Social media has been obsessed by toddlers throwing tantrums lately. The discussion seems to have been ignited by that woman who got chucked out of John Lewis a couple of weeks ago, because her two-year-old threw the kind of wobbler that two-year-olds are good at. You know, the nuclear meltdowns that nothing on earth could stop.
Anyone would think that it’s news that children are experts at embarrassing their parents.
Much as we love them, they were born to leave us blushing in mortification as often as possible.
This is something any new mother on maternity leave discovers when she visits her workplace with her baby - who proceeds to make sure he leaves a deposit of regurgitated milk on the boss’s shoulder.
As the parent of three young boys, my experience of motherhood has at times involved lurching from one cringe-worthy moment to the next.
We had one this weekend, when my three-year-old was invited to the birthday party of one of his little friends, at a soft play centre.
Despite being inseparable buddies with the girl at nursery, in the presence of her extended family he decided he’d prefer to disown her entirely. Pretend never met her before in his life.
He was happy to make use of the soft play facilities on his own, you understand – the ones the birthday girl’s parents had PAID FOR. But join in the games? Blow out the candles? Say ‘happy birthday’? No chance.
This was not an isolated incident. Moments of teeth-gritting exasperation have happened regularly in the ten years since I had my first child.
And I can assure you they don’t stop with the toddlers.
I will never forget the faces of fellow swimmers in our local pool’s changing rooms when my middle child, aged four, decided to have the loudest conversation imaginable – about the curious differences between the male and female anatomy.
This wasn’t just an abstract conversation – it involved pointing at the woman opposite and describing in fine detail the shape, size of just about everything, while I hissed ‘SSHHHH!’
Then there was the holiday we had in France, when my eldest, then six, declared: ‘Mummy has just had a REALLY BIG CRAP.’
‘I have not,’ I replied, horrified.
‘You have!’ he protested. ‘You said you enjoyed it so much you wanted another one.’
‘He means CREPE,’ my other half pointed out, but by this time I was already running for the cover of the car park.
Still, there is one consolation and that’s that one day they’ll all become teenagers. By then, I’ll only have to exist to embarrass them.
It's all in the eyes (or how to master the 'hard stare')