I was wondering what would stir me out of my slump and get me blogging again, and it turns out it’s anger.
We’re having a tough time with Sophie’s tantrums lately. I’ve spoken to Health Visitors, her nursery teachers, and so many other mums, (and to be honest, soooo many memes. I feel so seen.) and the general message I’ve been getting is: She’s three. They can be angels, and they can be savages. Sometimes both in the space of half an hour. But generally yeah, I’ve been told that she isn’t the only one like this, I’m not the only one going out of my mind trying to protect myself and Leonard from flying arms and legs while she screams herself hoarse on the floor, and I’m (thankfully) doing everything I can to make her feel safe and loved.
So, imagine my shock, horror, embarrassment, humiliation and astonishment when I get a knock on the door, mid-tantrum, from a (non-parent) neighbour, who seemingly wanted to make sure everything was ok but actually said a hell of a lot of things that left me reeling.
“Is she ok? It sounds like you’re killing her, we’re sat there wondering if we should be calling Childline”
“We don’t know if you’re doing anything about it or just burying your heads in the sand”
“It is a bit excessive, though”
“What’s wrong with her?”
What’s wrong with her?!
I cried. For quite a while actually. There’s nothing wrong with her. She’s three years old. We love her, and she loves us, but she’s learning to handle her emotions and three year olds aren’t very good at that yet. No, we can’t do much about her tantrums, but we’re letting her know that we’re there for her and she can come to us when she’s ready. Yes, it’s loud, but it’s not actually excessive. Anywhere between zero and three tantrums a day, only some of those near the adjoining wall, only some of those while everyone’s home, only some of those that last over a couple of minutes. I’d also like to point out that we constantly apologise for the noise, we’re not stupid, we know it’s loud.
Kids make noise. Parents try and minimize that noise, believe me, we do! If a noise annoys you, you can bet your ass it annoys us, the parents, too! You think I enjoy my child screaming in my face because they don’t want to wear socks? So trust me, if there’s a method people use to calm their kids down, you’d better believe we’ve tried it.
I like to think we’re nice people. People tell us we’re nice. I aim to be nice. There’s no point in being abrasive or rude, who gets any joy out of that? We don’t play incredibly loud music. We don’t talk loudly in the garden at 2am. We don’t have arguments so loud they leave the neighbours genuinely a little bit worried. I’ll leave you to imagine how I came up with those specific examples.
In summary: it’s fine if you’ve got advice that you think might help. We can always ignore it if we don’t like it. But if you don’t have experience with a particular situation, maybe don’t act like you do, and don’t try and make the parent (who already feels like an absolute failure and at the end of their tether) feel like they’re doing a crappy job. Not cool.