I’m not sure how it happened.. I am convinced I was with him at the time and I didn’t notice any lightning bolts, thunder, a voice from heaven or the likes? But something happened as the clock struck midnight the morning Liam turned two years old. He went to bed a sweet cherub, and woke up more like the cherub who was thrown out of heaven – if you get my drift.
I’ve always believed that the “terrible twos” was just a myth, I mean how can a child be bad for a whole year, come on now! I know a child must surely reach an age where they start exercising their independence, where they start pushing boundaries and testing the disciplinary waters, but I didn’t, in my wildest dreams, imagine that the move from infant to toddler would be more like dealing with a pre-adolescent tween, than a diapered babe still wet between the legs! The mood swings, the crying, the moaning and groaning, the meltdowns, the tantrums – it makes menopause look like a walk in the park.
I am all for allowing your child to explore this new found independence – letting him pour his own milk into his cereal, even though half of it ends up on the floor, I’m thinking of getting a cat to mop up after him. Allowing him to choose his own shoes and brush his own hair, even though we leave the house most mornings looking like a normal family with a circus clown in toe. Allowing him to choose his own meals, thank goodness his school provides a well rounded breakfast, lunch and two healthy snack options, because as a mother, I know that Smarties and yoghurt do not constitute a healthy evening meal. Now this sounds simple enough, but you must understand that with every decision he wants to make, comes lots of crying, jumping up and down, the occasional toy thrown in my face and ME, the mother, the disciplinarian, the ruling authority, left to feel like a complete failure; frazzled at the fight I’ve just had to endure with a child who can’t even spell his own name yet. And even this I guess I could handle every so often, but this has become our lives! Nothing is simple to Liam, not even saying his prayers is simple anymore. Let me illustrate below.
Pre two years old:
Mum: Dear Jesus
Liam: Dear Jesus
Mum: Thank you for this lovely day
Liam: Thank you for this lovely day
Post two years old:
Mum: Dear Jesus
Mum: Come Liam, say your prayers
Mum: Jesus help me to be a good boy
Mum: JESUS HELP ME TO BE A GOOD BOY
Liam: Liam IS a good boy?
I’ve been told to ignore him when he behaves this way, and this is quite a safe method because no one would want to steal your screaming child in a shopping centre anyway – believe me. Still, you have to go and peel your miserable lump off the shopping centre floor eventually if you have any plans of getting your shopping done. I’ve tried reasoning with him, but this frustrates him to the point of a smack in the face (my face, not his). I’ve tried the art of distraction, which works if I am distracting him with a big fat sugary treat, but at the risk of him losing all his teeth before he is three, I’ve had to cut back on this method. The trusty wooden spoon has also lost its allure. Pre two years old, I had just to mention the wooden spoon and he’d revert to being the sweet cherub we talked about earlier. Now, he laughs scornfully when I mention the wooden spoon, probably because he knows I don’t have the guts to use it! Which brings me to the last method – the swipe across the bottom, or the rap over the knuckles – this method worked for a while, but now my soldier takes it in his stride, as if he sees it as an army stripe in the Battle of the Wills.
I’ve been told to chose my battles with my domineering two year old, and rather focus on winning the war. So as we battle along each day, I try and keep a mental score of who’s winning, hoping that I can let this particular victory slide, so that we can get through one conversation without a dramatic ending. I get shivers down my spine when I realise that as Liam learns to let this obstreperous behaviour go and grows up, I’ll be going down this road again with his little sister soon. I doubt my experience will be advantageous, as I’ve already noticed that Missy has a stroppy streak. I have no doubt that when I see their two little heads huddled together, loud giggles erupting, and little hands clapping together in delight, they are concocting a plan to see who can get mum to go grey faster.