies on the right feet.’ If it’s going to draw crowds we might as well add to the gin fund.
So, to all parents of tantruming children. You are not alone, you are not doing anything wrong and remember, we are all in this together.