Dear Customers of ASDA Stafford,
Yesterday my daughter, Miss Rose, threw the most almighty tantrum. You know, you saw, and I am so very sorry.
She kicked, she screamed. She clawed and thrashed, flung herself backwards and raged. She foamed at the mouth and screamed until she was sick. She grabbed things from shelves, she ran away, she lay on the ground in the middle of aisles wailing. For half an hour she made your shopping experience painful. She got in your way, disrupted your shopping experience, made your ears hurt, and generally caused your day to be a less pleasant one than when you first arrived. I am so very sorry.
Miss Rose is not a bad child. She really isn’t. She is strong willed, she is smart and strong, and she is two years old. But she is not bad. She’s a good girl who on occasions has tantrums, but not usually as bad as yesterday. Yesterday was bad. Yesterday was hard.
Some of you glared, and I understand why, it can’t be pleasant. Some of you tutted. Some of you growled that I ought to “get control” of her. I tried. I honestly tried. But I was at my wit’s end. I couldn’t pick her up without risking damage to her and those around her and I wasn’t going to smack her. I know that is what some of you wanted me to do.
I don’t believe in violence. I don’t believe in teaching Miss Rose that if things aren’t going her way then she should hit the person she blames. I don’t believe in teaching Miss Rose that if she is angry, frustrated or tired that she should hit the person she blames. I don’t believe that teaching Miss Rose you never hit people will ever be a successful message if I am hitting her. I cannot and I will not. Perhaps if I had smacked her there in the aisle she would have fallen into line, been cowed into behaving herself, driven by fear and pain. Perhaps she would avoid tantrumming like that again to avoid another smack. But then what have I become? I have become a source of pain and fear in her life and that is something I never want to be. So yes, it means some of you have a disrupted day, and it means I am embarrassed and exhausted to the point of tears, but that is preferable to me.
Also, please be aware, that giving me the comments about my lack of parenting skills and my child’s poor behaviour was hard for me. It hurt. I cried and I feel myself wanting to cry now. I am not a bad mum, and I do not have a bad child. I was on the tipping point of not being able to cope. I was exhausted, I was emotionally vulnerable, and I was feeling hopeless. Comments like yours pushed me to the edge and nearly broke me. Next time you see a parent in the same state as I was please don’t comment. Please. Feel angry if you feel it, feel annoyed or frustrated, even think about what a terrible parent they are if you think that is true. But please don’t comment. It doesn’t help. It makes things worse.
To those of you who just ignored her and me, stepped around me as I sat on the floor with my heads in my hands whilst my child thrashed around like a rabid dog beside me, I am grateful. Thank you. I know you suffered as much as those who complained but I am so grateful you pretended not to. I don’t know if you were thinking the same as those who commented but if you did I understand and appreciate your silence more than you can know.
Then there were others. There were people of all ages who, when the angry people had pushed me down further offered me a gentle hand to pull me up. An elderly lady approached me, her face serious, and I dreaded what was to happen.
“It’s okay love, I’ve got three of my own and two grandchildren, they all do it. It’s really hard sometimes, isn’t it?” she said to me.
Yes. Yes it is. It really is. That lady, that kind lady, gave me a moment of mother to mother, human to human, kindness. Understanding, respect, and reassurance. Yes it is very bloody hard sometimes. Thank you.
Then there was the shop assistant. A lovely, kind woman who was working further down the aisle and quietly approached me, asked if she could do anything. She didn’t make a scene, didn’t give me any judgment or criticism. Simply asked if she could help. Offered to carry my bag or fetch me a trolley, told me her own children had done it many times and sometimes it just needs an extra pair of hands if I wanted them. I did. She helped. I wanted to hug her.
So customers, staff, everyone at ASDA Stafford yesterday who had to endure my daughter’s meltdown, I am genuinely sorry. If you could see her now, sat on the sofa next to me, happily eating toast with chocolate spread smeared across her face, giggling and chattering, you would see she is not a bad child. She is a good child. Good, kind, funny and loving. But she is two and sometimes she behaves badly. But she won’t always. She will grow up and when she sees a woman sat on the floor in the supermarket crying because her toddler has pushed her to the edge, she will be a kind face. She will be a reassuring hand and an understanding smile. Do you know why? Because I’m bloody well going to tell her what a little terror she was.
Love Me, a tired but happy mum to an exhausting terrible two year old.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!