Toddler tantrums. I could pretty much end this blog right there, knowing that those of you who’ve been through this sometimes horrendous milestone will sympathise with me (particularly those of you with twins!), that the heros among you with triplets or more will feel rightfully smug, and that those of you who haven’t reached this wonderful stage yet will shiver in dread. Whatever stage you’re at: this is a parenting rite of passage we must all go through that I think may change me as a person.
All kids have the potential to be stroppy, to have a face on them occasionally. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the toddler’s complete inability to control their newly forming emotions to the extent that you get kicked out of the “meet the mammals” animal encounter at the petting farm because said toddler is throwing an almighty tanty which is escalating and will “scare the animals” (true story). And there’s a direct link between this inability to control feelings with the frustration of being unable to effectively communicate. So what toddler is essentially telling me is: something’s terribly wrong, I can’t tell you what it is and it’s making me feel angry. Can’t blame her really.
Unfortunately, as an adult, I’m not really that far removed from her. Sometimes the tantrums press just the right button in my psyche and I’m liable to have a tanty of my own. Hindsight – sometimes immediate – tells me that screaming, “SHUT UUUUPPP!!!!” at my tantruming toddler is a really bad idea. What a shame my unevolved, caveman brain can’t always see it at the time!
I feel really proud when I stay calm during a whirlwind episode. There are many times when I’m not only calm, but I’m not suppressing the urge to strangle. In those times, I am a Zen warrior, and I can even smile at the toddler as she throws herself around the room, thinking, “Bless her, she can’t help it. I can ride this storm. We’ll cuddle after.” High fives all round.
But sometimes, it’s been a tough day, we’ve been stuck indoors and I go a bit crazy. I’ve discovered it’s definitely healthy to get outdoors as much as possible. It’s also good to meet up with friends/family as much as I can, so I can have that extra pair of hands (even if it’s just to entertain T2 while T1 ruins my day).
I think the times I feel least able to cope with a serious meltdown are the times when the control freak in me has a chance to shine. The times when we’re on our way out the house for a timed event and therefore I have a schedule. Toddlers laugh in the face of my schedule! Or the times we’re out and about and a tanty is embarrassing and doesn’t conform to the plans I had that day.
But as much as I sometimes struggle, and don’t always react in the best way, I feel proud of the times when I stay calm and manage to diffuse the situation. I think back to my 18 year old self, the one whose priorities centred around drinking, dancing, lie-ins and freedom, and I know for a fact that she would never have coped with being a parent. She would have had ZERO patience, and would have responded to tantrums by having an almighty tantrum of her own! She didn’t know the meaning of the word “compromise.”
But the other thing 18 year old me didn’t know was the all-consuming love of being a mama (a twin mama!). Younger me had a damn fun time but she needed to move aside for the version of me who is still learning, not always getting it right but getting it right sometimes and for that, I feel proud. Now, I’m off to see what other mistakes I can make today!