Kate’s Parenting Angst and Toddler Versus Teenage Tantrums

I know she has about thirty-five staff on the payroll to help her, which must give her a level of confidence that none of us can truly understand – because who else in the world could pull off white jeans with a baby and a toddler in tow? – but Kate Middleton must be an exceptionally brave woman to expose the royal kids to the full view of the media without looking stressed and about to crack open the wine.

 

This photo, however, gave us mothers struggling in the real world a glimpse behind the façade. It was something we all needed to see, to watch the future Queen of England grit her teeth while she tried to coerce George to behave in a manner expected of the future King of England, without losing the plot, storming off and telling Will to deal with it.

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I can commiserate. We’ve all been there. You can almost hear Kate’s words, ‘Fucking behave, will you!’

 

I can’t even manage to get my nineteen year old to behave in public, and although the press rattle on and on about how cute he is, I suspect that behind the chubby cheeks of little Prince George, he’s trouble just waiting to happen.

 

I can’t decide what’s worse, our current fears of going out with volatile young adults who have their own share of hormone imbalances to compete with mine – worrying about how drunk they’ll get or if they’ll cause some loud, dysfunctional argument and mention how much they hate us in public – or the toddler tantrums we’ve put behind us.

 

I hated the two to four year old stage with NC because she was highly strung and never slept during the day, hence a full risk assessment was required every time we left the house. I have PTSD as a result of those public tantrums, (and I’m not just talking about hers), caused by those times I collected her from daycare and she refused to come home with me or would only get into the car with the encouragement of the staff. Or the other times, when she refused to leave the playground or get off the swing that she had dominated whilst less wilful, (better mannered children that had learned how to share) patiently waited their turn and their mothers threw death looks in my direction, and it took all my strength and momentary hatred to restrain her back in the pushchair. I scraped the top layer of enamel off my teeth from gritting them so hard.

 

To this day I find it hard not to lob expressions of pity at young mums who have to take their toddlers with them anywhere in public, and I hope that they interpret those looks as sympathy rather than criticism. In truth, they may well be tinged with a hint of smugness and a relieved feeling of ‘thank fuck that’s over,’ as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Regression Of Middle-Aged Man Back To Toddler

You worry about how your marriage will evolve with age. You prepare yourself that one day there may not be enough to hold you together and you’ll end up another divorce statistic. What you never consider is that you might end up alone when your husband decides to become a hermit. sand-1500351_1280

 

As another dinner party looms ominously closer this evening, I’m concerned about getting the old man to actually leave the apartment. I understand that this is a common problem with middle-aged men, who can become so set in their ways they regress back to the behaviour of toddlers who are known to be highly reactive to change and things they don’t want to do.

 

It is becoming more and more apparent that the old man is not just the grumpy, old, middle-aged sod I had begrudgingly grown to accept, but that he would actually prefer to live on his own and pledge his troth to his man shed and the dog rather than me.

 

There have been signs of his yearning towards a solitary lifestyle for some time, that I’ve either chosen to ignore or bullied out of him, but the attraction has strengthened with age and as he becomes more intolerant to life in general.

 

Since he began to work from home, he rarely leaves the apartment unless he has to –  for exercise and to buy food. Fortunately for him there is a gym in our building – I call it a ‘gym’, but it’s actually the size of our kitchen, which as you know makes an appearance in the Guinness Book Of Records for being the smallest functioning kitchen ever designed. The gym holds two pieces of equipment, which the old man fights over with the Chinese lady on Level 1, who cleans down the saddle of the bike each day before her husband uses it.

 

The old man never cleans it down after use.

 

I managed to persuade him to come out to lunch with me at my favourite noodle restaurant the other day, because he was looking a bit peaky and I had watched an ugly, nervous rash develop when I reminded him about our weekend plans, but he got himself in such a state about the hoards of ‘people’ at the train station that he accidentally rubbed chilli in his eye and ended up crying through the entire meal, then made some excuse about needing to get back to check the post box.

 

The little conversation he has these days is with The Princess, who does a good impression of listening to him. However, I suspect that she isn’t as bright as we her proud parents like to believe, and so their dialogue is more likely to render her into a permanent state of confusion, and maker her more and more anxious by the day.

 

I’ve stopped turning around to him now when he says ‘hello, beautiful!’

 

He occasionally shifts from the two seater sofa to the three seater sofa, I assume to mix things up, which I see as a positive sign when he is such a creature of habit and bagsied the two seater when we first moved into the apartment. No-one apart from the Princess dares sit there.

 

Instead of going to the golf driving range, he has converted the small area in front of our lounge window into his golf practice area and we have the dents in the ceiling to prove it. He practices his small game down the narrow hallway to the bedrooms and The Princess, a willing partner in their symbiotic relationship, retrieves the ball for him each time.

 

Meaning there is less and less reason for him to leave the building.

 

He has told me that he will only holiday in Australia next year and now I am beginning to think that by Australia he actually means the Lower North Shore, which is the area in which we live. He has begun to graffiti ‘keep free’ through weekends in the family calendar.

 

This is why I expect him to throw himself on the carpet and kick and scream around 6pm this evening.

And The Oscar For Mother Of Worst Toddler/Toddler Of Worst Mother Goes to…

Those photos of poor Charlize Theron trying to deal with her son’s tantrum in the full glare of the media made me wince painfully the other day. baby-155178_1280

 

In a kind of sentimental way, really, because we’ve all been there, and they weren’t much fun when you’re a nobody from suburbia, let alone a Hollywood celebrity being stalked by the paparazzi.

 

So I’d like to dedicate this post to all those stoic young mums of imperfect toddlers, forced daily to do the dragging and pulling walk of shame dance to the car that toddlers force you to do when they don’t want to get in their car seat. Because all mums know that it’s traumatic enough to be on the receiving end of a full-blown tanty in your own private space, but a public one is triple points.

 

I’ve earned my stars in this department and so can speak from experience. In fact, I swear I wore the tee-shirt for birthing the most tantrumming toddler in NC, which I realise may be hard to believe from what I’ve divulged about my nerd… daughter in previous posts, but I have loads of friends that will vouch for me.

 

NC was a troubled child until around the age of ten, but the most trying period was in the four torturous years before she started school, when I was still green in the parenting department – AKA not having a fucking clue what I was doing. What made it worse was that the old man and I were one of the first in our peer group to fall pregnant, so we had nothing to compare NC to, just those Disney-like fantasies of raising the perfect baby I’d devoured through my pregnancy.

 

After the first post-natural childbirth-birth classes where everyone sat around and smugged on about what an amazing time they were having with their new baby, I remember one of my friends, who had obviously caught the look of contorted pain on my face whenever I looked NC, attempted to make me feel better after my precious bundle had screamed solo the whole way through baby massage. (I will always be grateful to you for that, Alice). She suggested that NC’s irritability might be because she was so bright – obviously trying to be kind – which the old man interpreted later that evening to mean that NC was obviously bored with the limited intelligence level of my postpartum company.

 

Whatever the reason behind my daughter’s disappointment with life and her new family – and truthfully there could have been any number of reasons such as not eating, hating the clown wallpaper I’d chosen for the nursery or the realisation that she had been unfortunate enough to get the fruitcake for a mother with not an ounce of maternal intuition – I’m certain that her anger was due to the debilitating tiredness bought on by her refusal to sleep at any point during the day, which meant that by witching hour our house would resemble Armageddon.

 

NC was a child who was fundamentally very unhappy in her own skin.

 

Anything and everything set her off. She screamed at the sight of men she didn’t know, hated being strapped into the pushchair, threw herself out of the car seat and screamed when I left her with the child minder. Once she even bit me when I came to pick her up to go back home.

 

Is it any wonder that wine time became quickly synonymous with witching time in our relationship?

 

And it’s why, these days, whenever I witness a child over-heat in the supermarket and some poor mother try to calm the situation down without giving in, I find it hard to know how to react towards her. What I really want her to know is that it’s okay, that most of us have been through what she’s suffering, to offer her my best ‘been there’, ‘feeling your pain’ kind of sympathetic smile, without coming across as some patronising, judgmental middle-aged smug. Perhaps it would be better to ignore her completely so that she doesn’t feel like there is some national conspiracy to make her feel like she’s the worst mother in the world.

 

Because that’s how I felt.

 

We feel your pain, Charlize, and if it wasn’t for Kurt I could tell you with my hand on my heart that it will get better.