Me and my violent toddler
Here I am again, writing another post that makes me feel like the rainbow loving girl from Mean Girls. But seriously, WHY can’t we just all be kinder to each other?!
We’ve just got back from a morning spent with one of our LOVELY friends at a local play cafe. The same place I’d been before I wrote the last blog post, so maybe I should learn my lesson and just stop going.
Jet has been through an incredibly tiring and testing stage over the last year. Lots of aggressive behaviour and just generally being a two year old. I’ve written about it and filmed a video recently about how I dealt with it. The irony is, I actually feel like that stage has kind of come to an end, I don’t feel like he's ever violent with other children completely out of the blue anymore. There’s always a reason (not that that makes it remotely acceptable) they’re always fighting over a toy or in his way on the way to the slide.
I’m in a better place than I was when the stage started. I still find it completely draining and hard work but I’ve built up a bit more resilience. The thing that makes me so sad is that I haven’t had to build up a resilience to Jet and his behaviour I’ve had to build up a resilience to other mums.
The grief and judgement that I’ve felt from other mums over the last year has been incredibly depressing. It’s a shame because I’m sure for each negative experience there’s probably been 10 kind responses. But, of course, we only remember the negative. (I’m saying mums and not dads on purpose, I’ve noticed that I’ve never felt judged by a dad)
This morning at the cafe Jet was walking on a balance bridge and a little girl was in his way (not her fault of course! ha!) He wanted to get past and so pushed her out of the way. Obviously that is completely unacceptable and he also pushed her far too hard to even pretend it was a mistake. I instantly ran over to go through my routine I’ve built up with him (again I spoke about this in recent video) but the venom that I was met with from the other parent knocked me back.
An aggressive telling off and finger pointing. HOW could my child do such an incredibly awful thing.
You know, My TWO year old boy?
Last year I would’ve been left feeling completlely humiliated, I would’ve told Jet off and dragged him away wanting the situation to end as quickly as possible.
But this time I thought, no, I’m not going to let this lady’s response affect my parenting. So I put on my happy, calm voice and explained to Jet that what he did wasn’t kind, I asked him to apologise and then I played with him there, chatting about how to be kind to his friends.
I then went back to my friend, a little shaky. A few minutes later the mum came over and apologised. Acknowledging her dramatic response.
A few minutes later, just when I thought my morning was safe. Jet and a little girl got in a fight over a pink ride-on Mini Cooper (classy cause for an argument) which resulted in Jet pulling the little girl. I was already on my way across the room when the mum of the girl beckoned me over with absolute dagger eyes.
‘HE PUSHED HER’ She shouted at me, as if I hadn’t seen.
“Yes, I know, I’m so sorry’ I replied in my well practiced calm and polite voice (inside I was shaking like a leaf)
The mum didn't wait around to help resolve the situation, she went off leaving me, Jet and her little girl. I (yet again, can you see the pattern of my life at the moment) explained to Jet that what he’d just done was very unkind, and we needed to apologise. Which he did. eventually.
I then looked up and that’s when my heart dropped to my feet and I felt sick. The group of mums were having a heated and dramatic chat about ‘that violent boy’.
I mean how dare the same child get into more than one altercation in one morning. Doesn’t he know the allowed quota is one fight per morning.
‘Did you see the way he pushed the other girl earlier?’ one said, acting it out.
‘I know! Awful!!’ the other replied, shaking her head, clearly appalled.
‘Mmm, hmmm’ the others all nodded along with each other, arms crossed.
I stood up. (Physically and metephorically!)
"Are you talking about my little boy?’
‘Yes’ replied the mum-of-the-pushed-girl (as she’ll now always be known!) with a smile on her face.
I replied with as little passive aggression as possible but let’s be honest my words were dripping with passive aggression.
‘Yes, he’s TWO, he’s been doing a lot of pushing recently and its been really hard. We’re working on it. I’m trying to explain to him how to be kind. But I'm also trying to show him as well. This is a stage he’s going through, but in terms of a child’s long term behaviour I think they reflect what they see. That’s why I think its so important for them to see us mum’s being kind to each other.’
She gave a half smile and just turned and walked away.
Part of me completely gets it. We’re like lionesses with our cubs, if we feel any threat at all we show our teeth and our protective instincts go into over drive. In those moments those mums felt like their child was the victim. But I think it’s so important to try and always see the situation from both sides.
In the same way that later on a little boy was pulling Jet out of a car (the bloody pink Mini Cooper) I couldn’t see who the parent was so I went over and explained to Jet that maybe this little boy wanted a turn now and so he got out and found something else to play with. Yes, the other child was pulling Jet but he was little and was communicating in the way that he knew how.
I headed home feeling deflated and shaken but mostly feeling really sad for other parents out there. Other parents whose children are testing them at the moment. Parents that dread going out because of what behaviour they might have to deal with. I hate the thought that someone could say something to knock the last shred of confidence that parent might have.
I consider myself to be a pretty confident parent, self assured in the choices I make. But I came home, put both children down for their naps and sat and cried, questioning if maybe I am doing something wrong. Am I failing Jet?
If I’m left feeling like that then there must be other mums out there feeling like that too. Our response to each other has the power to leave such a long lasting ripple effect.
So, mums. Please can we be kinder. Can we have a bit more grace. Can we stop and think about the kind of day some one else might’ve had. That the mum of a violent child might be feeling completely empty and exhausted. Drained of everything and in need of a smile.
Yes, bad behaviour is wrong, but let’s assume we’re all doing our best? It’s not one mum against the other, together we can look at the situation and teach our children about compassion in the most tangible way. By having compassion for each other.
Big love x