My mother is convinced that Piglet is afflicted with the developmental curse generally known as the Terrible Twos.
I am going to assume that in ordinary parlance this means that toddlers are expected to have a lot of tantrums. Now tantrums I can handle. I think I understand them. I definitely read some stuff on the internet about it, which may or may not be accurate. Something to do with said toddlers being unable to manage their emotions, so having a total meltdown. That I can understand. It can’t be easy when the extent of your vocabulary consists of shouting “CHOO CHOO!” at real and imaginary trains, and a repertoire of animal noises, mostly domestic animals plus a generic “RAAARRR” for everything else. Despite having a vocabulary I consider somewhat satisfactory, and the ability to make myself heard most of the time, I’m pretty sure I only grew out of the tantrum stage myself a few years ago, and there are times when I think I might still be in it. What I am more worried about is the defiant behaviour. I’ve written about this before, but it seems to be escalating with each passing day, especially since mastery of the word “NO.” Is Piglet destined for a career as a master criminal, or just a common or garden ASBO-collector? Either way, I am looking for you all to tell me that this is normal, right?
Now, it’s difficult for me to judge whether Piglet is above average, average or even below average in terms of behaviour “episodes,” because besides my aunt’s constant reminders of That Legendary Tantrum I had whilst in her care once in 1982 when I refused point blank to use a toilet and held in my effluvia until a suitable potty was duly purchased, I have no useful benchmark of toddler behaviour with which to compare Piglet’s relative performance on this score. However, I do know that my mother is increasingly worn out at the end of each day she spends looking after him, and today, one of those rare days when I had the privilege of his company all to myself, the tantrum line up was as follows:
- Lying down on the floor of the bus in protest because I wouldn’t let him climb onto the back seat and look out the back window without my holding him there in case the bus came to a sudden stop and he went flying.
- Persistently running around in circles during an outdoor carol concert, to the point where I judged that he was increasingly likely to get either run over on the nearby main road or lost in a crowd of people, so I had to swiftly take him home.
- Refusing to sit in pushchair (various times throughout the day)
- Refusing to go to bed.
- Refusing to climb into bed, and hitting me repeatedly when I suggested he do so.
- Refusing to put on clothes.
- Refusing to take off clothes.
This is all perfectly normal toddler behaviour, right? For the love of God somebody please tell me this is all perfectly normal, because I am currently worried that I have ruined Piglet by not getting him into a routine by the age of three months that involved a bottle of expressed breastmilk before bed, a nightly bath and bedtime at 7pm on the dot, to be followed by a night of uninterrupted sleep, as prescribed by Gina Ford.
Am I supposed to be giving him time outs? Am I supposed to put him on the naughty step? Am I supposed to be a gentle parent and do some gentle parenting shizzle I haven’t quite worked out yet that doesn’t involve either of the first two options? All I can do is repeat the mantra that this too shall pass, and hope that it passes soon, rather than continuing into his teenage years leading inexorably to the dreaded weekly call from the head teacher’s office, as I am called upon to defend him in the face of yet another exclusion. What was it this time? Hitting? Kicking? Lying on the floor wailing? Is he still refusing to wear clothes and having to be chased around screaming with just a vest on, draped around his shoulders like an obscenely short toga?
Just tell me this is all perfectly normal, and I have not birthed a monster, right?