It has taken 7 years, 7 months and 16 days of being a parent for me to finally experience the horror of a public tantrum. And, boy, was it worth the wait!
I had the idea, stupidly as it turns out, that it would be rather nice to have a little one-to-one time with my youngest in the city whilst the big kids were at school. His feet have grown significantly since we were last able to enter a shoe shop and so I thought it would be fun to go and get his feet measured and choose some new trainers to run about in and perhaps a pair of sandals for when summer eventually decides to arrive.
Collecting him from nursery, I excitedly told him that we were going on a shoe shop adventure and he happily bounced his way into the car. Well, I say bounced his way in, he did, but only after he’d changed his mind several times over where he wanted to sit. With the others out of the equation, the choice of seating was clearly overwhelming, and he revelled in the decision-making process.
Once buckled into his seat of choice – the front one next to me – we made our merry way into the city, my son yabbering excitedly the whole time. The shoe shop is conveniently located directly opposite a set of blue badge spaces, and we miraculously managed to nab one of those – thank goodness, with my legs as they are!
I hobbled into the store with a firm grip on my son’s hood, which happens to serve just as well as a lead as it does protection from the rain, and we were greeted by a very friendly assistant who directed us to the kid’s zone. All was going well as we browsed the shoes on display, until my son clocked a shoe that he liked and clung onto it with a stubborn grip that was going to be near impossible to break. I hadn’t intended to buy actual shoes but was willing to concede on this occasion because he seemed so pleased with his choice.
The trouble is, shoe shops don’t always have all the sizes in stock, and sure enough, the assistant came out of the stockroom carrying a teetering pile of boxes containing a variety of shoes in my son’s size, none of which were the pair he wanted.
I tried to encourage him to try a pair on, but he was having none of it. Within seconds of being told that he couldn’t have the shoes he wanted he stomped his feet and threw himself onto the floor, face down, arms and legs flailing, and let out an almighty scream, swiftly followed by a series of sobs, wails and shouts. My son was in full tantrum mode, the likes of which I have never encountered from my children. The poor shop assistant just hovered nearby, holding a box of unwanted shoes and looking very much like she didn’t want to be there. On the bench next to us an impeccably behaved family failed to resist the urge to gawp whilst pretending not to notice the theatrics that were playing out just metres away. And I stood there, completely stunned and not knowing what to do. You see, when you’re in public you can’t flip a lid, but flipping a lid was precisely what I felt like doing. And so, I continued to stand there for a while looking lost and inwardly willing my child to snap out of it.
It was clear that we were not going to be able to proceed with the shoe buying process, so I relieved the shop assistant from the trauma and tried to persuade my son to get back up. This is where face masks come in handy, with half my face covered no-one could make out the expletives I was uttering in between the calm encouragement.
The way I saw it, I had 2 options. I could perform the classic ‘I’m going to leave without you’ act, or I could grab hold of his hood and drag him kicking and screaming across the shop floor and back out to the car. Well, I certainly didn’t have the energy for the latter, and so I made my way slowly, but firmly, out of the door. It was at this point that the stress of the situation kicked my MS into action, my legs tightened, my hands began screaming with tingles and my bladder did what my bladder does best – as you know, my bladder is as good at dealing with stress as an ice cube is at dealing with heat. Incidentally, I also don’t respond too well to heat! I could do nothing but hide behind the door and wait with my fingers (and my legs) tightly crossed.
It worked! At least, it got my son moving until he spotted me and then he was instantly back on the floor screaming some more. I can barely remember how I got him back into the car, my head was screaming as much as my body with the stress of it all. But I must have got him home somehow because home is where we are – exhausted …
… and shoeless.