Daddy vs Chips XI
Though the twins are not yet two, the ‘terrible twos’, it appears, are upon us. Though the tears and tantrums started some time ago, over the last two weeks I have been introduced to a new terror: The Tantrum In Public.
The Tantrum In Public (TTIP) is like a classic 70s horror film. The audience is only afforded glimpses of the monster for the majority of the movie; the occasional bite or scream building tension until the inevitable reveal. When it eventually appears in the final reel, the monster is terrifying: a red-faced ball of flailing limbs, gnashing teeth and blood-shot eyes. Like in a Stephen King novel, when a TTIP occurs there is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. As a parent, you are alone. Trapped by the monster on one side and the glares of passers-by on the other.
Many classic horror movies have sequels. In the worst of these, the directors simply remakes the same movie with a fresh cast of victims. In parenting terms, TTIP 2 is bad enough. However, the best horror sequels change the dynamic of the film dramatically. James Cameron, looking to improve on Ridley Scott’s Alien, increased the number of bad guys and gave his movie the tagline ‘This time its war’. The TTIP has a wondrously inventive sequel, its tagline is ‘This time its at a toddler group.’
A tantrum at a toddler group is the worst thing ever. Though I know (and have been repeatedly told by “helpful” fellow parents) that this happens to everyone, I cannot bring myself to really believe this. When one of the twins wails over a stolen toy car, or bangs their head on the floor at the concept of queuing for the slide it feels as if everyone in the room is looking at you over the heads of their perfectly calm children. As the only dad at nearly every playgroup I attend, this feels even more isolating. ‘Look at that guy,’ I imagine people are saying ‘he cannot control those kids at all’.
In all honesty, how can one control TTIP? The normal tantrum strategies of ignoring it or giving them space only serves to make one look bewildered, cold and less in control. Creating a distraction is difficult with the limited resources of a baby bag and a second twin to keep a constant eye on. At just under two they are too young to talk about their emotions, and a hug often requires you to dodge punches faster than Anthony Joshua. The simplest solution, unfortunately, is often to just to give up and go home.
So whats a fella to do? To avoid wallowing in my own version of The Shining, I’ve devised some strategies I will use to try to combat TTIPs:
- Grow a thicker skin and tough it out – So what if people think I’m a crap parent, I know my kids are lovely (most of the time).
- Attend smaller playgroups – Most of the tantrums seem to occur at larger, overstimulating groups that have too many kids in a small space.
- Get fresh air – Taking the tantrumer out of the entire situation does seem to calm them down. As a bonus, people in cars driving past cannot hear their screams.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help – With twins this is really important, especially if I want to employ the above strategy. Fellow parents and play leaders are not really judging you and are often only too happy to watch twin a whilst you whisk twin b away.
- Always have a supply of drinks and snacks to hand – This is the only distraction I have found to be feasible. I just need to be more organised.
And so to the result:
Chips win! And very resoundingly so. But hopefully the strategies above will help me fightback like Neve Campbell in the Scream franchise.
How do you deal with TTIPs? Any help would be greatly appreciated.