The Zone – Where Parents Fear to Tread

The other day the tiny lady begged to go to the park. We were due at our weekly Gymboree class (which she normally loves) so I asked if she would like to go dance and sing instead. I was greeted to a very determined no and lots of ‘park’, ‘park’!! As it was so sunny- and in Ireland this is such a rare thing- I gave in and off to the park we went. It was full of other little people which didn’t please my little lady one bit. You mean I actually have to share the slide?? She wasn’t too impressed when she noticed a mother and her little girl on the swing we usually occupy. In her world this swing (like me, her pooh bear and beep beeps) belongs very much to her. But, surprisingly, she didn’t get as bothered as she could have been. She found other things to amuse herself.

She was just sitting down to drive a wooden car when another toddler descended on her. He tried to push her out of the seat and I tried (as nicely as possible) to explain that it wasn’t his turn. Inside I was praying his parent would appear soon. I don’t like having to correct other peoples’ children as I would be mortified if someone had to correct mine. I know this is the subject of some online debate and naturally if I saw a child doing something totally out of line I would intervene. But what to do with a toddler who just doesn’t get the concept of sharing? I couldn’t pull him gently but firmly off the car. Dilemma! Thankfully – I am such a chicken – my tiny lady had had enough of his antics and got up herself to do something else. But that wasn’t to be the last we saw of him. He followed us. He followed us to the swing. To the slide. To the swing again. In his defence he mostly just wanted to play but my lady was having none of it.

Finally when I tried to explain (for the tenth time ) that I was okay to push the swing by myself his harassed looking mother appeared. I waved away her apologies as she tried to frantically pull him off us. But every time she turned her back, to tend to her new baby, he would bounce back over. I attempted to reassure her that all toddlers had these days (or weeks in my case) but she had entered The Zone; as a fellow fully-paid up member of The Zone I could only sympathise. You enter The Zone when your child has pushed you to your outer limits and you have been publicly humiliated over and over again. You feel as if every other parent is judging you and your parenting skills. Trust me they aren’t; like me they are probably just delighted it’s not happening to them again.

It is tough parenting a toddler and I imagine it is especially tough when you have a new baby along for the ride. I am blessed to only have one to tend to right now and my heart went out to that mother as she tried to reason with her tot. We are so hard on ourselves especially in vulnerable situations like parks where other parents seem to have it all sorted and yours in the only child screaming the place down. But nobody else really has it figured out either, you are just seeing them during the one calm moment of their day. So next time your child melts down in public remind yourself that it happens to everyone and that the majority of parents feel your pain. This is easier said than done and I’m still working on it. But I’m hopeful someday I’ll pick up my screaming toddler, throw her casually over my shoulder, smile brightly and continue on with my day. Wish me luck!

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