Sunday was interesting.
My husband and I shared a relaxing day together celebrating our anniversary. It was lovely. We did things that we used to do during the first couple of years of our marriage. We ate at a nice restaurant. We watched a movie. We got a massage.
You know – the stuff that parent fantasies are made of.
We collected our bundle of joy from my mother’s place, and we went home with a sense of love and freshness surrounding us. Until the toddler broke us.
You see, we are new to the tantrums. Toddler is 2.5 and in my first-time-mum ignorance, I thought our next-prime-minister-bundle-of-joy was just so emotionally advanced that she skipped right past that stage, and was handling her emotions better than most adults I know.
WRONG! I can hear all the tenured parents laughing at me already.
This tantrum lasted for about 1.5 hours. I pulled out the angry voice, the time out, the consoling voice, the bribery voice and even the meditation voice. They all failed.
Group therapy: Should I let my daughter get her ears pierced?
Come Monday, I devoted my whole work (cough) day to researching dealing with tantrums. I read articles from numerous parenting blogs, websites and so on.
I created a two-page summary of all the important points that I read from all the parenting experts that all seem to have their sh*t together, and an action plan. Emailed the husband, printed it out and stuck it on the fridge like I was preparing myself for a battle.
Monday night, obviously, toddler was brilliant and practically walked herself to bed. Toddler must have sensed my preparedness and retreated, surely.
Tuesday morning, again, toddler was as great as I could ask for. For a while. An hour in to the craziness that is the morning rush, toddler wants to put on her own shoes.
Great. It takes toddler the perfect amount of time to put on her shoes as it does for me to fumble around my wardrobe and find something that makes me look mildly acceptable to go to work in.
“Here toddler, here are your shoes” (animal stickers on the sole and all so she matches them up and knows what shoe goes on what foot). Shoe flies across room. Different shoes? No, still wants those ones. Need help? No, toddlers do everything on their own. I stopped and remembered the list of things stuck on the fridge.
I started to talk quietly. I crouched down and got to toddlers eye level. I ignored and continued getting dressed. I periodically checked in. I came back and offered a hug. Decline.
Toddler in harm’s way? No. I went back to getting ready for work. I hear something rummaging near my bedroom door. Its toddler. Immediately I retreat and wish I had my fridge list to hide behind. I practically duck behind the bed.
Toddler walks in, shoes on the right feet and school bag on back.
“You ready mummy?”
Ugh. How did you become that brilliant and oh-so-clever, emotionally advanced, tiny person again so quickly?
I haven’t been a parent for long, but I have been a parent for long enough to know that no advice is right or wrong. No one is an expert or not an expert.
And a toddler can totally defeat you and totally embrace you within about five minutes of time, and that is all okay.
Ess is a mum of a toddler, but that doesn’t define who she is and what she does. Ess is still trying to figure out who she is and what she does.