I’ve said recently that having a toddler is a bit of a whirlwind. That has never been more apparent than it has been in the last few days.
A few days ago, my child was “that” kid. The child that other people look at and are automatically glad they’re not theirs. The child who interrupts meetings, shouts and screams and behaves like a wrecking ball. That day, that was my daughter.
We went to a market research for a baby brand. The minute we got there Eden was running around like a hooligan demanding fruit and similar. The lady gave her an orange and she threw it, only to then try and get another one and lose her mind when she didn’t get one.
We went into the research room with three other parent and child combos. Two of the children were the same age as Eden. They sat on their mums’ laps and tried the food nicely while their mums had adult conversation about refined sugar and cooking for their kids. The other family was a dad and little girl who was a year older than Eden. She sat nicely, tried the food and had a little wander near the end to play with the toys and such.
My darling daughter? Tried one spoon of food and spat it out, messed up all of their pencils, covered herself and one of the researchers in stickers, demanded more fruit and cried when she didn’t get it, broke out of the room and ran around the reception and stole pencils from another little girl whilst shouting “MINE MINE”.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I did intervene. I was right behind her every step of the way and I made sure the other little girl got her pencils back, but man. It was probably the hardest time I’ve had with her. I know certain things are expected in a market research and I feel like I didn’t give them much material to work from because my daughter was overtired and hyper.
They paid me money, but I could have really used a “good job”. I put my brave face on, but I felt like a terrible mother. The whole time I’d felt like the judgey eyes of a couple of the other parents were burning into me. I’m pretty sure I was looking quite red for the duration because I just felt so embarrassed. Of course as soon as we got out of the building, Eden fell sound asleep, I grabbed a coffee and we took the boat home so I could have a little time to decompress. I chatted to some friends and tried my hardest to remember that one day doesn’t set a trend, but it was definitely difficult to have perspective at that point.
Cue the total opposite yesterday. We went to a launch event for the Fisher Price Little People toy range. Eden was, for the most part, a total joy. She shared as nicely as a nineteen month old could be expected to, joined in (sort of) with the activities and didn’t shout, scream or throw things. Like she does the vast majority of the time, Eden made me proud to be her mummy. I’d spent the past few days worrying about this event because of her behaviour at the previous one, but she proved to me that I needn’t have given it any thought.
I know one day doesn’t make a trend, but it felt terrible at the first event to be the one with “that” child in a room of people – some of whom were judging massively. But then the second event showed me the opposite emotion – total pride at how great my little girl was and reminded me that I shouldn’t judge those whose kids weren’t doing as well as mine. I remembered how awful I had felt to be on the receiving end of that judgement because my child was having a bad day.
These opposite days reminded me that being the parent of a toddler is hard, but it’s nothing really compared to how hard it is to be a toddler. Eden is learning new things every day and dealing with new emotions, feelings and new things in the world around her daily. I think about how I feel after a day of learning new things or a day when I’m particularly tired and I understand a little better. She’s not doing it on purpose. She’s just being a toddler. When it goes right it’s awesome, but when it goes wrong it feels like all the air has been sucked out of you and you’re floundering around thinking “I don’t know how to deal with this…” But I try to take the advice of Dory and “Just keep swimming…” Toddlers have good days and bad days just like adults, and that is ok!