I Love my Daughter. But Tantrums are a Bitch
I put her ponytail a little too high. I asked her to come and brush her teeth. I said she needs to finish her dinner. I took out the pair of shoes she had been wearing incessantly for two weeks, but she suddenly wanted to wear her flip-flops. I called her ‘baby girl’. I put her in her cot for nap time, as I have done every day for over three years. I wore a pink bracelet that she wanted. I stood too close to her in Woolworths. I added milk to her tea.
These are just a FEW of the latest reasons that my child has lost her mind.
I’m talking full-blown crying, refusal to do anything, sometimes face-down on the floor, sometimes screaming, sometimes hitting, but always a general kind of crazy that I simply cannot control. Tantrums are a pain in the ass. They reduce you to a shadow of your normal Mama self. They make you go psycho. They bring out the worst in your child and in you. In short, tantrums are a bitch!
We survived the ‘terrible twos’. We are now into the threes. We made our way here fairly peacefully, a few bumps along the way, but overall we enjoyed the ride. And then she turned three. Her opinion became more forceful. She has a wider vocabulary and she is not afraid to use it (I am regularly told now that ‘you are not my friend anymore’ or my personal favourite, ‘you are exhausting’). She has decided that she doesn’t need to nap on the weekends anymore. Gone is that 2 hour lunchtime break I looked forward to, when the house would be quiet and I could have a lil snooze or paint my nails. Nope, ‘big girls’ apparently don’t need to nap. They also apparently don’t like to go to bed AT ALL, preferring to strip the linen and throw all their toys onto the floor. ‘Big girls’ also have the ability to change from sweet, smiling angels into crazy strangers the second we enter a shopping centre. When Fergie sang ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, she had not yet had the pleasure of raising a three year old ‘big girl’. They cry. For EVERYTHING. And we have just given away the dummies that would have calmed her down, and to put it bluntly, shut her up.
We have tried being strict, not letting down and trying to stick to our routines. So far that has not worked. We have tried the naughty corner. The thing about three year olds is that they don’t care about your authority, so unless we physically hold her in that damn corner, she simply will not stay there. We have tried incentives. And while she may want that promised pink marshmallow, eating her dinner is just no longer worth it to her anymore. So after yet another chat about how to approach it, Baby-Daddy and I are now in the midst of a new technique – being softer and more understanding, learning to just let it go. We are picking our battles. Is it really life-altering if she won’t wear pyjama pants to bed? Probably not. We will save the energy for an argument about not hitting us in the face while we try to put her in her car seat.
Don’t get me wrong, for the most part Bella is still the well-behaved sweetheart we all know. She loves cuddling and tells me I’m ‘the most beautiful Mommy’. We paint our nails and stop on the way to school because she wants a photo with a pink tree. But when the hormones kick in and she sees red, she’s a different kind of crazy. Three year olds can be mean. And I am actually a little scared of mine.
I have asked my own Mama for advice, I have Googled it and I have spoken to my Mama friends. The long and short of it is that three is worse than two. Whaaat?! Why do they call it the terrible twos if you are actually just biding your time until the terrible-trainwreck-threes?! Someone should have warned me!! So this is me, warning all you Mamas out there. Prepare yourselves. Find some kind of inner zen, because when the threes hit, they come in hard, and you will need a special type of patience to survive it. We are all doing our best, finding our way through the uncharted territories that are our children. Hold on as best you can because it’s quite a ride!