My son has reached the age of the tantrum. He has learnt, through rigorous repeated testing, that if he screams enough, he might just get his own way. At 21 months old, he knows, he is mentally stronger than his mother.
Here are just a handful of the things Leo has screamed about over the last week:
Sitting in his car-seat/pushchair/highchair/supermarket trolley-seat, having to come indoors, closing the front or back door, not being given the key to put into the front door, not wanting a bath, one of us touching his walker, peeling a banana for him…
Because much of his resistance is to sitting still, I try and let him walk as much as possible. This often presents more challenges than one might imagine, and is not always helped by the array of objects-on-wheels Leo likes to push around. The first being his actual pushchair, which he regularly enjoys crusading along with. I have no problem with this, as long as he remains on the pavement, which of course he doesn’t. (Mainly because he can’t actually see where he’s going.) If I try and guide the pushchair so we’re not as close to the road, he will bat my hand away. The same goes if there are people coming towards us and I need to steer to the side; more batting away. It is only when we have landed in the road one too many times that I finally lose my cool completely, take control of the pushchair and attempt to plonk him in it. The crying commences.
Then there is the shopping trolley. An object that’s been on more journeys than all of his favourite toys combined. If you’ve been in or around Wokingham town centre in the last month or so, you may well have seen a little boy pushing a tiny (toddler size) plastic orange Sainsbury’s trolley. You may well have also seen a woman, hovering inches away, looking somewhat unhinged.
Perhaps you’re one of the lucky few to have dodged out of his way as he came charging towards you. Or one of the unlucky few who had to witness me attempt to prize the trolley away when it all got too much. Frequently running too near the road is enough to prompt a removal of the trolley. Though he has the firm grip of a large primate so I delay this for as long as I can bear it. Often he will continue to hold the trolley even when sat in his pram; unwavering in his commitment to this basket-on-wheels.
“So sweet!” people will say as he marches past them, looking very intentional, clearly with somewhere to be. I smile through my heart palpitations.
From one trolley to another, I took the children to Tesco recently, a fairly large supermarket where any parent in their right mind would put a toddler in their trolley seat right away. Because I have never quite learnt my lesson, I like to delay making my life easier until I am at my wit’s end. I allow Leo to roam around, accompanied by his sister, completely unattached to anything on wheels. This is unwise.
There are lovely calm moments met with utter chaos as he begins removing cans from shelves and placing them in the trolley, then realises he has access to all the chocolate and why not help himself to some Smarties?
Half the supermarket knows about it when I eventually decide enough is enough and I cannot get through my food shop whilst chasing him down aisle 12. He cries and screams and stiffens his legs so it’s impossible to slot him in the seat. With the help of some Veggie Sticks (and Maia guiding his legs through) he eventually gives in.
Distraction and bribery are a toddler-parent’s greatest ammunition. I would never be on time for Maia’s school pick-ups if it weren’t for the toy/book/rock/rice-cake/bowl of pasta at hand.
Well, truth be told, I am rarely on time. I blame that trolley.