Last week was a helluva long week, courtesy of my youngest Hellraiser who, for the remainder of this article I’ll refer to as Gremlin.
So, Mr Gremlin recently turned two. You hear a lot about the terrible twos. The moodswings, the tantrums, the complete and utter lack of cooperation at the most inconvenient times. It’s all true. (If your child hasn’t shown signs of this in some shape or form, he or she is broken.)
I kid, I’m just seething with jealousy.
I actually thought I had a handle on things, because a) I had survived my eldest’s terrible-two-phase and b) Gremlin’s “ones” weren’t exactly a walk in the park. The ominous ones, as I’d jokingly call them. Haaaa, if I’d only known. How much worse could it get? Well, apparently much, much, MUCH worse.
His screams reached decibels and pitches I’d previously thought his little lungs were incapable of reaching. He somehow managed to transform his 12,5 kg body into a one-man wrecking ball; arms and legs flailing in a blurry fit of anger. You know the term spitting mad. Well, I now know where it comes from; he’d work himself into such a fit that he’d go from screaming to spitting froth in anger. I half expected him to spew vomit and do an Exorcist-headspin a couple of times.
Oh, he’s just possessed. That I can deal with…
If I had to rate his behaviour on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being sweet and well behaved, 3 mischievous, and 5 tantrum throwing, I’d say he operated at level 7 all week and at all hours of the day. At night, he’d wake up every two hours and pick up where he had left off: screaming, flapping around the bed like a homicidal fish out of water, willfully inconsolable until he tired himself enough to fall back asleep.
Nothing would calm him. Everything was $#!+.
If I offer something to drink. WEEEH!
I remove the aforementioned drink. WEEEH!
I remove his soiled diaper. WEEEH!
I try to put on a fresh diaper. WEEEH!
I give him a bath. At first he enjoys it, he’s happy and playing, when out of the blue…WEEEH!
I try to take him out of the tub. WEEEH, WEEEH, WEEEH!
There was just no way to win with him. He wasn’t sick. He wasn’t in pain. That I’d confirmed. This was just a battle of wills. Little did he know, I had a few tricks up my sleeve from my battles with his predecessor that are once again helping me weather the tsunami of his mental onslaught.
Earplugs are a great way to take the edge off the intensity of the tantrum. Especially when he seems stuck in that high-pitched ‘mommy’s killing me’ shriek. (I’m still surprised no one has called the cops yet, on the assumption that bloody murder was being committed next door). The earplugs don’t drown him out completely, but they lower the volume to the point that I no longer feel like my head is slowly splitting in two.
🛑Beware🛑: if you want to test this out, be sure to keep your little banshee (and any other rugrats you may have running around) in your line of sight at all times. Parents’ ears are their nr. one asset in preventing child-initiated disasters, so if those are impaired, the eyes must take over.
Imagine the unspeakable
I don’t like resorting to this one, so I only use this trick if I’m at my wit’s end and my patience is wearing dangerously, freakishly low. I imagine how horibly miserable I would be if he were…I can’t even type the words. The thought alone sends such a powerful surge of sadness, regret, guilt and anxiety through my body, that any shred of anger instantly disappears. I could be steaming at the ears one moment, and the next I’m just utterly grateful to be able to hug and kiss him and that he’s healthy and well, albeit still super mega cranky.
How many times have you read about parents shaking their babies to death, or doing any number of other unspeakable and senseless things to a child and thought how could they and never will I. Even though I still know I never would, I now understand how some, the truly desperate, could, in a moment of weakness, a drugged haze or tired daze do the unspeakable and unforgivable.
There but for the grace of God…
So, if you’re in a bad way (already) and dealing with the onslaught of tantrums is just too much to bear, put some physical distance between you and your little terrorists. No, do not leave them unsupervised and to their own devices. If you can, turn them over to your partner, parents, in-laws, a friend or neighbour you trust. And go somewhere else. Go do some errands or take a shower. Just take break.
If you’re lucky enough to have a good support network, use it! If you don’t, reach out to your GP and ask what resources are at your disposal. Look, I of all people know it’s hard to ask for help. To me, it felt/ feels like weakness, inadequacy, and failure. But the alternatives, a broken parent or child, are to be avoided at all cost.
Do something unpredictable and silly
I like keeping my boys on their toes, have them wondering what is this crazy mom of mine going to do next, but you know, in a fun way. So, for example, when one of them becomes particularly unbearable, I seek comfort and release in music. I look for the most guitar-laden, drum-drenched rock song I can find on my phone, hook it up to the stereo, crank the volume, and sing and dance my heart out. More often than not, the shock of being ignored and having something be louder than them, shuts them up faster than any soothing words I could ever utter.
I’ve also learned to cut myself some slack. By day four of the tantrum marathon, I was giving my eldest the phone in the morning so I’d have at least one cooperative little person to start my day a tad more easily. I know it’ll cost me MOT (mother of the year) title, but at least I made it through the mornings without wanting to jump out of my skin. And when they went to bed, I rewarded myself with a little chocolate – *cough* half a bar *cough*. (Hey, a year ago it would have been a bar and a half, so I’d say that shows improvement on my part).
All in all, I remind myself that this parenting gig is a long-term deal. No one benefits if I burn out this early in the game. I still have the terrifying threes, fearsome fours, frightening fives…well you get what I have to look forward to. And don’t get me started on puberty. Woohoo. Fun times ahead.😐 *Groan* Yeah… Two is definitely my limit!