Toddler tantrums: How much is that baby in the window?
Life is a never-ending series of toddler tantrums.
It’s 8.30am and Daddy is just about to head to work after spending an hour of ‘quality time’ with a wailing toddler that has been demanding his Mama (napping after being up half the night with him). Now that we’ve all congregated in the bedroom, the same toddler is clinging to his father like a limpet and crying for his blue car downstairs. As Daddy extracts himself and gets ready to leave, we have a brief discussion that goes something like:
Toddler: Whine whine, moan moan, whine whine, moan…
Me: You do know that by the time you get home tonight I might have sold him, right?
Daddy: Fair enough. I’d understand. And he’s cute. You might get a good price for him.
Me: Only if I can get him to keep his mouth shut for the duration of the transaction. Otherwise I’ll have to pay them to take him off my hands.
Daddy: That’s true. Sure see what you can do.
Toddler: Whine whine, moan moan, whine whine, moan…
Off Daddy goes to work. I suspect that if I looked out the window right now I’d see him skipping up the road in glee at escaping the angry tears and shrieks. But I have a cross toddler glowering fiercely at me. No time for gazing out of windows.
Of course we’re joking about selling him… but the past couple of weeks have been… well, like living in a warzone. I’ve never seen Daddy so enthusiastic to leave for work before. Incessant whining and crying will do that for you. It started with the appearance of the final molars. Two of them breaking through and causing a lot of mayhem at nights. Then the nastiest cold on the block showed up a few days later and we still haven’t managed to kick it out of the house. There hasn’t been much sleep. Not even napping. An overtired toddler in pain and discomfort is a scary sight to behold. During the day absolutely anything can and will set him off. A nuclear meltdown occurs every couple of minutes. Tired parents don’t bring their A-game when it comes to distraction techniques. It’s not a good combination. And there’s no respite at night. Despite being exhausted, he keeps jolting back awake and upset. I’m so sick and weary of the whining that he’s barely getting started in the early hours of the morning and I feel like letting loose and demonstrating just how big a tantrum an adult can throw back at him. Except he would either cry more, or think it’s hysterically funny. Neither would be a desirable end result.
Staring down the barrel of an entire day with a toddler whose dial is set to ‘psychotic tyrant’ isn’t a pleasant prospect. A normally busy day of grocery shopping and housework becomes an impossibility as the demands become more and more illogical, and frankly impossible to achieve. At a certain point I have to accept that if we’re going to have a lunch or dinner then I’m just going to have to do the preparation with the sound of tears and wails drilling into my head, arms angrily tugging and slapping at my legs, a tear-stained face slobbering slimy snot and drool over any part of me that can be reached. Of course as soon as we’re out of the house with company to distract then everything’s all fine, and relatives look disbelieving as I try to explain the cause of my dishevelled and exhausted state. He’s also burns through all his store of goodwill for the day by the time I get him home.
I’m sure if I went researching that there’s some kind of developmental leap due around now. But I’m not going to. My husband will kill me if I tell him there’s yet another ‘wonder week’ going on. Because there’s always teething, or a growth spurt, or a developmental leap. It doesn’t really matter what we attribute the disruption to this time. The only option is to soldier on until it eventually passes. It will pass eventually, right? Like preferably before he leaves home? Who knows, but these days are trundling past ever so slowly. My energy levels deplete further after each difficult night. It would be nice to know there was some kind of improvement in sight. I miss sleeping in my bed. I’ve barely got any work done in the evenings because in the midst of all the hysteria, Daddy is not a welcome substitute for Mama.
It’s finally 8.30pm. Despite the tiredness, bedtimes keep getting delayed (by tantrums). It’s all one big vicious circle. There has been an awful lot of pasta consumed for dinner, followed by a large amount of yoghurt for the hungry toddler. But apparently he’s still starving and is demanding ‘more milk’. Toddler knows best, so I go along with it. We’ve been in the nursery for over half an hour already, but he’s getting sleepy now, another half hour and I’ll be free. Free! Probably only for an hour or two at best, but still, free! He spits up a little and I look at him in concern. Guzzling too much with a blocked up nose? As I ask him if he’s okay he casually leans his head back and ejects a flood of disgustingness in my general direction (don’t worry, no photos!). I quickly dodge and avoid getting a faceful. But my clothes, his pajamas, the chair, the carpet. Everything gets sprayed. Fistfuls of pasta chunks thunk across the carpet as a lullabye continues to drone on in the background, oblivious to the destruction. There’s a brief pause then while we both register with distaste, the sensation of warmth and wet soaking through our clothes.
I maneuver quickly to the bath and dangle his legs over the side, waiting to see if there are further explosions on the way. He giggles a bit, and starts wriggling. I disrobe him, to much complaint, and leave him roam contentedly. I remove my own sopping clothing and strip the chair. Now he’s running about trying to stick his hands in everything. So I confine him to the cot where he gaily bounces up and down while I scrape pasta scraps from the carpet and any other surface within the blast radius. By the time I’ve transferred the victimised materials to the washing machine and found something dry to wear myself, he’s in grand old form altogether. No sign that sleep is near. I place an emergency bucket beside me as we sit back down. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, that’s an awful lot of laundry. Another hour before I get a reprieve from it all then I guess. Should have sold him today, shouldn’t I?