a Toddler Tantrum Exposé
Written by Kaci Smith
Does anyone else feel personally victimized by their three year old or is it just me?
I look up at my husband and we share a knowing glance – a glance that says “WTF” and “WHY IS THIS KID LOSING HIS MIND AGAIN?” Usually if one of us loses our patience, the other can step in and simmer down the situation – but lately it’s been really hard for us both. Hard because it’s constant. Every transition, meal time, outfit change – is a complete melt down.
“It’s just a phase, it’s just a phase, it’s just a phase,” I repeat to myself.
When it was just Shep – sometimes I felt like I was a better parent, a better mother. I felt like (for the most part) I could de-escalate any tantrum with ease and we would go about our day. I’ve read the toddler books, I follow @BigLittleFeelings religiously. I know all the “millennial mom scripts” and that yelling doesn’t help and that giving them options so they feel like they have control usually does. I know it’s not personal, and I know that when he’s a teenager or even an adult with real problems, I’ll miss these days. “Little people, little problems,” they say…and I know that’s true. But right now…ooooof.
“MOM – STOPPPP IT,” he whined loudly when I politely asked him to get dressed this morning.
Is he three or seventeen?
“STOP IT!!!!” He now screamed. I looked at him, perplexed, as I was trying to burp the baby. “I’m not doing anything, dude,” I said. Cue to more yelling from him, crying, and flinging himself onto my bedroom floor.
“Shep, hurry up!” Eric called from downstairs, where he had his breakfast ready. “We have to go in six minutes and you’re not even dressed yet…” Well that was apparently the wrong thing to say.
It continued downhill from there.
When it was just him – I had more time. I had more bandwidth, and I had more patience. Scottie is seven and a half months old and I still feel like I’m figuring out the whole “mom to two kids thing.” SHE is an angel right now. She’s the easy one. She either needs to eat, sleep, or a diaper change. It’s the toddler – the same toddler that made me a mom – the same toddler that I felt like I knew inside and out – the same toddler that gave me the (false) confidence that I could be a calm, cool, and collected mom – that is throwing me for a loop. I’ll tell you now – I am no longer a calm, cool, and collected mom.
A lot of times when Shep is upset or when he lashes out at me for telling him what to do – I can literally feel how he’s feeling. When I was growing up and my parents did the same thing – I remember how that felt and what that frustration was like. I remember (even being pretty young) feeling independent and then defiant if that was compromised. Sometimes remembering that helps me – because I know what will set him off (as it’s the same exact thing that would set me off). So I use that information to try and handle the situation differently – but lately that doesn’t even seem to work.
The worst is when we’re in a time crunch. Trying to get out the door for school this morning was it’s own impossible mission. By the time we (forcibly) got him out of our house and into the truck – he hadn’t eaten any breakfast, had two t-shirts on, and was kicking and screaming that I wouldn’t let him wear long pants (it’s going to be a humid 85 degrees today). Then came the refusal to get into his car seat. The second I would get one arm strapped in, the other would come out. Legs flying. Milk spilling. Eric and I both trying to stay calm through the situation. Ultimately I got him in, gave his thrashing head a quick kiss, and right before I shut the door (Eric takes them to school) he let out a long, high pitched, bloody murder scream. “Have fun with that,” I said as I shut the door. “Make sure his teacher knows he didn’t eat!”
“Am I failing?” I wondered as I walked back into the house.
I have no advice. With any luck, our kids will ultimately grow up to be good humans. I’ll probably look back on this time and smile or even laugh. But for today I’ll try to take some deep breaths, get my work done, practice some self care if I have time, and pick him up from school with a big hug and a smile.
This weekend, in a rare moment of him NOT hating me 🙂
Such a sweetheart when he’s asleep 😉
At least he loves his baby sister 🙂
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