When Little Tot's howling echoed through the streets at 8.15 on a damp, misty morning, I knew it was going to be one of those days. Not only was he howling, he was writhing. Not only was he writhing, he was clawing. I tried to lock him in one of my best motherly embraces, but I think we all know that it has to be one hell of an embrace to prevent a toddler from howling, writhing and/or clawing.
At least we'd reached the middle of the queue now. It had crossed my mind to cut my losses and leave. Of course, I would have breezed past the other parents in a manner which suggested I really didn't care and that I had something better to do when I was actually inwardly doubting my abilities as a Supermum and on the brink of a major sobbing sesh.
Was it really that important to get a photo of the Tots together from Big Tot's school photographer? Didn't I already have hundreds of perfectly good photos of my two gorgeous boys? Yes of course I did. But being a true Brit I didn't want to miss out on a free photo session so I'd turned up to stand in the drizzle on a Friday morning.
Looking around I couldn't understand why none of the other toddlers were acting in a similar manner. Couldn't these kids show even an ounce of boredom to support Little Tot? I'd reached the point in the queue where it was necessary to discard buggies as they weren't allowed in school so Little Tot was stuck with me. I couldn't let him down on the ground due to the aforementioned shitty weather (remember he was dressed up to the nines for the photographer) and because he was still predominantly crawling everywhere.
Things were getting very cramped. Big Tot had been kicked in the head twice (his head was at optimum kicking level as far as his brother could see) and now I had two howling boys to deal with. Oh what I would have done to be one of those calm, serene looking mums with their calm, serene looking tots just happily perched on a hip. My children have never perched on my hips. Ever. For starters I seem to produce giant babies which tend to turn into giant toddlers and secondly they seem to be possessed with a character made entirely of fire and brimstone. This is not conducive to happy hip-perching.
Anyway, my own fire and brimstone incited me to stick it out until the end and we finally made it into the makeshift photo studio set in the school library. The caretaker (oh what a lovely man) had helped me with coats and zips and snotty faces and suggested that it might all work out fine, the bright lights might distract Little Tot into smiling for the camera. He even crossed his fingers for me.
As we approached, the photographer tried to hide her alarm but her raised eyebrows betrayed her. Little Tot was utterly appalled at the positions we were trying to wrestle him into and by this point too far-gone into the tantrum spectrum for us to get any type of 'natural' shot. Big Tot, bless him, tried his best to goad his brother into the spirit of things. But as he was lacking in any promising toy offers or chocolate-themed goods, Little Tot was having none of it.
And then I remembered that Big Tot's Cool Rule Book was a little treasure chest of beautiful photos. Beautiful because
they represent everyday life for us and where we are right now as a
family. They're not set up, they're not forced. They are real. And not
only do they help Big Tot understand our family rules and expectations,
but one day I will look back on them and fondly remember all the tantrum-taming I did. Won't I?
Nevertheless, it was with a heavy heart that I dropped Big Tot off at school and trudged home with a disgraced Little Tot. A stack of custard creams and a strong coffee were my first priority as I got through the door and then an equally strong word with myself about the day so far. You are not a bad mum. You tried something you knew would be challenging and it didn't work. Big deal. Get over it and move on.
And move on I did. Because later in the day my hubby and I were called into school to collect Big Tot who had fallen in the school playground and apparently broken his foot.
Now therein lies another blog post.
But let's just say that the day was not short on dramatics. Or emotions. Or custard creams.
Oh, and just to make myself feel better I made sure I was the first to write on Big Tot's plaster cast. Well, nobody else was going to say it for me, were they?
Find out more about The Cool Rule Book and a whole range of other fantastic products to transform day-to-day living with a toddler by visiting Abi's brilliant website, www.thecoolrulecompany.co.uk