Rosie has turned two, and we’ve hit the legendary tantrum stage. The stage where she needs at least twenty minutes to calm down, and there’s nothing I can do in the meantime except wait.
For the most part, I am ok with this. I understand why this happens. She has very little control over her life, she is understanding that she is separate to me, she is testing out her boundaries and she has very little control of her feelings and emotions. That’s fine. That’s normal.
What is not fine or normal is the response from members of the general public.
We were on a bus recently and Rosie was having a meltdown. Screaming, scratching, hitting, pulling my hair. I calmly removed her hands and continued to name her feelings, reassure her and offer her a cuddle. All was par for the course until an older man on the seat in front of us changed it.
He stood up, turned round, leant down towards my daughter and shouted, ‘What’s all that bloody noise?!’
And I didn’t say anything.
I didn’t stand up for her. I didn’t defend her. I didn’t explain why she was upset. I did nothing other than stare at this man with a look of shock on my face.
I felt truly awful. Was I a bad parent? Should I have shouted at her? Should I have smacked her, even? Should I have got off the bus miles from home so as not to inconvenience other passengers?
After I’d got off the bus, I realised that no, I was absolutely doing the right thing with her. What I had done wrong was not defending her. That realisation brought me almost to tears. How could I be a positive role model and empower my daughter when I have allowed a random man to shout at her on public transport?
I made it my resolve to never ever allow her to be treated that way again, or to allow anyone else to make me feel that way again.
Rosie being two, it was a mere three days before I had the opportunity to practice this.
We were at our local Tesco, Rosie in the trolley. She was upset at having been woken up, hungry, and just really not feeling it. She had gone into meltdown mode, kicking, screaming, slapping myself and her dad if we got too close. We recognised the problem so immediately went to the food on the go section to remedy it. Rosie and her dad waited by the sandwiches while I queued up to pay for her food. An older lady was stood behind me. She looked at them and rolled her eyes. This was the following exchange:
Her: Good Heavens.
Her: That girl, making all that noise.
Me: Actually, I’ll have you know that’s my daughter. She’s two. She can’t yet control her feelings and emotions.
Her: (looking a bit taken aback) Well, surely he should be doing something about it. Comforting her or telling her to shush.
Me: No. It’s not possible. She’s gone beyond that. All we can do is wait.
Her: (now looking definitely affronted) Well…
And that was that. I was served, I took Rosie the food and she calmed down enough to eat it.
As for me? I felt great. My daughter needed me to defend her struggles, and I did it. I did it calmly and assertively. I didn’t use foul language, and I didn’t raise my voice. I simply stood up for her when she was unable to do so herself.
It was very empowering. And I do so hope that lady thinks twice before judging anyone else or making comments that may really hurt someone or cause them self doubt. I hope she now has a little more awareness that a situation may be more nuanced than she can see at first glance.
She very likely won’t, and she’ll have very likely complained about me to her friends at Bingo, but still, I can hope.
And I absolutely will continue to defend my daughter. For she is only two, and she does not yet have control over her feelings and emotions. At two, I don’t expect her to have that control.
I do however expect adults to. And I will continue to calmly correct that behaviour when those adults feel a need to shout, criticise, or complain at either me or her.
After all, she is only two.