Having children = dignified? Well, often not but few situations can be less dignified than dealing with tantrums. Here, as many will know, you are often reduced to behaving like a crazed, gurning, kids’ TV presenter in pathetic attempt to distract your toddler from the ’cause’ of said upset.
Such is my plight recently, where in extracting my two-year-old from the bath, he flails and squeals at my malicious deed like a slippery piglet. That slight feeling of panic/anger rising in me, I do the one thing I can think to do and grab both his bum cheeks in my free hand. I squidge them together repeatedly.
‘Ha ha! Bottom bottom!’ I shout. ‘Whose is this bottom bottom! Juicy juicy!’
I look at his face for a sign that it has worked.
His body relaxes, he breaks into a smile then starts chuckling wickedly.
‘Bottom bottom, mummy! My bottom bottom! Juicy!’
Thank God, I think. Distraction achieved; crisis averted.
Only then, like with so many on-the-spot tantrum quenchers, I begin to realise at leisure the rod I may have made for my own back. Now don’t get me wrong, the ‘B-B’ solution is one I have returned to since, not least of all as I am a bit of a natural clown and love an amused audience (yeah, so what if they’re two).
The problem is that it has kind of created a fixation in my son for his – and other people’s – nether regions.
Take the other day, for instance. Not content with my husband tickling him, son prefers a more animal approach. Mid-chuckle, he orders:
‘Bite me, Daddy. Bite arm.’
Husband obliges, clownishly chomping on son’s arm. But it is not enough-
‘Bottom, Daddy! Bite bottom!’
Husband grimaces, protests, but is met with son’s wiggling arse next to his face and a command of ‘EAT MY BOTTOM’ so husband reluctantly pretends to bite, only to be met with a loud, stinky rasp straight to the face (and neither nappy nor clothing have softened it). The culprit cannot contain himself with glee.
But why confine oneself to one’s own arse? Now, you see, he has taken to shuffling around behind either one of us, shouting ‘bottom bottom!’ and poking us there.
Well to be more specific, we are finger-jabbed, naked or clothed, in the little gap, the diamond of daylight between the tops of the thighs and the bottom of the bottom. It’s an easier target with his father; my current pregnancy has seen my diamond shrink somewhat to a tiny, twinkling star like the bright dots you punch in paper to watch the solar eclipse. I’ll admit, my desire to discipline him comes second to feeling respect for his hand-eye accuracy.
Yet what’s the harm in all this, I hear you cry. Surely this is confined to the privacy of your own home? Guess again. Yes, son has occasionally taken to jabbing and prodding us in public, risking the tuts and tellings-off in favour of the hilarity.
And this is not all. A bum megalomania has overcome him recently where, dissatisfied with mere family ruin, he shouts and points at pedestrians from the car ‘People bottom bottom!’ but, worse still, at passers-by of very close range.
There is now a new cry we hear frequently; please imagine how it is enhanced by son’s current pronunciation of the letter L as a Y:
‘Bottom bottom! Mummy! Daddy! Yook! Bottom bottom! Big, and mine only yittle!’ x 4, 5 or even 6.
And it gets worse at a day spent at the sea-pool (it being Sydney and it being summer). Now, hats off to their bravery but there are certain curvier women out there, perhaps more at home with their bodies than I, who enjoy a good G-string bikini. One such woman – hard of hearing I can only hope – became the subject of son’s repeated yells (above) and our shushes as we tried to hurry him away from the area, only to be met with the wide eyes and half-smile of a little old lady sat nearby. I know your pain, her eyes said, though it’s still pretty funny from where I’m sitting.
Maybe she could recognise a tantrum-quencher that had long ago got out of hand.