Chippie has, obviously, reached that Age Of Tantrums.
Some call it the Terrible Twos. He started this a few months back. He’s not two for another few weeks.
I think “Terrible Twos” lulls you into a false sense of security.
They’re not “terrible” when they are two. I guess there’s just no other word that adequately describes just how horrible this “phase” can be. And let’s not mention three.
His tantrums are bad. They can go for hours, literally hours. He bangs his head on floors and walls. He smacks. He throws things. He won’t use his words. He is indecisive, demanding something, screaming about it, then screaming because he gets it. He can’t/won’t be cuddled and any attempts to calm him with hugs, caresses, stroking his back are futile. And result in pain.
I have no idea what he wants, so I can’t either give it to him, or stand my ground on why he’s not having it.
The pain I get isn’t just physical from the smack in the head with a train, either. The pain is much deeper.
How can I fulfill my maternal obligations when I have no idea what he wants?
It feel so completely frustrating and I feel completely useless, unable to comfort him when he’s so distressed, to watch him hurt himself (is he really hurting himself?), that I “should” know what to do and feeling so out of control.
I find myself cringing at around 2pm, around the time he wakes from his afternoon sleep. In cycles:
- calmly working
- glance at clock
- shoulders creep up around ears and I physically- and emotionally – cringe
- listen for sounds from his room
- wish, wish for just another 5, 10, 30 minutes, an hour …
- remember he as at childcare today
- relax, physically
- repeat every five minutes
How can I call myself any kind of mother when the thought of him waking sends me to tears?
How can I call myself any kind of mother when I don’t want to get him from childcare?
And when I get there and he throws himself in the middle of the carpark entrance and cries and I want to just leave him there? Beside a busy road? Or just take him back in, because I don’t want to do this again?
He cries all the way home and I wish I’d put in that request for an iPod for Christmas, my birthday, Mother’s Day, just because …
Because I need it just to stop feeling so useless and worthless and incapable.
I take a deep breath when I enter the house, and he cranks it up a notch.
Time for some tough lovin’ and I quietly, calmly explain to him that he needs to stop and I am here for him when he needs.
What the books/experts don’t tell you is that explaining things to a nearly two year old is not for their benefit, but for yours; to help you get a grasp on the situation, to calm your nerves and to calm you by forcing you to speak in a calm voice.
I wasn’t going to, but I turned on my computer and grabbed a friend on MSN.
I could hear the screaming and banging from his room, the opening then slamming of the door, the banging of his head on … something.
I hear a bang then quiet.
I don’t know if I am concerned, or relieved. Mostly relieved I think.
I don’t feel bad for feeling relieved. It crosses my mind that I “should” at least be feeling concerned that I’m feeling relieved.
I’m not. I’m just relieved.
Short lived, though it is, as he starts up again. And I wish I had left him at childcare.
I don’t feel bad or guilty for thinking that either.
I check in, return to his level again and speak calmly.
The other thing the experts/books don’t tell you is that by getting down to their level, you have further to fall when you collapse into the foetal position.
Eventually, he realises its not going to work. We have a cuddle. A smack-in-the-face-with-a-train free cuddle.
I’m so sad, frustrated, feeling like crap that I get no enjoyment out of the cuddle, or see anything cute in the faces he’s pulling and the games he is now playing
The rest of the family return home in time for dinner to be served. I snap at them as the “I don’t …” comes out of their mouth.
I warn them I’ve had enough and don’t/won’t/can’t take any more.
I serve up dinner to avoid any issues; raw carrots for Godzilla, the larger piece of steak for Monkey Boy, no pumpkin for Godzilla.
Half way through, I’m putting my foot down about the whinging. Then I look up and realise in the stress of it all, I’ve mucked it all up and put the wrong thing on the wrong plates.
It doesn’t do much for the self esteem, reinforces my failings in this role.
He starts up again over dinner. He is returned to his room, Mummy-calming mumblings along the way. I feel slightly better.
He escapes, throws himself on the floor in the hallway, screams and bangs his head.
I grab Grumpy by his shirtfront as he passes me in the direction of Chippie. “Do not fucking go near him!” I say through gritted teeth.
“I just want to change my pants,” he informs me. Scared.
He (Chippie) is returned to his room. I hold the door closed while I take deep breaths. I entertain the thought of locking the door. I don’t know where the key is. I take more breaths before walking away.
What the experts/books don’t tell you is that locking the door on a tantrumming toddler is not to keep them in, but so that you are forced to snap out of your acute psychosis. It takes time to fumble with a key in a lock when you are stressed. Time enough to come to your senses and calm down just enough.
I muck up the Vegemite sandwiches this morning.
Is it stress? My mind on other things – like what the fuck am I doing?
Or am I really not suited to being a mum?
I force myself to do what I always do when I’m on the edge. and try to find the humour in the sitaution.
Am mildly impressed that I’ve managed to muck the Vegemite sandwiches up.