D throwing tantrum number 15,763 of the day...
My husband and I have recently returned from a holiday where we left Diana behind in London with her grandparents, for the very first time.
Once you've travelled with a child, you stop taking the little things for granted, so I can't exactly complain about what it was like to be squashed up in my economy seat, overtired from watching three movies in a row instead of spending my plane journey frantically chasing around a frenzied Diana. Let's be honest – the plane ride sans toddler was already a mini-break in itself.
And our holiday was glorious – although by the end I missed D so much I was threatening to abduct toddlers from the wedding we were attending. Total time apart? Five days. I think it's safe to say I'm co-dependent on D.
It didn't help me feel any better when reports from D's grandfather told us that it was freezing and torrentially downpouring in London, while I was basking in the New England sunshine, eating lobster rolls for every meal. It made me feel like a horrible, neglectful parent, since I was lounging and relaxing away from my child... but then I consoled myself by justifying that upon my return I would be a better parent than ever before since I was so well-fed, relaxed and stress-free.
Which would have been the case had my child not been swapped with some tantrum-throwing monster who looks as angelic as Diana but is a terror personality-wise. I guess I left behind a one-year-old and came back to find a terrible two (I still have two months to go officially, but I think D's gotten a head start on acting the part of the headstrong, belligerent toddler).
My reunion with D has been one long week of getting slapped, scratched, pinched and defied at every turn. Any time I ask D to do anything, all she says is: 'No, no NOOOOO, NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!'
Going for walks – usually one of D's favourite pastimes – has become an ordeal, with Diana alternating between flailing herself into the street and just lying down on the kerb, blocking buggies carrying well-behaved babes and being pushed by slightly horrified-looking mothers.
Every time I tell her not to do something, she does it, then does it again, then cackles maniacally. Not only does she realise she's doing something wrong, she starts puckering up for a kiss as she's throwing her punch.
I've tried reasoning with her, being stern, disciplining, sending her to the corner for a time out, and I've also gotten emotional about it and raised my voice too loudly or gotten really upset myself and taken D's new-found independent streak a little too personally (I thought I had until the teenage years before I was rejected and abused by my offspring. Isn't this all happening too soon?)
The truth is, even though it's been a hard week with D pushing boundaries and getting used to parents after a week of being worshipped by uncles and grandparents, I still wouldn't have traded a single scratch or mid-street tantrum to be on holiday for one extra day. Monster or angel, I love my demon child, even though parenting looks like it's about to get a lot more challenging.
In the end, after a week of almost-constant warfare, D upped the stakes. She wandered into my room clutching a copy of Sun Tzu's The Art of War which she'd grabbed off the bookshelf (I haven't read it yet but clearly need to, pronto) and threw it at my feet. Game on.