The Terrible Twos: This is Normal, Right?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Refusing to sit in pushchair (various times throughout the day)
  4. Refusing to go to bed.
  5. Refusing to climb into bed, and hitting me repeatedly when I suggested he do so.
  6. Refusing to put on clothes.
  7. 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?

I Am Not A Strict Parent.

Before having my son, I didn’t give much thought to what kind of parent I wanted to be.  However, there was one thing I knew for certain.  I was going to be Strict.

Nine years of being a secondary school teacher, and observing countless children-and therefore the long-term consequences of the actions of countless parents-and I knew Strict was best.  I once asked the parent of a particularly pleasant child how she had managed to raise such a wonderful daughter, and although she didn’t actually say the answer was Being Strict, I was sure that was what was behind her success.

Fast forward almost two years into my own parenting journey, and I am not so sure.  Not only am I not particularly inclined to start setting boundaries for a baby, but when said baby does do something that probably shouldn’t be encouraged, I find it hard not to laugh.  Especially when he is laughing too.

This is yet another source of disagreement between my mother and I.  Mother believes that the reason that meals with Piglet frequently result in dropped food is because he is undisciplined and, with yours truly for a mother, has become accustomed to running riot.  Conversely, I believe it is because he is a toddler, and such is their wont.

However, recently there have been some worrying developments (clearly the fault of my louche parenting style), including throwing things at people, as opposed to merely throwing things around indiscriminately without any particular aim.  Today, it was a piece of banana.  Tomorrow, who knows?  A toy car?  The kitchen crockery?  A molotov cocktail?

I enjoy my civilised* meals out with Piglet.  I enjoy the one-to-one mother and son bonding time, and the intellectual conversation and debate (the latter is something I’m still working on, but I have managed to get him to say two more words “adder” as in the variety of snake, and “Adele,” as in chart-topping songstress Adele.  The fact that both of these sound exactly like his default sound “A-da” is neither here nor there).  I also enjoy the indulgent looks of the other diners as they gaze at Piglet adoringly, enquire about his age and give knowing looks when he does something cute that they recognise from when their own children were small.

I don’t think they will be looking indulgently for much longer if Piglet persists in throwing pieces of food around.  And this time, it’s personal.  The food in question is not merely being thrown to the floor, it is being aimed squarely at other people.  For the moment, Mummy (with an occasional side order of “Granny”) seems to be the main target, but who knows where this could lead?

He has started to literally pull his arm back and take aim.  Today the missile was a bit of half chewed banana, which I suddenly found being launched at me as if from a catapult.  The banana bounced off my face, and landed underneath another child’s high chair (always good to be able to pin the blame on somebody else).  Piglet then burst into peals of laughter.  Watching Mummy humiliated is always a good sport for a child.

Try not to trip on this one, fellow diners.

The trouble is, I wanted to laugh.  Like I wanted to laugh the time a group of Year 11 boys smuggled one of their friends from another school into the classroom and tried to pass him off as a Dutch exchange student with a dodgy accent; and like that was probably bad teaching, laughing at the flying banana was probably bad parenting.

So what to do?  Do I hotfoot it to the library in search of the Gina Ford Book of Really Strict Parenting?  Or do I keep muddling along, hoping that a combination of love, laughter and civilised mother and son intellectual conversation will see us through?

In a few years time, I want it to be me that my child’s teacher is asking for tips on How To Raise The Perfectly Behaved, Well Adjusted and Motivated for Learning Child.  I don’t want to be the one being called in for countless meetings at the school, and being told that it would probably be for the best if I quietly withdrew him from full time education.  Home schooling is all the rage these days, you know.

Perhaps I am over thinking it. As I keep reminding my mother, he’s not even two, and there will surely be many more opportunities in the future for confiscating mobile phones, shutting off the internet and grounding him indefinitely.  For now, I’ll just stick to trying not to laugh.

*They aren’t very civilised.  Unless “civilised” means eating straight off the table and throwing anything you don’t want over your shoulder.  I’ve heard that was the kind of civilisation that went down at a medieval banquet, so I’m claiming it.


Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Life Love and Dirty Dishes

You can tell a lot about a man by how he treats his mother….

When they were both wee nippers, one of my brothers hit the other one around the head with a toy milk float.

It was probably the most dangerous use of a milk float until that episode of Father Ted where the evil milkman places a bomb on his milk float and Dougal gets stuck driving it.

Got to love Father Ted

Luckily, the damage was minimal, and since then the design of children’s toys has improved and been made safer.  For example, toys are now generally not made of steel, with sharp edges.  Indeed, Piglet’s toys are now mostly bright plastic, huge (so they cannot be swallowed) and with no little fiddly bits.  That is, except for the ones he has inherited from generations past.  Ones like the toy Volkswagen Beetle which he was bequeathed by my brother (the aggressor in the Act of Violence Perpetuated by Milk Float).  Well, I say “bequeathed” as though he was given it, wrapped up in tissue paper and hidden at the bottom of a drawer like a family heirloom.  Actually Piglet found it lying on a high shelf in the living room.  And by found it I mean that one day, when he was walking past in Granny’s arms, he spotted it, pointed at it and then shouted until lo, it was presented unto him.

I’m not sure what the obsession is with this toy, but it certainly seems to hold a hypnotic sway over Piglet and, apparently, its owner, Uncle Milk Float Attacker, as every time Piglet plays with it Granny reminds him not to “break it, as it’s your uncle’s and he’ll be very upset!”

Uncle Milk Float is 30.  I’m not sure he has much use for a toy Volkswagen Beetle.  Also, as it is made of metal, it is more likely to break Piglet than be broken by him *MORE ON THIS LATER.*

On an entirely different note, Piglet loves his Mummy.  Arguably, he loves his Mummy even more than he loves the Volkswagen Beetle, as he often cries when I leave the room.  Although to be fair he also cries when a bit of old tissue is taken away from him so that doesn’t necessarily prove much.  Yesterday, when Uncle Milk Float Attack Victim (as opposed to Attacker) came to live with us (he’s fully recovered now), Piglet spent about two hours crying and gripping on to Mummy’s hair at the fearful sight of there being a man in the house.

Piglet also likes to show affection by launching himself at my head, opening his mouth (“ooh Piglet!  Are you giving Mummy a lovely kiss?”) and then clamping his little jaws shut over whichever part of my face is nearest (“PIGLET!  YOU JUST BIT MUMMY’S NOSE OFF!”)

At least, I think this is a show of affection.  Either that or he actually hates me, the Horrible Mummy who denied him a father, spends far too much time on Twitter and won’t let him play with the oven when it’s on.

Today, for example, I ignored Granny’s cries of “careful mind!  He’s got that Beetle!” (he wouldn’t hit his Mummy, would he?  He loves his Mummy), lay on the floor and waited for my delightful baby to shower me with kisses.

And, in a chilling echo of the violent incident with the milk float, he hit me in the face with the Volkswagen Beetle.

So what does the future hold for little Piglet?  Is this a foretaste of things to come?  Will he be excluded from nursery for hitting another child with Thomas the Tank Engine or one of his Friends?  Will he end up in juvenile court for hitting someone with a REAL car?  Will he wind up in prison, serving a life sentence for……

I mean, they say you can tell a lot about a man by how he treats his mother, right?



Modern Dad Pages
Mama Mim

How I Am Now Piglet’s Dadda

Piglet, as we all know, does not have a dadda.

He does, however, like to say “dadda” a lot, thus proving that the word is nothing more than a meaningless piece of baby babble.  A small victory for all mothers across the nation who are fretting that their children are obsessed with their fathers and do not care a jot for them.  When you think about it, perhaps this is why patriarchy exists; because the role of mothers has been devalued by puffed-up fathers thinking they are the more important parent because, despite the fact that it is the mothers who carry and birth the children, those children still appear to grow up to prefer their fathers, as supposedly proven since time immemorial by the fact that “dadda” is invariably the first word (unless of course the wee ones prefer dogs, which may be the case with Piglet, as I wrote about here).

Despite the lack of male parentage, since I have been living with my mother we seem to have fallen into particular roles in the house, and I am pretty sure that my role is the one that would be traditionally associated with Dadda.  For a start, I am reliably informed by those whose children do have fathers that they like to take on the role of the “fun” (i.e. letting the wee one do whatsoever they please) parent.

And this is definitely me.

It is sadly the case that I, who was previously sole carer and provider, attached to Piglet 24 hours a day without a break, now spend large chunks of time sitting on the sofa browsing the Internets while my mother runs around frantically stopping Piglet from knocking over the television or emptying the entire contents of the DVD cabinet onto his head.

When we lived in my flat, I might add, neither of these things were necessary as he was allowed to bash the television to his little heart’s content, as long as it was with plastic implements rather than metal, and preferably no bigger than the size of a pen (one has to have some standards), and knocking DVDs off the shelf, opening the cases, taking the CDs out and chewing them, was a particular beloved game.  Which he was also allowed to play.

Consequently, my mother thinks Piglet has got to the age of one without grasping the concept of boundaries, and must be re-educated in such matters as not staying up until 11pm crawling around the living room, not picking up bits of wood chip from the garden, and definitely not throwing food on the floor.  I, on the other hand, am largely if not in complete favour of all of these things, then at least prepared to tolerate them until the time comes when Piglet has a vague grasp of language and can be reasoned with.

I think this officially makes me Good Cop.  Does this mean Piglet thinks I am Dadda?