Ever Felt Humiliated and Embarrassed by Your Children?

Well, lets be honest, whenever I am out I feel humiliated and embarrassed about 50% of the time. My children are unique to say the least, they have literally aged me ten years. I end up wandering around like some sort of mad bag lady. You see, Toddler boy is the most miserable little fella you will come across about 60% of the time. He is shy beyond belief, scowls at people all the time and heaven forbid any stranger should attempt to talk to him. Fifi on the other hand, well, she only wants food and her mummy, so that’s not too much of a problem. I don’t know if it is because she is a little girl but I do feel bonded to her in an entirely different way to Toddler boy. It could be to do with all the difficulties I have had with him, the breath holding from 3 weeks, the slightly traumatic birth with 5 midwifes and a doctor and the depression I felt. I don’t know.

Anyway, each week I take them both to the fabulous Mish Mash Music which I cannot rate highly enough. It’s lead by the lovely Ruth who plays her drums or guitar and really does a great job of keeping the toddlers entertained whilst teaching them about music. That’s most of the toddlers, for the last few weeks Toddler boy has decided that despite actively asking for impromptu Mish Mash sessions at home, he does not want to join in with the sessions. He runs around, climbs on chair and behaves like a demon child. I find this frustrating as Fifi really enjoys herself and I can’t concentrate on one or the other of them. It’s also disruptive. For this I can only apologise. I am cringing from the tips of my toes to my eyeballs. If any other child did this, I would be wondering about the parenting.

Anyhow, today was the final straw. Toddler boy refused to join in, rather he sat in the pushchair screaming “mummmeeeeeee, mummmmmmmm, MUMEEEE”. The humiliation. I decided to ignore this. Then he stood up, tipped the pushchair over and fell over the back ” Bahhhhhh”. Cue lots of wailing. Another mum ran over to help. Big mistake, we are talking about Toddler boy here, the shyest boy in the land. Interaction with other humans is enough to tip him further over the edge. Internally, I felt yet another little part of me give up with any parenting strategy for him and another little part of what I once was died. I picked him up and took him outside to try to calm the frankly, belligerent little fella down. “no, don’t want to” was all he said. He revels in misery, this one. I stood there wondering if it was all my fault. Have I done something so wrong that God has chosen to punish me. I feel mean, but I really am getting to the end of my tether with this. I spend a lot of the time thinking I just want to run away and live quietly alone. With cats. And chickens. And husband (as long as he is quiet). And the sea, to look at, in a manner similar to the French Lieutenant’s Woman.

Whilst outside I suddenly became aware of another scream. Yes, as I had left the room Fifi decided that she wanted mummy. I dragged Toddler boy back inside to find slight chaos, caused entirely by my own children. Yet another class disrupted. I’m so sorry Ruth. I took the decision to drag them both outside, without their jumpers and try to get them back to the car as fast as possible. “No don’t want to” was all that Toddler boy would say. Fifi would not stop crying. I wrestled them into the car, in the knowledge that they would both be heading to the childminders for another settling in session. The old people who commented about my children as they were passing by the car did not help my state of mind. God help the childminder.

I dropped them off at the childminder, both sobbing and clinging to my legs. The poor woman looked a little bit concerned. Inside my head I did feel a tiny bit of relief, a moment of peace and clarity a chance to sit in a darkened room. I think I will get called quite soon to pick them up. What am I going to do when I go back to work?

So in summary, I’d like tips please. How do I deal with Toddler Boy? Do you feel humiliated? What makes you feel better, other than chocolate? Should I take him back to music class ever again? When did you get your life back? Why, Oh why, did I have children?

I wrote to Ruth and mentioned my blog post and she wrote back with this really lovely reply. I think it might help some other people too:

You get your life back when they turn about 4… My little one (now 7) is now a good friend and treasured companion. It started when he reached about 4 ish, and things have just got better and better.

Although it may feel that you are the only one to have your child fall out of their buggy screaming “mummy mummy”…if you were to have come along to my classes over the years you would see similar stories playing out between mums and little ones… the props are different, but the general gist is the same.
I know it seemed really bad to you, but it didn’t disrupt the group much and didn’t upset me.
Here is my philosophy on kids who are doing their own thing in a way some might see as ‘not joining in’ at the classes, worked out over the years…
I really feel kids have a right to be themselves… and if that is where a child is, then it’s O.K by me. I try to allow for as much freedom as possible in the classes, and where there are kids who are doing their own thing, I only have two questions I try to remind parents of:
1. are they getting something out of this experience in their own way? So if they are listening, or dancing, or shaking something even if it’s not what everyone else is doing, then that’s fine by me. (I reckon he was listening for a while, and then needed some attention, and I know Fifi was enjoying it.)
2. Are they disrupting the group?… look around. Is any other child copying your child or are they all just engrossed in their own thing?… don’t worry about the mums (easier said than done I know). In your case today, I didn’t think that toddler boy was disrupting things for others. It was just unlucky he fell out of the buggy!
On a personal note, I remember times when I felt I didn’t want to stay in a group, either because I didn’t like my son’s behaviour, or because he was clearly having a day when he couldn’t handle being in a group. I wish I had had the courage more of the time to just get up and go. You did… because it felt right to you. So, well done.
I really really don’t think any of the mums were thinking you a bad parent… we have all (or nearly all) been through it at one time or another. You are a lovely mum, and that comes across very clearly. It’s also so clear to me, from many years of being a music teacher and watching siblings come through the classes, that much as we would like to blame/ commend ourselves for how our children turn out, they are largely their own people. I see so many loving parents struggling with this… not only dealing a spirited or delicate child, but also blaming themselves for the child they are working so hard to love.
So… come back if you want. Leave when you don’t want to stay, know that this phase will pass, and realise that as long as you keep the love and acceptance coming as much as you can, how toddler boy behaves is just based on the little soul he is, an not a mirror of you as a parent. And PLEASE… please send me this email back when my number two child reaches the same age, and I am feeling exactly the same way you are today.

14 Responses

  1. Then There Were Three 28th October 2009 / 12:07 pm

    OMG! Sounds very fraught. I cant offer any advice on this one, but you have my sympathies xx

  2. april 28th October 2009 / 12:18 pm

    Oh dear – first, breathe deeply, many times. I feel much more bonded with my second child than my first. No idea why, second i can be more patient with, is easier all round, first has always been difficult.<br>It is AWFUL when you child throws public fits, but remember that anyone else who has ever had a child will understand, it is rare to have a child that does not throw a fit at some point. My

  3. Cafe Bebe 28th October 2009 / 12:18 pm

    Oh dear, my little one! You&#39;re struggling aren&#39;t you? I don&#39;t quite know what to say as I don&#39;t have the experience of this to give me wisdom. But, all I can say is take a deep breath, look at your children while they are sleeping and remember that they are really wonderful even if they drive you to distraction. While looking at them when they are sleeping, perhaps a glass of

  4. Liz@Violet Posy 28th October 2009 / 12:21 pm

    I used to take DD when she was a tiny baby to sing and sign. All lovely until she hit 6 months old and started walking, by 7 months she was tearing round the room running and stealing keys, toys, bottles from the other babies while they sat and cried. Cue other Mummy&#39;s giving me filthy looks, ignoring me and muttering a lot 🙁 In the end I stopped taking her, bless it wasn&#39;t her fault

  5. 20somethingmum 28th October 2009 / 1:07 pm

    Why Oh why is there always an old person lurking when our kids are naughty? I was in Sainsburys with Chrissy about a month ago, and she was having a moan in her buggy, and this old croan came over tutting away and told me off for being a crap mother, telling me I should have more control over her. My answer was to tell her to sod off, and ask if she suggested I should gag my child to please her?

  6. TheMadHouse 28th October 2009 / 1:34 pm

    It can be so humiliating when they decide to kick off in public. My two have dont it on many occasions and I too have wanted the ground to swallow me whole at that very moment.<br><br>I have found three to be a very trying year with both the boys. I remember telling people that MaxiMad was &quot;headstrong&quot; and &quot;independent minded&quot; when he wouldn&#39;t conform at Music Class!!<br

  7. Jennysnail 28th October 2009 / 2:16 pm

    Poor you – I&#39;ve had similar problems with my boys – youngest in particular. My solution would be to arrange to go without toddler boy if baby enjoys it and you still want to take her. Drop him at Grandparents or childminder. I know this is avoiding the problem but that&#39;s the way I would handle it – I don&#39;t claim to be a good parent so maybe you can find some better advice! We still

  8. Metropolitan Mum 28th October 2009 / 3:06 pm

    Thank you. I feel the same. I only want to sit in darkened rooms all day at the moment. Wailing and whinging are her current favourite past times, and I think I&#39;ll be deaf anytime soon.

  9. Mark 28th October 2009 / 3:26 pm

    My second son was painfully shy and clingy to his mum – then later to me. He hated nursery so much we removed him; dozens of times he had scenes similar to the one you descriibed.<br><br>And you know what, he turned into a great kid – popular, breezy, a show off. Just took time, though the waiting was hard at times.<br><br>Something we did, that may or may not apply in your case, when we had two

  10. miss leslieanne 28th October 2009 / 9:43 pm

    I&#39;m much to new to the whole parenting lark to offer any advice – but what I will say, is I bet all the other mums were only thinking &#39;oh thank god it&#39;s not my little angel this time&#39; – because I bet it happens to everyone eventually.<br><br>big hugs xx

  11. Jo 28th October 2009 / 11:14 pm

    With our two I try to set expectations about behaviour before we go somewhere with consequences agreed before hand. But you have to be prepared to follow through, which can be hard if they kick off. <br><br>Perhaps arrange to go to classes with a friend who will assist if needed? Or maybe do stuff with only one babe at a time if childcare permits? Now we have three babes we sometimes find it

  12. Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy 29th October 2009 / 8:50 am

    I&#39;ve worked out not to care what other people are thinking and just do what i think is working for my two. Adam, at 4, is also incredibly shy and it is so exhausting. I know he would love some of the activities if he tried them. But, all in his own time. If I push he pushes back and we all get nowhere. <br><br>I love the response though. I am finding the 4 year old to be much better company

  13. zooarchaeologist 29th October 2009 / 9:28 am

    As usual lots of helpful advice. I am glad that its not just me. I have taken it all on board and will work through some of it with the little fella. Thanks x

  14. Jo 30th October 2009 / 8:58 am

    Having commented on your post the day before I had my own nightmare experience in town yesterday afternoon. It resulted in me dragging two crying toddlers through town whilst trying to push the buggy one handed! And all because I had promised them an ice cream if they could be good – and then they couldn&#39;t be good!!!! Arghhh. And I was so looking foward to my cappucino whilst they ate ice

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