Holy moly, I learnt the hard way that these are a real actual THING! A thing that when your toddler is a cute 12-18 month old, you can’t really imagine because they haven’t started forming their own opinions yet. I know, because I naively thought that I might just escape it because my boy had been pretty chilled up to this point.
I was VERY naive.
And then 3 months later we went out for Mother’s Day tea and suddenly became THAT family in the restaurant with the screaming toddler, who wouldn’t sit in a high chair, or anywhere in fact. We were on the receiving end of withering looks from other diners. Including, other families with children. Clearly, their kids ARE perfect all the time, but I very much doubt that.
So what went wrong? Nothing. Trust me, there were days when I wondered if he’d malfunctioned or something, or that perhaps I was just a terrible parent (because certain people, who clearly have amazingly well behaved children ALL of the time, said as much “it’s all about the parenting!” Oh, please DO fuck off!)
What actually happened was completely normal. As well as turning 2 and becoming so much more aware of the world around him, my boy was dealing with us bringing a baby sister into his life.
A friend (who had just survived a small age gap) told me the first month would be the worst and then things would settle down. His way of dealing with it (reminding me that he was still there) was to throw himself out of his cot when Baby sis was 1 week old. So we had to introduce the big boy bed. And this brought with it months of not going to sleep for 90 minutes after he’d been put down. So he wasn’t getting enough sleep and he’s a chip off the old (maternal) block in that, when he’s tired, he’s incredibly grouchy and very unreasonable.
After 4 weeks things were starting to improve. But at the same time, baby sis caught his cold and was rushed into hospital with bronchiolitis for 3 days, home for 5 days and then back in to hospital with bacterial meningitis, where she and I stayed for 2 weeks. A deeply unsettling time from the perspective of a 2 year old and this time it took a lot more than 4 weeks for him to settle down when she finally came home.
From my perspective, I was exhausted, broken and had zero patience for tantrums, which were happening more and more frequently. Every. Single. Day.
Plus, baby sis was still quite under the weather after such a major illness, and not at all her usual laid back self. It was a vicious cycle.
Eventually I stumbled across another blog on Facebook http://www.mumofboys.co.uk/how-to-survive-a-small-age-gap-between-children/ and the point that stuck out for me, was about giving the toddler more attention. It said if both are crying, go to the older one first as they will remember. And I kid you not, making that simple change has changed our life. Instead of losing my shit with him on a daily basis, I offer him a cuddle instead.he can talk much more now so there’s a chance of reasoning with him, or at least bribing him with promise of a chocolate button or two! I’m not saying that I never lose my shit anymore or that I’m some kind of perfect mother, but this was just what worked for us. He needed attention, and to know that he was still one of the loves of my life.
Now? We still have meltdowns of course, he’s a 2 year old. And I still have moments where I’m too tired to deal with it. But what I have noticed is that he’s absolutely hilarious and I look forward to spending time with him more than I dread it, which I’m ashamed to admit, I did go through a period of when things were at their worst.
One of my favourite moments ever was him shouting “Daddy’s got a hard on!” several times in front of daddy’s entire cricket team. Snigger. What he actually was trying to say was that Daddy had a hat on.
Another time in the car he’d pointed out a fire engine to me (which was in fact a tow truck, just a red one) and absentmindedly I said “oh yes, a red tractor!” I was immediately thoroughly told off, so I explained that mummy had made a mistake and that it was ok to make the odd mistake every now and again. His response, “mummy’s got a SNAKE!” so I said “just a little one!” and he said “NO, BIG SNAKE, MUMMY!” which then turned into a reinactment of the shop scene in pretty woman. Big mis-snake, huge!
I try to enjoy these little moments because soon enough they’ll be over and he’ll be a spotty teenager, towering above me. And that will be a whole new blog post.
We turned a corner. I’m not naive enough to think that there won’t be several more corners to turn…and I also realise that by the time the next terrible two’s roll around, I’ll have a 2 year old AND a 4 year old to contend with! Yikes!
So please don’t ever moan about my kids behaviour to my face, because I know and I’m trying to deal with it, ok? I’m just busy picking my battles.
Besides, it’s usually people who don’t really understand, who feel the need to comment. Either because they either don’t have kids (like the barber who questioned my giving him buttons to sit still for his haircut when I could be giving him fruit. Right, seriously, shut up. You know NOTHING about how difficult it is to get a kid to sit still for 15 minutes) OR their little cherubs are several months younger and they are just not there yet. If you’re in the latter camp especially, don’t be naive like I was. Your time will come and I hope your toddler goes easy on you.
Bye for now.xx