Tag Archives: tantrums

Don’t wish it away. . .well, not all of it anyway

A LADY stopped me in a shop this week, to tell me she regularly read my local newspaper column, and asked after the kids by name. (I blushed, garbled an embarrassed thank you, felt enormous relief that someone actually reads it).

She told me how her own children were now grown up, and that she didn’t get to see her grandchildren often, as they lived elsewhere.

“One thing you shouldn’t do though,” she said. I braced myself. Which of my numerous parental faux-pas had she remembered?

“Don’t wish any of it away, not a second. Not even the tantrums, the teenage years, the mountains of washing. Before you know it, they’ll all have gone, and you’ll miss it more painfully than you could ever imagine.”

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Fun in the dark with fireworks, mud and toffee

“I DON’T like fireworks, we should go home now,” announced our three-year old daughter, ten minutes before the actual pyrotechnics even started.

By that stage we were already standing in a field, in the dark, having persuaded our youngest two off spring to stay close to us with various sweets, candyfloss and toffee-apple bribes.

The elder two and a friend had disappeared into the night, shouting promises to behave and clutching all our remaining cash.

“We can’t go, it hasn’t even started yet,” said Bloke. “Anyway, I thought you were excited?”

Indeed, for the previous five hours, after finding out we were planning a trip out to watch fireworks, Bonnie had punctuated every conversation with “I’m soooo excited!”

She’d bounced around the house getting her warm coat and wellies on. She’d chattered uncontrollably in the car on the way, and had oooed and ahhed over the raging bonfire that greeted her across the fields on arrival.  

Bloke and I were discussing how much easier it was to be enthusiastic about Bonfire Night when it wasn’t pouring with rain and freezing cold.

Then Bonnie switched from Being Excited to Being Whingey.

“Pick me up Daddy. I don’t like fireworks Daddy. I don’t like being here Daddy, I want to go home Daddy.” (I stayed out of it. I’d done Bonfire night on my own the previous year, with a pram, in mud, in the freezing rain).

What do you do when your toddler shows expresses fear? Do you cut your losses and head home?

Or do you stick it out, running the risk of giving them a firework phobia for the rest of their days?

Bah, you tell them not to be daft, explain what the fireworks will look and sound like, and stick it out, of course.

Bloke picked her up, and told her he’d cover her ears if the fireworks were too loud. After an initial burying of her face into his shoulder, she was persuaded to turn around and watch the pretty fireworks along with everyone else.

She soon got used to the noise, and by the time the initial few rockets had gone up, she forgot that she didn’t like fireworks. She was whooping and ‘ahh-ing’ away, while simultaneously smearing her face and coat with the reddest, stickiest toffee apple ever purchased.

Meanwhile Bloke’s back was aching from having to hold her at an angle so they could both look skywards, while unwittingly having red toffee rubbed into his jacket.

We rounded up the rest of the kids, who appeared out of the darkness, muddy from head to foot. They patiently explained that as the display was at Casuals Rugby Club, they’d felt obliged to play some rugby. . .

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After babyhood, prepare yourself for the shock and awe of the teenage years

PLENTY of people warn you about the impact a newborn baby will have on your life, but there’s a second phase of shock and awe to come which is less discussed.

When it comes to coping with teens, the conversation just becomes clichéd.

It’s true that they do, literally overnight, lose the ability to speak without mumbling and leave clothes and towels all over the floor. They do get spots and fill the house with a gagging fog of Lynx body spray (I’m sure if you have daughters it’s something like Impulse).

But who ever tells you how you’ll feel when they’re suddenly as tall as you, or have bigger feet than you?

Or when they start having friends whose Mums you don’t know from the school gates?

Or going to parties that don’t involve a bouncy castle injury and a piece of squashed birthday cake?

In a weird way, watching them grow up gives you delight and sadness.

Somehow the years between the ages of about two and 11 seem strangely simple, if a little manic. Even when I had four of them aged ten and under.

You know – most of the time – where they are, who they’re with, and what they’re up to.

Then suddenly, you don’t.

It’s easy, well, easy-ish, to allow them some independence. That mobile phone you finally relented on when they started secondary school, that might make you feel better because you would always know where they were?

Well, now it’s not only the ever extending leash, it’s the source of all the stuff you don’t know about. The Twitter feed, the faceless friends, the Facebook events, and freedom from family.

I can’t pretend I’m not jittery about seeing my elder boys grow up, grow away. And while I try to be cool, try not to hover, Bloke tells me I need to resist the urge to stop them making their own mistakes. I need to stop throwing up the metaphorical bumpers at the bowling alley.

I can’t help it, I still see my 14-year-old as that wide-eyed smiley baby who wouldn’t sit still for a moment.

Anyway, to revert to the clichés, I can still enjoy being an embarrassing mother. Apparently they are mortified when I get cross in shops, or try to hug them in public. Emptying their three-year-old sister Bonnie’s potty by the kerb when she’s caught short in the car is one of my specialities (needs-must), as well as wolf-whistling loudly in public spaces to get their attention. Strangely, they aren’t particularly bothered about the fact I write about them in these columns.

Slightly bruised by their casual list of my misdemeanours, I ask, “What about Dad, doesn’t he ever embarrass you?”

“Nah, Dad’s pretty cool.”

I give up.

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Tears and tantrums (mostly mine): it’s uniform-buying week

WE’RE meant to be shopping for school uniform. I’m leafing through the endless racks of black trousers in BHS when I realise I’m talking to myself.

Two of the boys are across the shop wrestling over a tape measure while another and his sister have managed to climb on top of a Thomas the Tank Engine toddler ride in which they’ve already lost 50p.

Their coats and bags are strewn across the floor which other shoppers are having to step over. I shout. It’s all rather embarrassing.

One of the boys is ordered into the changing room laden with eight pairs of trousers in differing sizes, some of which are unhelpfully security tagged together in pairs, so when he emerges to show if a pair fits, he’s dragging its twin along like a bedraggled, dusty tail. None of them fit properly.

The shop assistant stares, unhelpfully, as I try to fold them back onto their hangers.

While another son grumpily enters the changing room, daughter decides she’s going to take every adult shoe off the rack and try them on. When this game is stopped she starts the wailing and flopping routine, refusing to walk or be carried.

Son emerges having decided the first pair of trousers he’s tried are fine and throws them into the basket. I look at the label: £16 for one pair. I send him back in with a £7 pair, knowing I’ll be spending most of the year sewing up hems and gussets wrecked by breaktime football. They fit. We buy two pairs. Then two more, cheaper, in M&S.

Here we go again then, one week to go before they’re back at school and the hell of uniform shopping is firmly upon us.

With three offspring in school, two of whom seem to grow every time they leave a room, it’s an expensive time of year – especially if you’ve just reduced your working hours for the holidays. I think this September’s uniform will have cost me over £300. And I’m a make-do-and-hand-me-down-bargain kinda mum.

It’s not just the cost, it’s the stress. I know you’ll tell me it would be a trillion times worse if I had three girls, but let me assure you, traipsing around the shops with bored and grumpy boys isn’t fun either.

I’d hoped that Dougie’s compulsory school uniform would last more than a year. It hasn’t. His blazer has a weird bleach mark across it, his tie is mutilated, his PE kit is either lost or too small. Along with Jed’s new kit, the official stuff is going to cost the best part of £200 when the shop opens this week.

Shirts are easier. Multipacks for boys are between £7-10 and Bill’s yellow polos cost a fiver for three. Job done.

But then there’s the annual trouser hell. Girls seem to have lots of styles and stretchy fabrics. Boys are stuck with flat front or pleated in stiff Teflon coated fabric. Two sizes – skinny or enormous.

Shoe shopping for our boys seems to have a basic formula.

The conversation usually goes:

Them: “I like these.”

Me: “They look like trainers. You aren’t allowed shoes that look like trainers.”

*repeat several times and get home empty-handed.

There have been some successes. A speculative TKMaxx run stocked us with rucksacks, coats and shoes for Jed. Dougie is still shoeless and Billy’s, bought at Easter, may have to last a little longer.

If you witness me having a nervous breakdown in a shoe shop later this week, keep walking, there’s nothing to see. . .


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Three-year-old miss driving me crazy

WHEN you have four children, people might assume that you have the solution to all parenting issues. Maybe more so when you parade yourself each week in the pages of a newspaper as someone who writes about parenting issues.

The stark fact is that as a parent, you never really have solution to problems that your kids throw at you.

Children go through phases as they grow. Sometimes difficult, drawn-out ones that drive you to distraction, and often completely different from any sibling who may have arrived on the planet earlier.

You might know a few tricks from experience which help, but ultimately, there’s no magic wand; no fairy godmother. (Although our kids do have someone they call their “Fairy Godmother,” who lives abroad and visits with armfuls of exotic presents, massive hugs and doting attention).

Bonnie goes her own way

Bonnie is three-years-old. She’s the only girl, and the fourth child.

And at the moment, she’s driving me up the wall. Forget the ‘Terrible Twos’, it should be the ‘terrible twos-and-threes-and-possibly-even-fours.’

Most of the time, she’s funny, bright and adorable to be around.

Sometimes, she can be a naughty little madam.

And it’s true that all the boys had their phases. Tantrums, rudeness, fighting, back-chat and disobedience, yes, been there, seen that.

Bonnie seems to be totally immune to my methods. The boys were usually aware when they’d crossed the line. For Bonnie, half the fun seems to be in jumping over it. For Bonnie, it seems the words “No,” and “Don’t” are heard instead as “Go ahead, of course you can.”

The books will tell you that you shouldn’t use negative words around kids, but that’s no good when they’re balancing on top of a stool on top of a beanbag to try to climb up a bookcase, or have worked out how to remove screw-top lids on everything from sauce bottles to shampoo. When they constantly try to wriggle out of your grasp when crossing roads, or run off in shopping centres, it’s not just exhausting, it’s dangerous.

Perhaps it’s not the kids. Perhaps it’s me. Perhaps I’ve just forgotten how nerve-shredding, ear-splitting, panic-inducing, repetitive and knackering having pre-schoolers can be.

One thing I do know, from experience, is that the best thing is to grin and bear it until she grows out of it . . . and/or the next issue comes along to distract everyone.

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She peed in my shoes

The slippers (after a wash)

THE Terrible Twos are in full swing in our house. Our Baby Bonnie is no longer a baby but a full-on foot-stomping, screaming, temper-tantrum-throwing little madam.


I don’t ever wish to gender stereotype but she does seem stroppier than the boys were at the same age. It might have taken slightly longer for her to twig on to the power of an all-out bout of the screaming ab-dabs, but boy, is she making up for lost time.

Bonnie is now two and four months old. She can speak fairly well, is mostly good at making it to the loo in time and knows exactly what she likes (tomatoes, ice-cream, the garden and Peppa Pig) and what she doesn’t like (being told NOT to do something).

We’re now at that wearying stage where she is aware that she’s doing something she shouldn’t.

The tantrum stage is all about independence and testing boundaries. You want her in the car seat, she wants to go in Billy’s booster seat. Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough, Mum.

I can just about manhandle a twisting, kicking child into a car seat, but her wriggling out of holding hands and running off is testing both my patience and fitness.

Bonnie used to come when called. Not now. She will zoom off and when you call her back she will actually pick up speed.

I’ve attempted the tried and trusted Counting Backwards from Five technique (this still works with the boys who can’t resist the competitive element of racing back before “. . .one!”). But she’s not bothered. She wants you to have to run after her and then has a full on tantrum when you prevent her from being run-over.

Extra annoying, of course, is that she reserves this behaviour for me. The childminder will only get a mildly sulky version. Daddy gets adoration.

Despite ignoring her, or picking her up and taking her elsewhere when she does that blood-curdling scream, and resolutely not giving her whatever she wanted in the first place, it does wear you down. And girls don’t seem to forget how annoyed they were with you two hours previously.

The tantrums will pass, but by gum, you have to resist the temptation to join in.

On the other hand, she can be an absolute delight. She insisted on having “lady toes” when she found me re-painting my chipped toe nail varnish (my one attempt at femininity).

She loves shoes, and found my forgotten shiny silver slippers and insisted on wearing them around the house saying: “I a ladeee.”

Until the moment she looked me right in the eye and said: “Mummy, these are your slippers” . . . and then did a wee in them.


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