Tadpole screamed. A piercing, 200 decibel caterwaul only she knows how to produce. She roared. She howled. Arching her back with fists balled and legs kicking, she wailed some more. Tears coursed down her cheeks and she paused only long enough to wipe her nose on my clean jumper. (One of the two items I had managed to pack in the impossibly large bag for myself to wear.) The serenade continued undiminished for another twenty minutes before she became too weary to go on and finally relaxed in my arms, drifting off into a peaceful sleep. I was afraid to stop stroking her hair, despite the cramp in my badly positioned arm, for fear that this might cause her to rouse.
Peace at last. Although the sleeping Tadpole’s angelic expression wasn’t about to fool any of our fellow travellers who had just been treated to such a convincing demonstration of her vocal range.
As a parent you eventually learn to become immune to the stares of outraged fellow passengers. You no longer pay attention to the low murmurs of ‘parents today, they just don’t know how to control their children….’ and ‘I’d put her over my knee, that would teach her to throw tantrums…’ The accusatory stares do not penetrate beneath the toughened parental hide. I no longer even blush or feel even a twinge of embarrassment. Make no mistake: I’m not here to make friends, I just need to survive this trip.
Anyone who has had to deal with a toddler who has skipped her nap, who has flaming red cheeks as a couple of molars are pushing painfully through her gums, and whose routine has been generally turned upside down over the last couple of days will testify that sometimes there is absolutely nothing the poor parents can do. Where normally a book, a hug, a biscuit or a drink would suffice, or in more extreme situations bribery involving a piece of chocolate or being allowed to play with a forbidden object like a mobile phone or a watch, in this instance there is no solution but to play a waiting game. It’s a war of attrition.
Control is not a issue here. The Tadpole is a tired and wounded animal. She doesn’t really know or care where she is or what she wants.
If you happen to be catching a British Midland flight from Leeds to Paris next Sunday, I recommend you request a seat as far as possible from Tadpole, just in case we are all treated to a repeat performance.
Or invest in earplugs.