06 Feb What will the neighbours think?
Let there be no misunderstanding, I adore my three year old. He is kind, helpful and a wonderful sibling to his big sister and little brother. He is on the whole a lovely little boy. He listens well and does as his is asked (by and large). He has his cheeky moments, though frankly they are more funny than naughty (keeping a straight face while disciplining at times like that is a real challenge). I am extremely proud of him. There are times, however, when he completely loses the plot.
We live in a terraced house on a quiet north London street. Well we did until approximately 7.45am this morning when that calm was pierced by the screaming of my three year old son. And when I say screaming I don’t mean some half-hearted bleating. I mean full on guttural howling.
The howling had started when I foolishly thought aloud to myself as to whether we should drive to nursery or walk that morning (usually the only way of managing the various drop offs in the morning is by strapping the children in the car, whizzing around north London throwing them out the door with their rucksacks and coats as we approach their respective school/childcare). As many of you I am sure have experienced, even giving the slightest hint that there may be choices is a terrible idea with a small child. And even more so at 7.30 in the morning when you are in a hurry. Mistake number one.
So the wailing started because he wanted to go in the car. It continued for another 15 minutes as I made the toast, brushed teeth and got the buggy and bags sorted. So, 7.45am two children ready to go and one sitting on the stairs wailing. Hmm. What to do? So I tried the “if you don’t come now we will go without you” (probably incredibly psychologically damaging, but all I could think of at that moment). That got him down the stairs and in shoes. Hurrah!
That was when I made my second mistake. I tried to put on his coat. Standing in the doorstep with him howling and shouting, all I kept thinking was “Christ, what must the neighbours be thinking?” (Actually I have a fairly good idea of what they were thinking and it probably went along the lines of “shut your screaming child up!” Maybe with a few more expletives). So I tried to reason with my son that it was not nice to make so much noise and disturb other people’s morning like this, that there are other people on the street that who might not be up yet. Obviously, being three years old and mid-meltdown, this was completely ineffective as a method of calming him down. (Though I hope at least some of my neighbours may have heard me trying to reason with him and appreciated the gesture …hmmm.)
It was at about this point that I started to lose my shit. Twenty minutes of being screamed at, that morning, was my breaking point. I got cross. Offering cuddles and toast hadn’t worked so I resorted to threats. No treat at pick up time, not allowed on the buggy board, I will take away his toys, no more CBeebies, ever (this is the stupidest one – definitely harming me and my husband more than him), etc. You get the idea. At this point, frankly, I was just waiting for social services to show up.
In the midst of this, I turned to my daughter and thanked her for being such a good girl. Immediately the howling stopped. “And I am being a good boy?” Asks my three year old. “No” I say, “you are not. You are usually a very good boy but screaming at me for nearly half an hour is not nice behaviour”. “I wasn’t screaming” he says. Daughter and I exchange stunned looks “if you weren’t then who was?” I ask. “I don’t know” he says. And with that, the crisis is over.
Another 50 yards down the road my three year old and I are having a lovely cuddle, peace and harmony restored to our little family. Unfortunately by this point we are no longer in range of our neighbours. They will never know that it all ended ok. I hope those with children will just know that it eventually would end and harmony be returned. And will forgive us for the horrendous noise in between.
(To note, no children were harmed in the production of this post – the pictures were staged.)