It was almost like looking in a mirror.
I was stood on one side of the road and you were stood on the other. I, like you, had my pram and was flanked by two children – five year old on one side of me, three year old on the other. The three year old was screaming “mummy I want a cuddle!” with one breath and then, Miss Contrary that she was, bellowing “No mummy – leave me!!!” when I actually dared try to engage her. You were trying to placate your toddler boy and I could see your fraught face though I could not make out your words over the din of traffic and my own noise maker. We caught each others eye briefly as we waited for the green man to tell us we could continue the march to school and that is when, I think, we each saw ourselves in the other. Finally the beep as the green man appeared – the starter pistol telling us to get the banshees and go. Halfway across the road we met and I said “Something in the air?” just as you said “What’s up with the kids this morning?!”. You summed it up perfectly with your half joking, half deadly serious “GAAAAAAARGH!!!”.
For a few fleeting moments I had a comrade, a sister in arms, in you the perfect stranger and it made me smile in spite of myself (or, more accurately, in spite of bloody stroppy little madam to my right!).
I hope your day got better. Mine did, mainly thanks to bribery and Peppa Pig (not Dora the Explorer as after much brin wracking I now remember her to be the cause of the frackas in the first place!).
Well we made it through Izzy’s terrible two’s and the onslaught of fresh terror that age three brought with it (read http://dadoralive.com/2013/04/terrible-twos-easy-like-sunday-morning/ and apply it to my life and basically that’s it lol!). And just as there was light at the end of that very long and dark tunnel soI found myself ducking as a Scooby Doo figure came hurtling past my head, accompanied by a frustrated and extremely inarticulate shriek… what the f… Poppy?! Your first taster tantrum at the tender age of 15 months?! Batten down the hatches coz Poppy has always been the placid, laid back one and we know what they say about the quiet ones! Sure enough a few hours later hurricane force temper tantrums destroyed rooms and sent the dog running for cover. I grabbed my mental armour and prepared myself for battle, reminding myself that this wasn’t like dealing with an overtired three year old, this was back to basics. I could ask what was wrong and reason all I liked but when a child is too young to talk all you can really do is make soothing ahh, shh, ooh noises and approach with caution. Think antelope in a lions den. Think elephant on a rope bridge. Think chav on Jeremy Kyle. You know something bad is going to happen it’s just a matter of when. Make a sudden move to escape and it’s going to end badly. Sure enough legs kicked, arms flailed, backs arched (hers as she flung herself backwards in the time honoured tradition of angry toddlers and mine as I desperately tried not to drop her). Right, screw gently gently “Oi, Poppy, enough! Enough now!” Dog barks thinking I am bring mean to his friend. “Buster shh!” Izzy tugging at my top for attention “Um, mummy I think Poppy’s in a bad mood!” Y’think? What gave it away? “Um, mummy, she’s giving me a headache!!!” I nearly laughed atthis. Izzy had colic from two weeks old through to four months old. Her terrible two’s began at 18months and as previously mentioned she became an all out warrior aged three. My headache has been pretty permanent since she blessed me with her presence on 3rd July 2010 and here we are about to do it all over again with her little sister.
Eventually bad mummy reached for the bribery. Actually I say eventually, it was only about twenty minutes into it because Izzy was starting to make noises and with my parents-in-law living in the adjoining bungalow I am always worried they are going to think I’m killing one of their sweet, innocent granddaughters if the noise lasts too long. All I can say is thank God Poppy’s still on the boob because it works better than any chocolate bar ever did! So for now peace is restored and I sit here a wiser mummy. Because unlike last time, now I know the storm is coming and this time I know it’s not just a phase, that implies a slightly inconvenient and brief problem to be resolved with simple psychology. War is what this is. Parents versus toddlers, survival of the fittest, winner takes all. Chocolate is our friend. The boob is our friend. Tiredness is their weapon of choice and they have a three year head start. The game’s afoot; follow your spirit and upon this charge, cry “God for Harry, England and St George!”.