“Remember when we had our first child and we thought we only had to worry about the Terrible Twos,” my husband said yesterday, while our four-year-old screamed in the back seat of the car. And then we laughed and laughed and laughed. Oh, how foolish we were.
Her tantrum, over picking the red fluffy toy from the doctor rather than the red one, had been going for 15 minutes. We were rating each squeal out of 10. Her two sisters were giving her moderate scores, because frankly we’ve heard worse in our house. Except one squeal, with an accompanying guttural snort, did achieve a 15 out of 10.
Then like a demon possessed she shouted: “You will go back to the doctors and get me the pink one NOW”. Then we all laughed again. Like hell we will.
Time passed and all calmed down, but then this morning the eldest child thought she’d top her younger sister’s effort (she gets a little competitive like that). This time with an epic meltdown in the driveway over her lost green fluffy toy, also from the doctors (fuck you doctor and your fluffy toys). Apparently, it’s her “most favourite toy ever” and she can’t “live without it”. She threatened to scream until I found it for her. I threatened to leave her on the side of the road and tell her school Principal. She stopped. Naively, she is under the misguided impression that I will be finding it today and then taking it to school. Ummm…let me think about that. NO.
I’m waiting for the trifecta. You see the youngest child of the three, who now wears nickers, gets herself so worked up when she tantrums over such things as the “incorrect spreading of cream cheese on her biscuit” that she wets herself. And that’s exactly what I feel like doing today – cleaning up warm urine.
Last week I was in the midst of solo parenting again (my hat’s tipped for single parents because frankly, it’s really, really hard) and the girls were in fine form. By night four I was so tired, had been shouted at so much, had cleaned many puddles of wee, taken away the football book, used up all my bribery options and just wanted five minutes without someone asking for something. Then my youngest started screaming over something silly. And she would not stop. I grabbed her and placed her on her bed and walked away very quickly. I felt such anger inside of me I scared myself. I had to remove myself from the situation.
I had hit rock bottom.
I retreated to the couch and just sat there as still as I could be, in the hope no-one would see me. I breathed deep breaths. I calmed my heart rate down. I tried to ignore her screaming. I told myself it’ll pass. I willed myself not to leave the house, with the kids inside of it.
Then my eldest girl found me. She snuggled up tight and held my hand. “I wish I could shield you from her shouting Mum,” she whispered. “I’ll try my best”. We sat quietly together holding hands.
And then the screaming inside my head stopped. And the house was quiet again.
It’s hard work this parenting caper.