Thursday, 12 February 2009

Losing It*

My friend from school came up to me this morning, and before you laugh, yes, I have a friend, we've bonded over finding the whole talking outside the school thing quite challenging. So in true friendship fashion we sit each morning in our respective (warm) cars and ignore each other and everyone else until we absolutely have to get out. Only then do we chance a quick smile and chat as we usher in our children.
Anyway, she looked worried. Just this morning, she confided through the corner of her mouth, she'd lost it with her boys. Shouted. Screamed. And get this she whispered, thrown all their toys out of the window. The fear was palpable, the light sweat on her forehead belying the cool exterior of the mummy-out-and-about.Fair enough this was good going for before 9am, but really, toys out the window? That's nothing! I've torn heads off Barbies, thrown perfectly good princess tippy toe shoes in the bin, thrown toys out of the car window (there's a lot of throwing it feels really good), made an Easter egg sandwich and thrown (yes) it onto the table shouting 'there's you bloody dinner, happy now?' And before you phone social services, I don't know any mother that hasn't done similar things.It's just what happens, it doesn't do the children any harm (well none that they can't see a therapist about later on), in fact, we tell ourselves, it's good for them to see that mummy has a line (a good line in throwing especially).
I was listening to an awful, pompous man on the radio the other day and he was chatting to a woman who was worried about losing it with her sons, apparently she shouts at them. Shouts. Okaaay, I was waiting for the next bit but there wasn't one. Shouts? That's nothing! I've.. (see earlier list). Anyway the point of this bit is that the pompous I've-never-stayed-at-home-on-my-own-with-the-children-day-after-day-while-other-people-get-to-be-citizens-of-the-world man asked her is if she would ever lose it public, say in Boots? No, she replied, well then he said, you can control it. Sorry? The taste of chalk and cheese stuck painfully in my throat. Boots? But there are so many more options available in Boots. Shelves and shelves of things to accidentally sweep to the floor (I've managed a whole aisle), shopkeepers to smile at as you drag your child away from the teletubby bubble bath into the corner for a good shouting at. In fact you can feel like a good mummy in Boots (and it doesn't have to be Boots either, I've done it lots of times in Thorntons). Look, you are saying as you raise you voice without embarrassment, I'm a zero tolerance mummy, I stand up to my children and Lay Down The Law. Hoorah for me, you won't be seeing me on Super Nanny, (though you're hoping that they didn't see last Summer's episode that you starred in, and have obviously failed at miserably hence the Boots/Thorntons tantrum).
You see, when you're out in public it's not other people that stop you losing it and carrying out bizarre and, let's face it, pretty stupid punishments (it took me ages to glue Barbie's head back on, and Easter egg sandwiches have had to become part of the weekly menu), it's that other people mean company, freedom, space. A good disciplining can be admired, taken note of, I'll try that shouting-in-the-corner-thing myself you can hear people thinking, I'd look really good doing that. At home there is nobody around to admire your handiwork, and nowhere else to go but bizarre. Four walls leave you with no option , when you've tried everything else, sometimes you have to lose it, let it go, take it out on Barbie (you never liked her anyway), do whatever it takes to lose control without actually losing control. It's the only way. And if you don't agree then you don't have children.
My brother in law, Alec, has been staying with us for the last few days and I haven't lost it once. Not because I'm being polite, we know each other far too well, but because I've had some company. I don't mean to insult Isla and Jack here, they're lovely company, but it's been nice to have some that I didn't also have to feed/wipe/bath/nappy (although it's been close, he's not that domesticated). He's been someone to chat to (at), he's played with the children while I 'got on with things' (oh how blissful to actually get on with it all), he's played with Jack to stop him crying instead of me holding him in one arm, pushing the dummy in with the other and stirring the sauce with my toes. He's even read stories, made mud pies, tickled, played 'you can't catch me' for two hours and generally entertained in the manner of Koko the Klown all day. It's been great, everyone should have a visitor that isn't child-jaded (it took him going to South Korea for a year but still). It has, in a nutshell, been blissful. And it's going to carry on for sometime, I've hidden his passport.

*Reposted for Fiona, with love

18 comments:

Tara@Sticky Fingers said...

I've actually been in Tesco and had to take my daughter over to one side and really tell her off, then when we got to the checkout the woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said 'I thought you handled that beautifully'.
I swelled to unnatural proportions and then turned around to see my daughter climbing on the window ledge with her legs in the air and everything on show for all to see.
Ah, yes, proud moments!

Blossom Mouse said...

A perfect post! Thought provoking, funny and spot on!

I have taken your words on board as my two seem to know that being in public means they can get away with murder. It's like Sainsbury's has a no-extradition policy. I'm taking on the UN and changing that!

jinksy said...

Sounds like the perfect visitor you have there. If you could clone hum, you'd make a fortune.
While I'm here, can I put in a plea for paragraphs? I got out of breath having to read this post all in one go... XXX

Potty Mummy said...

Fabulous - as ever.

HER ON THE HILL said...

Wha d'ya mean, lose it? How can you possibly lose it with your little angels? I mean, I never, EVER lose it. NEVER EVER EVER BLOODY EVER LOSE IT! CHRIST, I LOVE MY KIDS!! THEY'VE NEVER MISBEHAVED IN SHOPS AND MADE ME GET A PARKING FINE OR MADE ME LATE OR EMBARRASSED ME IN PUBLIC OR MADE ME HATE MYSELF FOR LOSING IT!!! GOD, THEY'RE SAINTS, SAINTS, SAINTS AND I LOVE SPENDING EVERY WAKING HOUR WITH THEM!!!! I NEVER SCREAM AT THEM OR SHUT THEM IN CUPBOARDS OR HURL STUFF ACROSS ROOMS OR..OR...OR..(exit stage left, mouth foaming, hair on fire)

ps, can I borrow Alec for a month or two?

Mud in the City said...

Brilliant. I'm impressed that you stay sane enough to keep your sense of humour and write such excellent prose!

Clare W said...

Ha ha - Mr Woody is the threatened disciplinarian in my house (he's a wooden spoon OK?). It's such a good job we don't live in Scotland!

The Dotterel said...

Pulled the head of Barbie, merely? Sally put hers on the barbecue. (I think it was a lexicographical misappropriation!)

auntiegwen said...

Clarks shoe shop, the day before term starts, every feckin time.

It's in my room 101, it is so the worst thing in the world for me, I think it was my 2nd post ever as a blogger, it goes that deep.

Tawny said...

I too have lost it, sometimes you just have too, I have also felt the guilt as her face crumples afterwards. As for that bloke on the radio, my sister and I have the perfect phrase.....Sod him!

nappy valley girl said...

I am always losing it. There's something about my toddlers that makes me behave like a toddler myself - screaming, stamping my foot and going puce with fury.
I love the easter egg sandwich story. After a particularly fraught mealtime the other day I came quite close to pouring an entire yoghurt over Littleboy 1's head (because he had suddenly decided, once it was open, that he doesn't like apricot flavour.....)

The Coffee Lady said...

from someone who terrified a four year old so much this afternoon that she hid in a locker at the swimming pool and refused to come out, I am so very with you on this one

mothership said...

I suspect that one never stops shouting at ones offspring or throwing things. My own mother who is 66 threw all of our clean laundry into her swimming pool when we visited her last year because she could not stand one more bowl of cheerios knocked on to her dining room floor (it could also be connected to the entire bottle of Chardonnay she had sucked down during the evening news, but I digress).
Yesterday Four said to me wonderingly "You know there are some mommies who never shout at their children".
I felt awful for about a minute before I remembered that this was PROPAGANDA so I set her straight and told her that all mommies shout at their children, it's just that some of us do it in supermarkets and some of us do it in cars and some of us do it at home where other children can't see. But we all shout, it's part of being a mum, like the instant growth of the eyes in the back of your head.

Nicola said...

I saw a headless doll and a barbie head lying in the middle of the road today - and thought of how much this post made me laugh. The body and the head were in no way related and were obviously casualties of yet another mother's sense of humour failure on the school run. I spend most of my time 'talking' at foghorn decibels that I think I've forgotten what my normal voice even sounds like. If it turns out the boys are hearing impaired then I know what will have been the cause...

Nunhead Mum of One said...

Brilliant! And it made me feel much better!

Grit said...

i tell my kids that it is not the falling out that matters. we can discount the raging, temper tantruming, kicking the kitchen bin, slamming doors, tearing at hair... none of that matters. it is the making up that counts. (and that's the only way out of my behaviour i've ever found.)

Ladybird World Mother said...

I love this... yeh for honesty! All mothers shout. Not all mothers tell others they do. Nice one.

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