My oldest daughter started her “Terrible Twos” at about a year & a half old. Right about that time I was already significantly pregnant with her little sister, thus providing me with a great deal of “Holy shit! What have I gotten myself into?!” kind of thoughts. The “Terrible Twos” had a firm grip on my girl until almost the age of 4. (Seriously, why do we call them the Terrible Twos anyway?!)
When we reached 2 and a half with little sister and she still hadn’t succumbed to the “Terrible Twos” I thought maybe I was going to get lucky this time and skip it altogether. Maybe the tantrum gods were smiling down on me, figuring that I had already paid my share of dues with big sister. I was wrong. Turns out she’s just a late bloomer.
As I find myself spiraling once again into the fantastic world of irrational toddler emotion, I feel much more at ease the second time around. With my oldest I worried that she was going to be a terrible person prone to anger management issues. Now I know that it’s a phase. Toddlers are jerks. They just are. They lack impulse control and the ability to effectively interpret and communicate their emotions. Sometimes it’s like hanging out with a PMS-ing bipolar manic depressive detoxing from a heroin addiction. Or so I imagine.
Toddlers are jerks. They just are.
What I understand now that I didn’t quite grasp the first time around is that tantrums aren’t that big of a deal. The less I react to them, the shorter and less intense they are. Keep your cool, stand your ground, and allow your kid to deal with the consequences. It will pass and eventually they will learn how to behave like a human. Mostly.
Enter, the banana.
She requested a banana with breakfast. Second Rate Dad hands her a banana. It’s broken. Broken food is the #1 known cause of toddler tantrums worldwide. (I have no scientific evidence to back that statement up, but I’m pretty sure it’s 100% true.) She loses it and refuses to eat the broken banana. Second Rate Dad, feeling quite authoritarian on this morning, draws a line in the sand. He dictates that she do nothing until she finishes the banana. Bribery and threats work wonders for big sister. Not so much with little sister. Seeing the line drawn in the sand, she decides she must take a stand. She throws the banana in the trash can. Second Rate Dad takes away a few prized and beloved possessions which now must be earned back through good behavior.
Lunchtime rolls around, and what does tiny Toddlerzilla request? A banana, of course. She did it with a smirk on her face too. So without thinking I hand her half a banana. Bad move, mom. Half a banana?! How dare I insult her majesty with half a banana! Once again, we find ourselves in a banana standoff. Banana-gate 2015, if you will.
She refuses to eat the inferior banana. Fine. As a result, I tell her she isn’t allowed to play on the iPad until she eats the banana. (P.S. I’m not in the least bit interested in hearing anyone’s thoughts on the evils of bribery and why I’m a terrible mother for letting my almost 3-year-old play on the iPad.) She sees the line in the sand again. So she begins to taunt me with the plastic banana from her play kitchen. See. Told ya toddlers are jerks.
Finally, after about an hour long standoff involving her repeatedly being turned down for her iPad time, she agreed to eat the “broken” banana!
The moral of the story (if there actually is one) is that toddlers are kinda jerks. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Keep on doing your best to mold them into good people. Keep calm, stand your ground, and try to model positive behavior for them while teaching them about inappropriate behavior. It gets easier. Well, I’m not sure if it gets easier or if you just develop a higher tolerance for dealing with crap. That, and wine helps too.