Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Lessons in parenting from a one year old

I'm back again. Call it a need to overcompensate for the three months of complete silence but I just can't stay away tonight.

So for anyone who has been paying attention recently, you would know I am elbow deep in the middle of raising a toddler. A toddler who has hit the terrible twos with such gusto you'd think there was an award given at the end of it. For the past two years I have tried to prepare myself for the first glimpse of the monster that would take over my lovely daughter for the next two years, but nothing in the world can prepare you for this. Not even babysitting my wonderful nieces and nephews when they were two (or still are in one niece's case) was enough to even make me aware of what I was in for.

Of course it doesn't help that most children behave better for the babysitter than they ever do for their parents, even if the babysitter is a close family member. So apart from the occasional bout of tears when they wouldn't get their way, my eldest niece and nephew were an absolute dream for me during the terrible twos. Of course I got to hand them back to their parents after a few hours and return to my blissfully ignorant life as a single and carefree woman. These days I don't have the same luxuries and instead I am the one being handed a screaming and belligerent toddler who is both angry at me for ignoring her and begging me for cuddles at the same time. Top that off with the sudden and urgent clingyness which means that not even her father is good enough for cuddles any more and you end up with one very stressed and frustrated mum who can't even use the toilet alone anymore.

Dinner time is usually the worst time as most mums will attest. It is the end of the day, you have been chained to each other for up to ten hours already if you gave birth to the most dreaded of children, an early riser, and you now need to juggle the task of playing with fire while distracting a tired and demanding diva with pleas to go back into the lounge room and watch Bananas in Pyjamas while you get dinner ready. And then after half an hour of prepping and cooking the meal (or five minutes of jamming it into the microwave and pacing the kitchen while you wait for the bell to ring), your spawn of Satan darling child becomes a haughty food critic, turning their nose up at your offering and pushing the plate away. (Or worse putting it in their mouth then spitting it straight out again and holding it out to you horrified, as if you had just tried to poison them.)

We had gotten to this taste test and spit out point in our evening last night when I finally snapped and my head exploded. I had run out of ideas at this point for how to get Miss K to eat her pastie and I was exhausted. I had tried emotional blackmail, I had tried reasoning, I had tried bribing, I had even tried yelling. She just sat in her chair looking at me like I had just told her the truth about Santa and crying. Given that the last weapon in my armory had been defeated I finally had to give up and walk out of the room before the whole ordeal escalated into anarchy and name calling. I decided to head to my bedroom for a quiet minute to collect my thoughts and have a quick cigarette. I had almost finished the smoke when I realised that things were quiet. Giving yourself a haircut with scissors you found under the table quiet. I rushed to the lounge room to see exactly what Miss K had managed to destroy in my absence only to find her sitting quietly in her chair eating the last few crumbs off her plate.

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I had won the battle, but I still can't figure out if I've won the war. Did Miss K finally start eating because I had finally gotten off her back about eating and she could now enjoy her dinner in peace? Had she forgotten that five minutes ago she hated pasties and decided she was hungry enough to eat just about anything? Or did she finally realize that her darling and eternally youthful mother was indeed right to lecture her about eating her vegetables because they are just so gosh darn healthy and tasty? I can't for the life of me guess the answer and Miss K certainly isn't one to discuss the motives behind her actions so she's absolutely no help to me right now.

I have decided for now not to look a gift horse in the mouth and simply celebrated the fact that she went to bed with a tummy full of (mostly) healthy food. Now all I can do is prepare myself for the next episode of "I'm two and I know what I want, and I want it NOW" As long as she doesn't look at me like this again I can overcome anything...

You would think after two years I'd have an easier time saying no to this face. It never gets easier.
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