parenting

“You’re not Daddy!”

"You're NOT Daddy!"

Perhaps I am now destined to spend the rest of my days wishing I had stubble, amongst other Ghostwriterdaddy attributes. For, you see, I have discovered lately that I have been committing the ultimate sin. I am not Daddy. *Gasp*I know, I know. You would never have guessed it, eh? But it’s true. My son has recently pointed it out to me and he is only two. He must be a genius.

This morning, like many mornings, we were awoken to cries of

“Daddy! Are you there?!”

and

“Daddy! I want to get up now!”

It was my turn. I left the baby sleeping and I crept into my beloved son’s bedroom with a smile already on my face as I imagined the early morning cuddles on the sofa we would have, followed by some early morning cartoons perhaps. But definitely the cuddles.

“You’re not Daddy.”

This announcement froze the smile on my lips but I would not be deterred.

“Daddy’s in bed,” I told him softly. “Mummy will take you downstairs.”

“Don’t want Mummy. I want my Daddy.”

Repeat three times

Eventually an ultimatum was issued and the toddler reluctantly accepted second best.

But why am I second best? It’s not fair. I try to be fun. We go out all the time while Daddy is at work. We go to groups, to the park, to splash in puddles, to collect worms. We play football in the garden, we dig up mud from plant pots and we walk in the pram to feed the ducks. We go to the woods, to soft play. We paint, we draw, we read stories, we sing songs and we dance. But at the end of all of this, when all my parenting/ teaching/ human empathy skills are spent… I am NOT Daddy.

The Big One was always a Daddy’s girl. I assumed the toddler would be a Mummy’s boy (but in a good way, not a wet lettuce). Perhaps this is my fault? We had a nice routine. My favourite part of the day was at bedtime, where I would sit on the sofa with my precious boy and enjoy cuddles before bed. He would rest his head on my shoulder as we climbed the stairs to bed. I would lie him down and wish him sweet dreams and he would smile sleepily. The last time I did that was the night before the baby was born.

Perhaps this is part of his terrible twos rather than the fact that he is unhappy being with me. It’s just the way it goes, I guess. I spend the first few months of their lives with them clamped to my chest at all hours, quite literally breathing life into them and they repay me by shunning me for the ‘more fun’ parent. Daddy. Ho hum…

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What to actually expect: the toddler years

 

Following on from What to expect when you’re no longer expecting, welcome to What to actually expect: the toddler years.

Age of child: aprox 18 months+

Your child will be able to:

 

  • reduce you to tears on more than one occasion with incessant whining, consistently frequent tantrums and the inability to make up his mind
  • reduce any siblings to tears with constant hair pulling
  • reduce your partner to tears with frequent ‘clinginess’ by way of punishment for leaving the room
  • reduce himself to tears for not being able to get his own way or even to make up his mind exactly what his own way actually is
Your child may be able to:
  • climb on to any piece of furniture in order to reach danger/ mess/ chocolate
  • decide what he wants to eat for breakfast, in order to smear it all over the dining room table and walls
  • climb out of his cot and dive head-first into the wall
  • jump from one sofa to the other
  • fit into the baby’s various chairs and seats, regardless of whether or not his weight will break them
Other things you may notice:
  • your partner will be capable of more and more creative ways to leave the immediate area. Simply ‘nipping to the loo’ no longer provides the peace it once did. You may notice he wants to go out more, works later more often, or even book lads holidays away
  • you suddenly have grey hairs and wrinkles
  • you’ve started quoting from the ‘things my parents said to me and I swore I would never say to my kids’ bible
  • you can only spend two minutes in the bath, tops, before it all kicks off downstairs
  • meals can only be eaten standing up whilst refereeing the latest spat
  • most days will be spent staving off the next tantrum
  • crying becomes the soundtrack to your day
  • there is an increase in phonecalls from important people, such as the dentist, Father Christmas and The Strict One at nursery
What you can do:
  • try lying in a darkened room for a while, until the phase passes
  • take up a hobby, such as travelling overseas
  • light some candles and pray for the return of your sanity
  • keep fit and active: it’s useful for chasing, ducking and storming off

Remember: this is all just a passing phase! Your loving child will return to normal at aprox 21 years of age.

 

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Is my child unhappy?

I read somewhere that the only way to solve a tantrum is to make your child happy. Totally, 100% happy. Whether that’s true or not, and whether anyone can really be 100% happy, I’m not sure. But I’m starting to think there might be something in it. When I look at the toddler during one of his many, many tantrums, I do wonder whether he is unhappy. Of course, at that moment in time with his red face and his kicking legs, he isn’t happy. He’s incredibly angry and frustrated about the fact that his (too small) grey coat is in the wash and he’s going to have wear his blue one instead. He’s also distraught that this exchange of coats needs to happen really quickly so that his sister isn’t late for school. But the question I keep asking myself: is my child unhappy? It keeps bobbing back to the surface.

He cries a lot. He screams a lot. He lashes out and he uses the word NO a lot. Does that mean he is unhappy?

These tantrums are getting longer and louder and more upsetting. Am I a terrible mother for denying his right to eat jam sandwiches in the living room rather than the kitchen? I know all about picking and choosing your battles, but is it ok to insist on certain levels of behaviour from a two year old?

I don’t believe in the naughty step or time out. I think he’s too young for sticker charts and rewards. It’s not short term enough. Distraction used to work.

“Oh, look! LOOK! There’s a dinosaur outside!”

But he’s wise to that now.

Persuasion worked sometimes, especially if you offer an choice.

“Ok, you can either brush your teeth, or you can stay here while we go outside to play.”

But he’s wise to that now.

Bribery worked sometimes.

“If you brush your teeth, you can come outside to play.”

But he’s wise to that now.

Firm-handedness has never worked.

“Come and brush your teeth please.”

He’s always been wise to that.

One thing I discovered today that will never ever work and will always always make you feel like the most terrible, awful parent ever: arguing back and even *whispers* shouting back.

I was never going to be one of those parents you see in supermarkets who lose their temper and screech down the aisles for their offspring to “behave or else!” I’m still not one of those parents, but today I came close. Thank goodness we were indoors and nobody- hopefully- could hear. I shouted. I’ve been hanging my head in shame ever since.

Is my child unhappy? No, I don’t think so. But he might be if I don’t find a way to deal with his more challenging moments soon. He’s just two. He’s normal. It’s me who needs to adapt and change a little. It’s me who needs some more tools in my belt and a little more patience.

 

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