Exactly one year ago, I was a pretty smug biatch. I had a two-and-a-half year old daughter exhibiting absolutely no signs of the much maligned ‘Terrible Twos’ and I put it all down to the fact that I was the best mum in the goddam world. Obviously.
She said her pleases and thank-yous unprompted. She was kind and gentle with smaller children. She spoke politely, albeit eccentrically, to her elders. She never ran off – in fact, I often complained of having the opposite problem of her incessant dawdling.
The parents and their rude and rowdy tantrum-throwing toddlers, looking tired and defeated, were doing something wrong. I never said anything aloud to suggest it, but I judged them. And pitied them. And I went and got myself knocked up a second time because I was obviously so bloody good at raising angels.
A lot can change in a year.
Yesterday, my daughter yelled at a friend of mine, who was being so kind as to draw her a picture, that she DOESN’T LIKE GREEN! Not only untrue – she changes her favourite colour as often as her underwear and green has featured heavily – but incredibly rude.
Knowing she was adjusting to life with a new little brother, last week I took her out for a hot chocolate and some quality time with Mama while he slept in the pram. I even threw in a cupcake. Halfway through her drink she LOST HER MIND because she decided she wanted a juice instead.
She pushed a girl’s bike over at the park. She climbed every Ikea display she passed. While dressing her one morning she told me I stink.
She demands treats for breakfast EVERY MORNING. Getting her around the supermarket is a gauntlet of unreasonable demands from lollies to baby socks. She refuses to say goodbye when guests leave our house, instead opting to stomp her foot and make grunty noises. And forget unprompted manners – I’m lucky if I can pry a thank-you out of her.
Impervious to bribes, threats and reason (no you can’t have an apple because we’re fresh out of apples), this kid has no concept of time except RIGHT NOW.
Like all good parents, we took to Google to tell us what’s what and we found A LOT of people in the same boat. Mostly they blamed Day Care, but I knew better; this had nothing to do with being around other badly behaved kids. The simple fact of the matter is this: my kid is a jerk right now.
We’ve labelled her ‘The Threenager’ and we know it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better. I know it’s temporary. I know it’s not some long-term personality indicator. But man, it’s rough. My days with Hazel used to be filled with hilarious anecdotes, now they’re filled with power struggles. Sometimes, putting her in Time Out actually makes me glad. I make a cup of tea and get nostalgic about the two-and-a-half year old I once knew.
But there’s always a silver lining, right? Well mine is this: if I see a parent with a rude and rambunctious child, tearing up all kinds of hell, I no longer judge.
I give them that tired and defeated smile of parental solidarity and shrug as if to say ‘Kids, who needs ’em?” Then quickly get my kid out of their way before she tells them they stink or demands their milkshake.