Friday, 7 September 2007


Off we go again. It's another heritage day history tour and I have one of the most miserable days since these alien creatures were ripped out my body. The reason? Tiger goes bonkers big time by the playground because Shark found it first.

Now this is where the book we've been slavishly following doesn't help. The Explosive Child strategy probably works if you can have a parent to child interaction. Better though in a rubber room, rather than at the playground by the cafe so that an elderly tea-time audience is guaranteed.

But what if you can't have an adult-child interaction at the first sign of meltdown? What if you are walking about the history park trying to explain in broken French why ce ne pas possibile to voir le Churchill exhibition maintenant parce que les enfants veux or whatever the bloody plural is courir about apres having voired the oh damn I don't care, je vais repondre non, non, non, nous allons au playground and if you want to join us plus tard then fine but that's it. Because look. Shark has found the playground and Tiger is in meltdown numero un.

Now I've done it. I've missed the moment before the meltdown which is Proactive Plan B and so must execute Emergency Plan B. This is what the book says. In a panic I get on the phone to Dig who's in London and who reminds me about Emergency Plan B.

Emergency Plan B is essentially the same as Proactive Plan B except that you are in a panic and want to cry. Repeat everything the child says and try to throw in a bit of empathy and understanding, even if child is shouting 'I hate you! Go away!' Then repeat, 'You hate me and you want me to go away?' At this point child goes even crazier because now you are repeating everything they're saying. And I bet there's no chapter in the book on how to deal with French au pairs who choose this moment to ask if they can use the telephone.

Well I do manage to get Tiger back down to Planet Earth by repeating everything with added empathy, and with some very careful words and collaborative problem solving, so Emergency Plan B seems to work, sort of. Plan A definitely won't, and that's see whose will is strongest. Usually, in my case, that's led to Plan C, which is to give in.

So I'm just congratulating myself on an effective Emergency Plan B when there's explosion number two.

It's time to leave because the park is closing. Here I don't even realise there is a problem until Tiger runs at me with both fists, beating me about the chest and arms as I try and deflect the blows. It's only later that I understand Shark won't play the game that Tiger wants to play on the way back to the car. Why I'm implicated in this, I'm not on the moment sure - hindsight tells me it's because I said the park's closing - but at least I take the beating, and not Shark.

Not for long. Tiger pursues Shark through the park at speed, despite my best efforts to hold her back, and proceeds to give Shark a sound thumping. At this point I try and pick up Tiger, who at age 7 is far too big and strong for me to feasibly do so. I'm shouting to Elizabeth Hurley to allez to the voiture and stop hanging about watching us in horror.

Well I could go on. I could go on at length about this lovely daughter who since June has turned into a nightmare; I could go on about how everyone stops to stare; about how dreadful this is in front of Maud and Albert who are just sitting down for a cup of tea and a slice of cake; about how I feel sure everyone can only be thinking it's the parent's fault.

And then when we get home, hours later and the rage is all spent, I have to stand in the kitchen and defend myself with Elizabeth Hurley who thinks I should just tell Tiger what she can do and what she can't. Elle ne peut pas le faire. Well, Elizabeth Hurley, thanks. I hadn't thought of that. I'll call that Plan D.

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