The day started ok. All three kids were bundled out of the car and secured into our two prams; a double and a single. It was like a commando exercise just getting out of the car park, into the throng of Xmas shoppers. Once outside, we maneuvered our way slowly through the crowds to Borders. A book was chosen, and we were on the search for another, when Nearly 4 started to whinge. “I want a toy,” she whined.
“No, we don’t need any new toys at the moment honey, just books today,” I replied in my best Mum voice.
“No, I want a toy, NOW,” she said, her voice getting higher. The hostilities had begun.
“Ok, you get one warning and this is it, there will be no toys and soon, if you keep talking to me like that, there’ll be no books either.” I’ve got this, I thought. Oh, how I was wrong.
“NO, I WANT A TOY NOW, GIVE ME A TOY, NOW.” Then the interpretive “Irish dancing” began. This escalated to random arm flings. Please ground swallow us up.
Realising Nearly 4 was not showing signs of her usual happy self and was instead morphing into “someone’s else’s child” (you know, one that throws themselves on the ground in shopping centres), my husband entered the battle. “We are going now,” he calmly stated. “There will be no toys, nor will there be any books. Calm down and behave.” He extracted the book from her hands and placed it on a shelf.
“GIVE ME BACK THAT BOOK, NOW,” she shouted, her little face red and contorted and her arms and legs swinging in all different directions.
“No, we are going now,” replied my husband. He looked in my direction and I knew it was time to don the flak jackets and make a speedy exit.
“DON’T TALK,” she bellowed in a guttural tone. “NO-ONE IS TALKING EXCEPT ME AND I WANT THAT BOOK AND A TOY, NOW. NOW, GIVE IT TO ME, NOOOOOW.”
I could feel people staring at us, but I wasn’t making eye contact with them, neither was my husband. Heads down, we quickly made our way to the lift and pounced on the down button, pushing it repeatedly with escalating force as the screams got louder. It felt like we were standing at the lift for hours, both of us willing the doors to open (or the ground to swallow us up) and save us from the disdain of the other shoppers. I don’t blame them for staring at us, as by this stage Nearly 4 was lying on the floor flailing about and at times pulling at the prams’ wheels in an attempt to drag us back to the shop floor. All I can say about the journey in the lift is, she is lucky we didn’t leave her in there.
By the time the lift doors opened on the ground floor, she was screaming even louder than before. “NO, I’M NOT NAUGHTY, I AM BEHAVING,” she shouted, thrashing around in her pram. “I DON’T WANT TO GO HOME. I WANT TO GO BACK UP THERE NOW AND GET A BOOK AND A TOY, NOOOOOOOW.” We were stoney-faced. We could hear people muttering as we passed: “Poor things”, “Check out that kid”. One woman even yelled out: “Been there, done that”.
I did the only thing I could do at that moment, I retreated from the fray. Luckily, I was pushing the pram with the baby who was happily smiling at people. I pretended I didn’t know the “poor man” who was fleeing out of the store with the scared looking 2yo and Nearly 4 “the exorcist child”. For those few moments I was happy again.
Once outside the shop, standing in the middle of the mall and surrounded by Xmas shoppers, we tried to diffuse the situation. We tried the “kneel down and get very close to her face and talk in a slightly menacing, yet calm voice” tactic and we tried the “you will never be able to come with us to the shops ever again” threat. None of those worked, so we walked as fast as possible back to the car, we were practically running, while Nearly 4 continued to scream. We’d spent 10 minutes at the shops, been publicly humiliated and paid $6 bucks for the thrill. It was pure joy.
When I told one of my friends, he said the tale made him feel better about his own child’s tantrums. His wife told us of a time she was heavily pregnant at a store and her unruly toddler decided to make a run for it, as she stood there struggling to hold him with one arm, while paying for her goods with the other, a man started having a go at her for having an “out-of-control child”. He even followed her out of the shop hurling abuse. When she finally got to her car, she sat in her seat and cried.
It made me wonder what is the best approach to dealing with a public tantrum, do strangers have a right to butt in and how do you respond to someone who attacks you while you’re in no state to respond?
What is your tantrum story? How did you deal with it? What was the reaction of those around you?
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This sounds like my Nearly Five.
I can’t share my tantrum story with you because there are just too many. All pretty much the same, over and over. I think you did really well, I deal with them exactly the same way, consequences, exit, consequences, leave. If anyone hurled abuse at me, then it would be clear that they had never had children but I would still probably go to my car and cry!
Sometimes I venture back to the same shop but always in disguise.
My kiddos are generally fairly well behaved too, but once my eldest (probably about the same age or a little older) tried on the same thing in the checkout at woolies. I started to laugh (as you do, it was pretty funny) and some lady decided she was so perfect she would tell me how to do it. I’m usually pretty meek, but apparently not that day! hmmm, hopefully her opinions will be kept in check next time she has an urge to be a bizzybody-knowitall-butinski!! 🙂
BTW, I miss adelaide…only $6 for parking! Last time I parked in melb CBD it was $19 an hour – strewth!!
Oh this made me laugh! Only because I didn’t want to cry and I’ve had enough tantrums to relate. Oh how I relate. I always thought I’d be a groovy Mum. My kids put an end to that by acting like you’ve just explained… groovy Mum didn’t stay so cool, and out came clenched jaw, hushed menacing voice, marching to the car, I need a valium Mum. 🙂
Love them all the same. As we Mothers always have to declare, as if having a whinge might infer otherwise.
PS – Realised I gave no advice. I think you did the perfect response. What else can one do? You just move on. They don’t understand not being able to have everything the lay their beautiful eyes on. I go with the theory other parent’s will understand. If they don’t, I relish in the idea of their discomfort, and smile. Always smile. 🙂
You handled it so well!
I’ve always given a knowing smile to parents of “exorcist children” at the shops – it’ll be me in a few short years.
I’ve never tried to give advice but I have offered to mind a woman’s shopping while she tried to run after her “devil spawn” 🙂
hahaha, god i can just picture it..we’ve been there too and Jamie is so quick to exit and be in the security of the car and ‘4 walls’ where you can go nuts at your nutty child and noone will hear you!! the worst we’ve had is at a childs birthday party/adults xmas drinks party, hence terrible mix as you get the parents with kids and the people with either no kids or kids so moved out of home that they cant remember the time they had kids in the home its not funny, number 2, massive tantrum mixed in with so much sugar that he was having a tantrum and going absolutely troppo at the same time, where the host father in law actually came up to me saying that my child was a disgrace and totally our of control!! i of course walked away sobbing into the arms of my dear friends and embarressingly 3 hours later when hubby had taken the broad of 3 home and the champers had kicked in I drunkardly hurled abuse to him as he was leaving…’my child is bloody brilliant, no youre the disgrace……’ god who was the child now??? hahahaha
Oh I didn’t realise you had my 4yo today? Every time we got to the shops she makes a scene.
I think the only time a onlooker should interfere is if the child is running out of the store. I’m happy for someone to spear tackle my child to stop them running out onto a road etc.
But I hate strangers talking to me or my kids, if one was abusing me or my child I’d tell them to get F* and hurl a can of beans at their head, then get my child to run up and stamp on their toes or kick them in the nuts.
interpretive “Irish dancing”…. classic, you could shout “wait till I tell your mother how you have been behaving”… he he he…
I wish I had no idea what you were talking about in this post but, sadly, I know too well. Take your pick. Five and a half year old tantrum today at the park? or twin two year old tantrums at any random moment? Fortunately my nearly four year old isn’t one for a tantrum (unless you count a foot stomp and arms crossed combo?) but he could win an award for whinging! I think you did a great job. Warn. Ignore. And when all else fails, retreat!
I have a two-year-old and a trip to the shops at the moment is enough to make me want to run away myself! So many tantrums lately, all because she wants to run around freely and touch everything in every shop. Not fun.
And when strangers dare to comment… let’s just say I don’t have very nice things to say to them!
The only people who butt in on kids’ tantrums are those experts who’ve never had children. But if they’d had them, they would have been totally perfect, right? Everyone’s been there at least once. Mr3 is going through a stage at the moment where I won’t even allow him to enter a toy store or aisle. When he asks why, I say, calmly, “because you turn into someone I don’t know when we get there”. Best avoided. And never, ever will I take a child Christmas shopping. That’s what the internet is for.
Thanks for Rewinding at the Fibro. 🙂
OH I feel for you.
Been there down that, many times.
The last time it was Shrek & Donkey big stuffin’ toys …my two equally screamed they wanted one.
I can manage them better now …if I bribe.
The whinging does me in, I raise my voice or get down low and growl in a menacing voice …
Mostly people just avoid eye contact , I know I do.
Sigh, it’s too familiar. I tend to just keep walking and even step over them if I have to. Ignore all onlookers. x
The Daddy was reading over my shoulder and asked if you were writing about our 3rd old.
I couldn’t believe that onlookers comment – even the ‘been there, done that’ I thought was inappropriate, unhelpful and unsympathetic. The most I can muster to a struggling mum is a sympathetic smile, I hope it’s enough to convey that we’ve all been there and give her a moment to believe that not everyone is judging her and/or her little person.
Hope that you manage your Chrissy shopping with your sanity intact. Fishpond is great for online book shopping in Australia 😀
I’ve had four tantrums in my life and I thought I made a right proper dork of myself 🙂
Oh hello, I was in borders in rundle mall on saturday and so thought about you – so I thought I’d better pop back for another read when I saw this on the rewind list! BTW out parking in DJs was $15…what has happened to little ol’ adelaide…not happy!