So, yesterday I was wracked with guilt about my failings as a mother. I was reflecting on a morning ill-spent: shouting, whinging, nagging and eye-rolling. Tsk tsk. Must do better.
I had grand plans today. Nothing fancy, you understand, jobs, shopping tasks, a play date – the usual – but I resolved to be more patient; much easier to please and aware of the fact that I’m actually caring for 3 very young children – not colleagues, co-professionals or even friends.
Sounds good, yes?
Enter: my youngest daughter.
Don’t be fooled by those gorgeous little dimples, they may make you think that this little cherub is all sweetness and light. My most visibly expressive child can light up a room with her ‘delighted’ face. She can reduce a crowd to tears with her beautifully sweet (if a bit gruff) rendition of baa baa black sheep. All very endearing.
She didn’t get the memo today.
For some reason, my youngest daughter (aged 23 months) took it upon herself to destroy any remaining (albeit delusional) self confidence about my ability as a parent.
I know; she’s little. I get it; she doesn’t understand. I realise; she’ll grow out of it. I even concur; I probably started the issue myself through my own inept attempts at parenting. But nothing could quite prepare me for the ferocity of today.
Leaving the house, she was in good spirits. No work today, so we were taking big brother to school. The routine has been no different in the last 2 years: we get in the car, drive to school, walk him to the classroom, walk back to the car and return home.
Not today, chaps.
The trip to school, very obliging. Wearing a princess dress, addressing the public with waves and smiles – this child, born of the same day as wee Prince George himself, was living up to her royal connections. By the time we returned to the car, she’d degenerated into the c-list celeb starting a fight after a straight-to-DVD Jason Statham film premiere.
If she was 19 and she told me ‘YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND ME, I’M AN ARTIST!’ While swigging from a cheap bottle of champagne and smearing her eye make up across her face I would have understood. I may even have had a swig and joined in. But she’s 23 months old and the only weapons she possesses consist of a contradictory complement of an iron will and the ability to melt hearts at 50 yards.
It was not acceptable to ask her to get in the car.
I should not have attempted to get her back in the car.
She does not like her car seat.
She does not like her obliging car-seat-accepting sister.
She definitely, does not like me.
So there we were. Angelic 3 year old sat waiting patiently, playing with the toy dog on a real lead in the car. Strapped in, singing Frozen songs, intermittently enquiring (pleasantly) how long this stand off was going to last. Myself, chatting amiably to passers by, dog walkers, pensioners about the time of day. The lovely weather, reassuring that I was the child on the pavement’s mother. No, she wasn’t being murdered. No, she isn’t tired. No, she isn’t hungry. Yes, I expect it is a phase. No, I really won’t give in. No, my daughters are not twins. Yes, they are quite close in age. And yes, yes, I really do have my hands full. And my youngest. Flitting between delighted entertainment of strangers (‘hello, bye bye, my a naughty girl! No. Chair is not nice. My hungry.’ And other delightful phrases) and devilish screaming, kicking, pinching and slapping of anyone who should approach her.
My response? Ignore the whole thing. Take photos of her sat on the floor to post on Facebook, reason – she can’t sit there all day. It was only when I threatened to ring the childminder to tell on her, that she got up and conceded that she wasn’t going to get anywhere doing this…20. Minutes. Later.
I’d say we got in the car approximately 9 times today.
No wonder I’m quite tired.