Tantrums, three year olds and toesies

On Friday night I broke my foot. There I was, sitting on the sofa, admiring my just cleaned over sitting room, when the baby cried and I stood, picked her up to bring her, for probably, oh, the third time at least, back to bed. It was around half ten. PM.

Whoosh. She’d taken a few toys and scattered them around my just washed floors. I was so proud that I had managed to mop. So proud that I had cleaned our living space to an acceptable, ready to relax in level.

Still I slipped on a toy. Still I broke my foot. Even after all the cleaning, I still managed to upend myself, brought down by a small piece of a play-doh factory.

Damn you spaghetti maker, linguine style. Damn you to hell.

I managed to fall and hold the baby in the same position. I myself may have done the splits, fallen on a few lumpy toys and snapped my toe back so far that it… well snapped. But she was grand. Not a bother on her. And that was all that mattered. I had saved her – hurt myself to protect her. What any mother would do.

Only now I’m a bit useless. Guess what you can’t do when you’re on crutches?

The answer is everything.

Driving. Holding things – particularly children. Carrying cups of tea. Going up and down the stairs the 27 or so times you normally do at bedtime, because, two small children. Who don’t sleep. Not till 11pm anyway. And even then, that’s just the starter. The main course of 2pm and 4pm feeds are still to come. And then there’s the 7am dessert of toddler wakey time.

How am I going to hobble from my bed at night to tend to their needs?

Luckily, things aren’t too bad. I have to stay off the foot for a week and after that I should be able to put weight back on it and even drive. I’m not in a cast. As far as breaks go, snapping your big toe, is not that bad apparently.

So that’s the story on the distal phalange. How is yours?

I was thinking today how breaking my foot is just another feather in the cap of 2017 that has been a rollercoaster of life highs and lows. Certain years are very good to us. Terrible things happen in other years. Of course every year is a mixed bag of events, of emotions, of good and bad. But I bet there are times that you look back on yourself and remember it with fondness, or else dread.

I am so grateful for everything I have, for the people in my life, for my family, for my children. I never take them for granted. Even through all the tough parenting times, through the late nights and the sacrifices and everything that goes with it – I’d never have it any other way.

Parental love is the strongest emotion I have ever felt. I would do anything for them. (See breaking bone above).

Knowing that you will do anything to keep your child happy has however become a bit of a bone of contention in this house. (See what I did there, oh the chuckles).

Manipulation. The three year old. Me.

Guess who’s winning?

I’ll give you a clue.

It’s not me.

I can’t remember when it started. It’s probably been creeping in for a long time. A bat of the eyelashes here. A full on, screaming, leg kicking, rolling round the floor tantrum there.

Tantrums used to be an irregular occurrence. Something to be feared, leaving me cowering in their hot flush of emotional wake. Now, there are so many tantrums in a day, scratch that, HOUR, I don’t even count them.

I’ve found myself shouting ‘I don’t care’ quite regularly at her. This is my amazing supportive statement as my daughter has another rmeltdown about another benign issue that is rocking her entire world.

It could have been that she wanted a drink. Or sweets. Or all the toys on the blasted hours of TV ads. Or for it to be Christmas now. Like RIGHT NOW. “I want tismas now!” she roars.

“I want the decorations.”
“I want to go to that house.” (That has its Xmas tree up).
“I want something.”

That’s my favourite. I want something. Something could be anything and you have to try and work out what that something might be. Ignoring it doesn’t make the demand go away. Everything must be answered. If you ignore her or one her 2,736 demands in a day, she will come up to you and grab you, around the ear, or pat your face, to look deep into your eyes, or on occasion, attack something else to get your attention.

I’d love to say things are getting better. But the truth is, I feel they are getting worse. Her behaviour, in particular towards me, is so challenging at times, that I have been floundering for an answer. I worry about it a lot. I think that I am raising a brat – that I am such a pushover, that I do so many things to please her, that I am actually, in the long run, being  a bad parent.

She is obsessed with her dodie. She loves a bottle. She demands sweets and gets them. She tells ME what to do.

Three year olds. No one told me it would be this hard.

There is hope though. There is light at the end of the tantrumming tunnel.

This week I took the nine month old in for her pediatric check-up. The entire conversation once we ran over the baby’s vitals, was about my three year old and how I was coping as a parent. The nurse said a lot of things that resonated with me and I was bowled over by her understanding, her lack of judgement and her reassurance. Sometimes our health service gets it really right.

My daughter has learned manipulation, the nurse told me. She is testing the waters. She is pushing you to see how far she can go. This is all normal. She is also learning independence. It’s a phase. It will pass. It’s difficult now, but with time, it’ll get so much better.

I came out of the appointment feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt I had been given permission to stand up to my daughter. To be firm with her. I was reminded to ignore the negatives and praise the positives.

Since our check-up I’ve found myself implementing a few changes, that have helped me feel a bit more back in control.

“Listen here,” I hear myself saying (exactly like my own mother used to say to us.) “There’s going to be a few changes in this house. I’m the parent, you’re the child. I’m not going to be ruled by a three year old.”

She’s looked at me, slightly taken aback, thinking my words over, about to utter another demand. But I’ve seen her stop and go along with what I’m saying. Last night, bedtime was the most straight forward it’s been in a while.

There are a lot of issues to overcome. The speech delay and pronunciation issues do need to be addressed, but we are treating that. Her addiction to sugar and wily ways to get it also need to be addressed (but so does her mother’s sugar addiction and that’s probably the main problem in the first place, so let’s look forward to fixing that post Christmas).

And we as parents probably need to be more of a team. The good cop, bad cop routine, should become more neutral fair city cops, who keep to the same rules and level of voice when disciplining our child.

The past few weeks, while my whole world has been a whirlwood, have been some of the most difficult in parenting I think.

And we are only three years in.


And there’s the baby awake again.

Must dash. Before she wakens the terrorist.

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December Girl audiobook

6 Comments on Tantrums, three year olds and toesies

  1. Wonderful post Nicci. I think all us mums have been there. And later on down the line (when they are 22 and 19 and extraordinary young women) you will look back and see what a fab mum you have been. I’m there today. I’m sure you will be in the future too. Good luck with the crappy crutches!

  2. Absolutely great read hun! you should be so proud! i can only imagine how hard it all is! You’re on the right track! Keep up the fab writing! 🙂

  3. Oh the joys!! I’m looking forward to the day I turn into my mother as well ???? Using phrases like “I’m not made of money!” Or “who told you I was your slave?”

  4. Hope you are well on the mend by now. As for the trials of little ones, it is such a difficult time in life, but honestly every effort you make now will be worth it and one day you will look at your little ones and think… wow I helped make that.

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