Ice Cream As A Weapon
0 comment Thursday, April 17, 2014 |
Adopted children can be big on control. They have learnt that adults aren't trustworthy and are therefore damn sure that they can do a better job than you. At anything and everything. There are lots of ways that their need for control can manifest itself and most of them are pretty annoying. Let's take a look how the need for control, however subtle, can be part of a simple trip out ...
It's a warm and sun-drenched, if windy, Sunday of a Bank Holiday weekend. Husband and I are going with the kids to a Cotswold village called Broadway, for a bit of an outing. The plan is to wander around a bit looking in shop windows and buy an ice cream or cake or something, and if that goes well then drive up to Snow Hill Lavender Farm for a drink, before heading back home. Keep it simple. Don't expect too much.
It takes us just under an hour to get there and all seems well. Then we get out of the car. My son, a bit of an adrenalin junky, wants his ice cream now, right away, this minute. It is explained to him that we are looking around the shops first, then doing ice cream after that. But he can't leave it alone. Explaining doesn't work, distracting doesn't work, and so in the end it's the old failsafe - 'if you say the word ice cream once more you will not get one.'
We have wandered by this time into our first shop, a kind of Past Times meets National Trust gift shop. Daughter and I are cooing over all the pretty purses and trinkets and stuff. Son's mood has gone from excited to destructive. He keeps saying everything is rubbish or stupid, keeps touching things, looking at me, subtly threatening to damage stuff. He flops his feet loudly on the floor when he walks and he blows raspberries. He is not getting what he wants and so he wants to spoil things for the rest of us. I say to my husband something along the lines of 'can you please get this vile boy away from me.'
We leave the shop, wander along the High Street. The coffee shops and pubs are doing good trade today and along the pavement there's an ice cream paddler and an Italian market, selling olives and cheeses and such. We enter another shop, one that sells fancy stuff for the kitchen, and I tell daughter she can let go of my hand here. She lets go of my hand, but she will not let go of my attention. She wants my attention on every thing her eyes fall upon. If I wander on to look at something she calls me back to look at what she's looking at. She asks me what things are. She asks if she can buy things. It's not possible for me just to browse because that would mean, for my daughter, that my attention was elsewhere. That cannot be allowed.
We leave, cross the road, and start wandering up the other side of the High Street. Horror of Horrors, there's a toy shop! Husband and I say that we don't know anyone who would want to go in there and the kids giggle and get all excited. We go inside with them and they start to go a little crazy with this sudden abundance of fun items before them. They want this, no, they want that, no, they want that instead, or maybe, they want this, or that. Or this and that. They're both quite lovely to watch, abandoning all self-consciousness to happiness.
But! No buying things until after the ice cream, and no ice cream until after we've wandered all the High Street! So, we leave and wander on.
I keep passing shops that I would love to browse inside, but I know that would be a hiding to nothing. So, now, we go for an ice cream. Except daughter wants a cake, suddenly. All the coffee shops and such are busy, but the ice cream vendors out on the High Street are not. I tell daughter we're having ice cream from the vendors and I explain to her why. Daughter's mood darkens. She doesn't want stupid ice cream from the stupid ice cream vendor. Why can't we go into a shop and get an ice cream. She starts pulling on my hand and dragging her feet. I tell her it's ice cream from the vendor or nothing. She continues to pull down on my arm, trying to assert some physical control over me.
We buy the ice creams (for two children who have suddenly gone very quiet) and hang around on the sunny, breezy High Street that is exceptionally pretty, lined with its honeycomb coloured buildings and its trees in blossom.
Inspirations strikes! The children know that they cannot go into a shop whilst they are eating their ice creams! And so I leave them with their dad and go browsing in one of my favourite shops. Alone. It feels so indulgent and I happily buy a large fat white cathedral candle. I would have bought a couple more 'nice things' but I know the kids will find that hard to handle as they are only allowed to buy one item.
Meanwhile, daughter is still eating her ice cream. As punishment, I presume, for not getting her way over where the ice cream was purchased, daughter is eating her raspberry ripple in an exceptionally slow manner. She knows we can't do much whilst she's still eating and she's so happy to keep us hanging around. Control over all of us! Awesome!
Except, not. I tell son he can go buy the thing he wants to buy with his dad whilst I stand and wait with daughter. She really doesn't like that and her ice cream disappears in seconds.
It's been a success, relatively speaking, and so we head off to the lavender farm on Snow Hill. Daughter's mood is still a little dark. The surprise of entering a cafe and being told she can choose any drink she likes momentarily throws her. Perhaps she'll just relax and enjoy herself for a bit. But then son chooses the same drink as daughter, a strawberry milkshake, and now daughter wants to keep hold of the particular carton that she picked up. Literally. I am carrying a tray with a hot drink and a glass bottle on it and she is trying to keep her hand on the milkshake carton, also on the tray. It's silly and it's not safe. I order her to go and get a table with her dad, she has a little tantrum. I insist, and she goes.
By the time I have paid for these items and join my family at the table, her mood has got even darker. Nobody would sit where she wanted them to sit.
We're done with our drinks long before daughter is, but again, she soon finishes up when she sees me take son to go and have a look in the gift shop.
We start the drive back home along the long flat top of the lavender covered hill, with spectacular views of the Vale of Evesham far beyond it. Husband puts the radio on and starts searching for some good tunes to play as we race along the bright country lanes. But daughter cannot have this! Heart FM is what we usually listen to and Heart FM is what she wants on now! Husband picks up a station playing a Eurythmics track and he tells the kids that this was one of his favourite bands when he was a teenager. But it's not Heart FM! So daughter starts to complain loudly over the track that husband is singing along to. I turn the music up.
That does it! TANTRUM! She has been continually thwarted in her attempts to control things and this is the last straw! She cries, she wails, she shouts. We ignore, ignore, ignore. She keeps it up for several more songs and when she finally gets it that this isn't going to get her what she wants, she shuts up and puts her coat over her head.
We'd kept all stress to a minimum. The kids weren't tired and they weren't hungry and the place wasn't especially busy. Excusing the drive there and back, we were only out for about an hour and a half. But still they couldn't relax. With daughter I get the impression that her mind is always racing, trying to figure out what her options are and how to get what she wants. With son, I suspect he's ruled by a fear of boredom and gets anxious when no adrenalin hit is in sight.
This is a fairly typical day out for our family. In fact, it's pretty much one of the better days out we've had. It's sad really, that they can't just enjoy a sunny afternoon out with mum and dad, lap up the ice cream, enjoy the drinks and the drive. I used to love it when our family had daytrips like this when I was growing up, although it didn't happen very often. I don't ever remember causing a fuss when an ice cream was bought for me, I just remember being very pleased about it.

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