I remember speaking to my sister just over a year ago. Her three-year-old was throwing a nuclear-sized tantrum, after being made to get out of the car, and come inside.
‘You can’t stay in there all day,’ my sister tried to explain. She ran though a list of logical reasons, before blurting in desperation: ‘You might be kidnapped.’
‘I want to be kidnapped,’ her daughter screeched at the top of her lungs. ‘I WANT TO BE KIDNAPPED!’
I watched on, both fascinated and horrified by the sheer power of the melt-down.
‘Wait till your one starts throwing tantrums,’ my sister warned me.
‘She won’t,’ I replied confidently. ‘She’s my little angel!’
And she was – a teeny little thing, with huge brown eyes, and a cheeky smile that warmed you from the inside out. She was sweet, and friendly, and funny.
‘She’ll turn,’ my sister muttered ominously. ‘They always do…’
Now, with deepest regret, I must concede that she was right. For my angel’s wings have well and truly fallen off.
That’s not to say Lucia’s a bad kid – she’s still kind, and quirky, and utterly adorable. But there are also times when my little girl turns into a total ‘Todzilla’.
The other day I took her to the local soft play venue and let her loose, while a friend and I caught up over a coffee. She had a blast, running around, mucking about with the other kids.
After two and half hours (and no afternoon nap) I figured she’d be suitably worn out. Turns out I’d underestimated the eternal energy stores of the toddler.
My friend had left, and I was holding the baby, so my powers of restraint were limited – and Lucia knew it. When asked to get into the pushchair, she ran in the other direction instead.
None of the usual tricks worked. I tried bribing with Agent Oso cartoons. No reaction. I reminded her that Daddy was at home waiting to see us. Not interested. I threatened her with the naughty spot. She couldn’t have cared less.
After chasing her around for 20 minutes I realised she was not going to respond to diplomacy. The time to talk was over. It was time for Plan B – brute force.
After asking the woman at the front desk to watch over bubs, I grabbed Lucia by the hand and tried to lead her away. She responded by turning her body into jelly and collapsing on to the floor. I tried to pull her up, but she hung at the end of my hand like dead weight. I could see by the look in her eye she’d sooner have dislocated her own shoulder, than give in.
So I grabbed her round the middle and lifted her up, careful to avoid the Kung-Fu kicks and flailing arms. ‘No no no no no no no no!!!’ she screeched.
Of course, by now EVERYONE was watching me, like I was the blinkin’ ‘Movie of the Week’.
I carried her to the pushchair, and sat her on the seat. She slid off it like a knob of butter on a hot pan. I hoisted her back up, and she turned her body into a rigid iron bar that refused to bend in the middle. Sweating with sheer exertion, I managed to pin her down long enough to get the arms straps on her.
Finally, she was secured. I was completely frazzled.
The moment she realised the game was up, Lucia stopped fighting and settled back, as calm as you like.
‘Juice?’ she asked, with a dazzling grin, as if nothing had even happened.
And, just like that, my angel was back… for the moment, at least…