I’m walking in a mall with my Little Foot who’s loudly declaring “Walk! Walk!”.
I hold her hand and she screams and giggles in glee, dragging me headlong into the crowds. Quite cute. She finds a shop with things that attract her interest. She lets go of my hand, giggles and cheekily starts posing around, tentatively walks backwards, checking my reaction. I laugh.
(My inner self: “Die lah… I shouldn’t have laughed…)
And so she thinks its acceptable, and she continues her funny antics. I can feel Papa Long judging me for laughing. Thankfully, she hasn’t quite gotten so bold as to dash away without me, and she’s not quite as mobile as to run on her own, unless she’s running towards me into my arms. But still… I was telling her, is ok to drag your mummy through the crowds, while the rest of the world can’t quite see this 83cm todd.
The nightmare then starts when I said “let’s go!”.
“NO!” She’s still not yet done with the Tsum Tsyum feature wall in Bossini.
(My inner self: uh-oh…..)
And so I found myself carrying the kicking, wriggling loudly protesting toddler out of the shop. She broke free and wanted to go back. Then decided to throw herself flat on the floor in protest….
Yup, Terrible Two alright.
We let her lie down there as she started to kick up a fuss, and said “Come along now”… She ignored us. “Bye Bye!” we walked a slight distance away…to the horror of some passersby. She screamed and cried louder.
After a moment, I walked back, picked her up, and said “Let’s go”… and then try to distract her with something else. A food offer usually works… or comfort latch (ok, some people rolling eyes now I know).
The crying stops.
There is no repeat of this scenario (to date).
As we inch closer to the Terrific (some say Terrible) Two mark, there are some things that we felt we needed to do for Little Foot.
Helping her understand that there are real dangers out there. I let her into the store to explore, but within boundaries. There are racks and furniture with sharp corners. we point it out to her. There was a socket she tried to put her finger into. We almost freaked out and raised our voices. She also has to understand that Mummy and Daddy are not going to be able to find her everytime and there are bad guys out there. So I try to enforce the hand-holding and no running.
Letting her understand what is acceptable behaviour without stifling her curiosity. It is cute to giggle and scream in glee and dash through the crowd when you are a 2-year-old with a coconut hairstyle. Try doing that at 10 years old. Chances are some deranged short-tempered person would come up and scold you, worse, slap you. The world is not so forgiving. Sure, who doesn’t want to explore the mall? All the lights, all the displays, all the new things that triggers her senses… so many things to see, to touch. Exploring is good, but it has to be within a safe and acceptable situation.
So that day at Suntec, I let her lie down on the floor and make a scene. Everyone who knows me knows it’s very hard for me to walk away from her, but I really tried to harden my heart and do it, while watching her through the side of my eyes, and Papa Long standing nearby. She had to learn that it wasn’t something that was funny. At home if she does that, Papa would pretend to be stepping on her, showing her what it could be, if she did that in public – People will walk past and step the crap outta you. She had to understand that the world will not notice us short folks, and more importantly, kicking up a fuss does not mean she will get her way. Simply put, the world doesn’t owe you a thing.
At 21 months, she’s also trying to grasp her feelings. There will be some crazy evenings when everything is just wrong…. playing with a toy and then she suddenly slams it in frustration (My inner self: Simi daiji?!). She can’t quite tell me why, so those are trying days too, but we still set the limit. If she’s going to get angry and throw herself on the floor, my best offer is to help her lie down there by lowering her slowly so she doesn’t knock her head to bits. And then I leave her there. After awhile, I ask her a question, to signal if she wants to call a truce and then we move on to find something else to do.
Seems to work.
Little Foot has always been, as what we say in dialect, a “Mangzang” (loosely translated to irritable) baby.
We’ve taken awhile, but we’ve sort of gotten the hang of handling her tantrums.
Thankfully, most days, she’s a polite and cheery toddler… and she’s got a thing for music and children’s songs, so those are useful in keeping her happy. YouTube is a lifesaver too (cues anti-YouTube policing mamas!)
Our parenting styles are not perfect, and I make mistakes like sending her wrong signals by laughing at something she shouldn’t be doing. As first-time parents, we also apply some trial and error, and often we just let loose and say “ok, let’s cave in to he demands for that chocolate muffin” or close and eye when she decides to drag a plastic bag on the floor as she walks, so sometimes she gets confused by me too.
At times, I remind myself that she’s a kid, and kids are entitled to having fun, and I am human. Some days, I too am exhausted and feel like saying “OK lah, you wanna roll on the floor, roll lah!”.
We are all humans after all.
P.S: If you see us letting our kid roll around kicking and screaming in public, don’t judge us. We aren’t doing nothing. We are doing what we need to do, to teach a life lesson on the spot. So bear with us!