Dear Toddler Mum,
They say the grass really isn't greener on the other side - that each phase of parenthood is just as difficult as the last. That's simply not true. Toddlers are the worst! They are an emotional roller coaster, if that roller coaster were designed by a Steampunk Salvador Dali and operated by a 2010 Charlie Sheen. They go on unintelligible tirades that make as much sense as your drunk uncle on a pinot grigio-fuelled Facebook political rant. Toddlers do things that would be considered psychopathic and a danger to themselves and society if they were adults. For instance:
- He's cross because you won't let him jam a fork into the socket and end his life via electrocution/eat a walnut shell/punch another kid.
- She figured out how to remove her nappy and has painted her bed an aromatic shade of mahogany.
- The library put her on a "most wanted" list for the repeated extraction of lift-the-flaps from board books.
- He has given you the skill and speed of an Olympic curling team in his attempts to jog through your dirt pile before it gets into the dustpan.
- Your household vacillates between tears and giggles at any given moment, and that's just mum and dad. Your home décor can be best described as "V-Tech, Peppa, and the Mr Men got wasted and projectile-vomited all over the living room"-chic.
Keeping your toddler safe is an all-consuming task requiring the vigilance of a White House body guard, and because of this you are starved for adult conversation. You are bored. You are lonely. You are tired. You are wondering if your child might be the next Ted Bundy. You love your kid, but you may not like him. I'm here to tell you that your toddler is not defective - he's a toddler. His brain is developing in such a way that he has very little self-control.
This is not a reflection of you as a parent, and it doesn't mean that he is destined to be a sociopath. He will grow out of it. The best thing you can do in the meantime is to offer boundaries, model empathy, and try not to have a tantrum yourself. Hang in there, because soon your terrible toddler will become a darling and playful pre-schooler. Pre-schoolers are the best!
When children are about three-and-a-half or four years old, their impulse control and empathy kicks in. They are finally able to self-regulate and they'll begin to delight you with their observations of the world. My son was a fussy toddler, but as a pre-schooler, he is respectful, adorable, and makes me laugh daily, saying things like, "Mummy, we should get a pet penguin and let him sleep in our refrigerator." Cute quotes like that make me look forward to spending time with him - I love him and I like him!
I see your struggle, toddler mum. Stay strong. This difficult phase will pass. The yonder pasture is indeed a superior shade of chartreuse.
A Pre-School Mum