The baby years were a gentle time, I realise this now. Sure babies cry a fair amount (and sleep deprivation is rather brutal) but figuring out their needs is pretty simple and can be attributed to a small list of things:
1) Tired? Give a cuddle/swaddle/rock them and get them to have a nap.
2) Hungry? Give baby boob or bottle.
3) Bum Change? Yes you guessed it, change the nappy.
4) Bored? Do a mum dance.
5) Need to burp? Pat on the back and have a little vom.
6) None of the above? Just wants to cry. Turn the music up...
Three year olds however, what can I say? It's certainly a learning curve. I was pretty smug during age two. "Terrible twos?" I guffawed internally. "This is a BREEZE", I bragged with a huge smuggy face smile.
I realise I cemented my own fate here.
Because three? As much as there is much good to be found here at this age (such as conversation, funny jokes and independent play) the setting off a tantrum can occur at any moment.
Trying to fix a tantrum requires the same skill as defusing a bomb.
Nowadays a tantrum can begin from the slightest disturbance, the slightest touch and will always be made worse by not knowing which wire to cut (or toy to give, food to eat etc etc). A three year old tantrum (akin to an imminent bomb explosion) can be set off at any time.
Did you cut the sandwich into triangles instead of squares?
Did you loosen the Babybel a little too much from it's waxy blanket?
Did you put the wrong straw in completely the wrong cup?
Are the peppers from the fridge too cold?
Did you serve the favourite lunch from yesterday, the one that is hated and despised today?
And for the love of god, did you forget to get both boxes of the beloved favourite cereals he likes to eat every morning in the weekly shop?
Alas, once the tantrum begins there is little to be done. Whatever you say, only intensifies the explosion. Whatever you offer, only gets thrown across the room.
It's best to run for cover. And wait for the fallout to dissipate. Preferably with a tin of gin. And some chocolate.