Upon becoming the mother of a two year old
So, The Child has turned two, temporally.
Emotionally, she turned two about two months ago. At least that’s when I noticed her doing things I hadn’t see before. Walking up to a smaller child, saying “No pushing!” and then pushing him to his butt. Having screaming howling temper tantrums because I turned left instead of right at some intersection. “Not this way! That way!” (Little backseat driver!) Melting down completely because I went to the bookstore and then Starbucks instead of the bookstore, the grocery store, and then Starbucks.
Some of this I can deal with. Some of this I understand — she’s trying to assert her independence, whatever — and am struggling to deal with. And some of this I’m just baffled by. Why, for the love of little green apples, does she care if I take a left instead of a right when driving through downtown Hartford? I know she’s never been there before, it’s not like she knows if I take a right it means we’re going to the cracker store or something.
So I’ve started asking people I know, love, respect, for suggestions. And I keep getting answers that make me want to beat my head against the wall.
“Tantrums,” says her grand godmother, a woman I normally respect very much, “are a way of expressing frustration that she doesn’t have words for.”
Oh yeah?! Then what about today’s tantrum at lunch time when I said we were going to have scrambled eggs and carrots and she began howling, screaming, chanting, throwing herself on the ground and yelling, “NO! I want cheesy rice! Cheesy rice! I want cheesy rice!” (Cheesy rice is toddler-speak for risotto. Even simple risotto is not a casual Monday lunch food.) She clearly knew what she wanted and had the words for and the tantrum was purely because she was being thwarted.
Another friend said, “You just give her one of two choices.”
“Yeah. But she wants the other option,” says I.
“Well, if she won’t take one of your two choices, then she doesn’t get a choice.”
That sounds good on paper, I’m sure. But The Child is smart and she knows that there’s another option besides walking and holding Mommy’s hand or going in the stroller. She knows there’s getting carried in Mommy’s arms. And she’s canny enough to walk for a little while and then decide to collapse and lie on the ground while we’re in the middle of a crosswalk on a very busy road. Then Mommy has to carry her. Okay, she hasn’t quite figured out that that results in me dumping her in the stroller once we’re across the road, or maybe she has and she doesn’t care because a small victory is better than no victory at all.
And I’m at a total loss about what to do with the pushing situation. She seems to have tapered off now, but for a while she was getting great glee out of making Mommy react to her pushing her playmates. Since she’s a big kid (80th percentile) and a little older than some of the kids she hangs out with — a month or eight, usually — it’s just not safe to let her do that. She could hurt them. So while I try to keep my reactions low key, positive, redirecting her energy and attention, and all that b.s., I can’t do that with the pushing thing. “NO! No pushing!”
But then, like I said, she started saying it right before she pushed someone flat on his face.
My pediatrician recommended Dr. Sear. I’ve got “The Discipline Book” already but I’ve been strangely reluctant to pick it up. I don’t know why. Probably because I predict that he’s going to say “If you’ve followed attachment parenting properly, your child will want to make you happy and so if she’s acting out, it’s because you’re a miserable failure as a mother and a human being.”
Wow. Until I articulated that, I didn’t realize how worried I was that this is because I’m a terrible mom. I know I’m not a terrible mom. I don’t know if I’m the best mom, but I’m a good mom, at least. And, intellectually, I understand that this is just part of being two. I’m just not sure that I’ve fully understood why and how it’s just part of being two, so I’m not sure I believe it.
I need a book on this. Or twelve.