The Joy Of The Toddler Tantrum
Babies are amazing so sweet,so cute, so wonderful that they make you feel all the sacrifices you make to keep them alive are worthwhile. Mine was an over achiever in this department, for ages, her angelic face would wake up showcasing the cutest smile known to mankind. She loved bath time, she ate any food we deemed to be of sufficient quality to put in front of her and she would laugh lovingly while listening to my drastically substandard singing. On the odd occasion when she was sad or crying, it could always be rectified with a big hug from Dad. Then, without any warning, the honeymoon period was over.
Everyone had warned me about the ‘terrible twos’ and as soon as I mentioned that my child is an overachiever, she went into her terrible twos phase about six months early – lucky me! From time to time, my little angel would suddenly turn into an unrecognisable monster; kicking, screaming, shouting, doing an impression of a beetroot and ejecting sizeable volumes of water from her eyes, prompting me to google exorcists within a reasonable driving distance. “It’s just a phase,” I repeated to myself over and over while curled in the foetal position under the kitchen table, gently sobbing and periodically, sipping on an oversized, underpriced bottle of wine to cope with the stress of it all. As time passed, a terrifying revelation dawned on me: It wasn’t just a phase! I think the person who named the terrible twos is the same person who named morning sickness – neither is really an accurate description, because this was to be a permanent feature for years to come… Oh the horror!
There are a few things that puzzle me
about this phenomenon. Firstly, I’ve noticed
that people of that age tend to follow a similar modus operandi. Is it passed from one infant to another via secret hand signals during play dates? Is there an encrypted code in the nursery rhymes? Do they do a correspondence course? If so, I’m quite sure mine took her masters in the subject. Not only is she capable of flawless execution, but she’s also perfected finding public places in which to do it in order to achieve maximum embarrassment for her mother and myself. Secondly, how are they able to turn it on and off so quickly?
A conniption doesn’t build over a period of days. Instead, there’s a flash flood of rage that arrives in a moment, stays for a few minutes and dissipates within seconds. Right away the little love is smiling and laughing again. For a period, my wife had a theory that perhaps being a toddler equated to being bipolar, but we’ve never followed up on that. Thirdly, where is the consistency? On one day, the trigger might be that the straw in her milkshake isn’t the exact shade of pink she’d hoped for, despite the fact that half the said shake has already been consumed – this is a disaster of epic proportions. The next day, her entire collection of toys can be destroyed in a freak accident and she’ll be just fine. Lastly, why haven’t we invented some sort of medication to deal with these hysterics yet? Besides the earlier mentioned wine, that is.
I’ve decided to be Zen about the whole thing; to see the positive side. I have chosen to use it as an educational opportunity. I’ve read a few books on shrewd negotiating in business and life, but let me tell you that I’ve learnt more from dealing with an unruly toddler than any publication or mentor could ever teach me. I’ve learnt to delicately offer various alternatives in different ways, when to stand my ground, when to give in, the cunning use of distraction as a tool (although saying “look at Winnie-the-Pooh!” in a business meeting isn’t always advisable), the art of confusion by offering only two alternatives and forcing her to pick one and, of course, screaming out your demands over and over while kicking your legs and crying until everyone is embarrassed enough to give you what you want.