Keeping Mum

Dita De Boni looks at the trials and tribulations of being a parent.

Terrific and terrible twos

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I really thought my two year old would never be as described in countless parenting books. Stubborn. Unreasonable. Temperamental. Etc, ad infinitum.

Of course, he has, like most kids, always displayed some of these characteristics, but in enough moderation to make me think that - unlike other kids, of course - he would have the superior reasoning skills of someone at least twice his age.

Whereas, in fact, he was taking just that little bit longer to get to the temperamental twos than most!

Let me put in the usual disclaimers - I love my son. He can be adorable, funny, cute - and sometimes all at once. When kids start talking it is a joy, when their big personalities can find expression and you finally get a glimpse of what's been going inside that sandy little head for the last two years.

However, diligently teaching your child how to speak can also come back and bite you in the rear, especially when the most common words you hear are "no!" , "don't" and, at the moment in our house, "want toothpaste!!"

Unfortunately I've become something of a cliche - a frazzled stay at home mother who needs a drink and a cry every evening at 5pm. My husband, himself coming home looking less than fresh thanks to 5.45am starts with the self-same toddler, is met with a woman who appears to age an extra decade each time he leaves the house.

The reason is this: I'm in the wars all day long. Toddler wants my hot cup of coffee in the morning and can't have it. Cue screaming. Toddler refuses to have his nappy change. Cue moaning. Toddler refuses his breakfast and throws it on the floor. Cue laughing from toddler, crying from Mummy (almost).

Toddler refuses to get into his car seat. Cue threats to return him to his cot. And so it goes, seemingly all day long.

The other day, toddler refused to stay buckled into his car seat and actually wriggled mostly out of it and opened his door while we were driving around town. So if on a Sunday morning you were in St Heliers and saw a toddler hanging half out of a silver sedan while his mother did her best Indiana Jones routine, wrestling madly to shut son's door from her passenger seat, and ashen-faced father tried to keep control of the car on a corner while barking at son, well, that happy family portrait was us.

Today was another case in point of what toddlerdom can do to supposedly mature adults. I had taken my toddler and baby to a park in Mt Albert and we were busy playing, when toddler decided he wanted to go down the "big" slide. Getting up the slide, he paused at the top long enough for a row of other children to start queueing behind him. He then - naturally - refused to go down the slide. My exasperation got the better of me, and I refused to lift him down, demanding "come back down yourself then!" A horrified looking woman then stepped in and lifted my toddler down herself, shooting me very disapproving looks.

I suppose I did seem like a bit of a pushy stage mother, or perhaps someone who had taken Sir Brian Lochore's message to heart a bit too much and was trying to make my son a man at the tender age of two.

Either way, I pulled myself up short, thought about my behaviour, and spent the rest of the time at the park trying to rectify the impression that I was a harridan by shooting serene looks in the woman's direction, my son babbling happily beside me.

I hope she noticed!

Pictured above: Children playing in Jellicoe Park. Photo / Herald on Sunday

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