You don’t know real struggle until you’ve taken my daughter to the mall (or any open space).
I think it’s been established through my social media updates (if we’re friends) or my past entries that Elle is a difficult kid. Not just the tantrums-every-so-often kind, those are normal for toddlers. She is the I-will-ruin-an-entire-early-morning-flight-for-all-the-passengers-if-you-don’t-let-me-walk-in-the-aisle-while-the-seatbelt-sign-is-switched-on kind of kid. It’s something about her seemingly limitless energy that every time you try to suppress it (read: make her act like a behaved toddler), she just explodes. (Ask me about our trip to Pagadian last August, if you want to know how bad it gets sometimes.)
I think the best way to describe Sundays at the mall with Elle is like taking a zoo animal, say a tiger, out into the wild for a stretch. The tiger runs free, as far as its paws would take it, and every attempt of trying to pace that feline ends in a bloody mess. That’s exactly what we go through with Elle, only that every time we stop her from running into trouble (down the stairs or worse, the escalator) it ends in a MASSIVE tantrum, like drag-her-off-the-floor-while-she’s-kicking-like-crazy kind of tantrum.
Just this Sunday, we had to go to the mall of a couple of hours to have photos taken. We spent two hours there but it honestly felt like forever. Half of our meals are spent with one parent chasing Elle around and the other stuffing as much food in the mouth as quickly as he can so he can take over taking care of Elle. Jan and I didn’t move a muscle for 20 minutes when we got home just to recover the consumed energy. Now you can imagine that any trips outside is a harrowing experience for us the guardians. Sometimes I can feel eyes judging us when we’re at the mall, probably questioning how we can’t get a grip on our own daughter. Well, sir, I’d like to see you try.
I envy those moms who can take their little daughters out to somewhere without back up. The longest I’ve gone alone with Elle outside was a taxi ride and even that didn’t go so well. By the time we’ve reached our destination, I was already calling SOS. I’ve never had alone time with my own baby and it sucks. I’d like to comfort myself by saying that it’s not that I’m not strong enough, it’s just that Elle is TOO STRONG for her age. She is a one-year-old trapped in a 5 year old’s body who runs around like a mad, headless chicken. Add the fact that she weighs 19 kilos makes everything just a little harder—scratch that, WAAAAY HARDER—for my totally unfit body. (Hmm yeah, maybe I’m just really not strong enough. I’m 66 kilos of all fat.)
I don’t want to say that I look forward to the day when Elle and I can walk peacefully outside hand in hand, because that would mean skipping the good parts about her growing up, those adorable and heart-melting moments you can only get from a toddler. Like how we were walking around Uniqlo and she was trying to figure out where I was amid rows of clothes, and when she finally saw me, she yelled: “Peekabo! Hi there, mimi!” I’d never forget how happy she was seeing me as if I was gone the whole day. That’s the trade off. I guess I’m really just left with no choice but to suck it up (I think that’s what the last two years have been all about) and enjoy the good with the bad as much as I can.
Make no mistake, this is not another complaint. I just want to put it out there that behind all the adorable photos of our Sundays is a mom wanting to cry for help. Haha! Plus maybe there are others out there who are going through the same and are just to shy to admit that they sometimes can’t handle their kids too.