Surviving toddlerhood

My little guy has only been a toddler for five months.  I saw him reach the bittersweet milestone with his first few steps.  Within a few days he was walking steadily on his pudgy little feet.  With his newfound independence came happiness, as he explored his surroundings.  Happiest in the backyard, he’d toddle around the plants and through the washing dangling from the line.  It seemed that with toddling also came his idea that he could do what he liked.  I usually let him do what he likes, but I make sure he’s safe, which of course has lead to tantrums when he can’t do what he wants.  I know tantrums are a natural part of growing up, but when they hit you don’t really expect it.

It was yesterday that I experienced our first public tantrum.  I’d been advised to make sure he’s safe and then ignore the behaviour until he’s calmed down, which is what I tried to do.  We were in our local hardware store, and my little boy was happily pushing a miniature shopping trolley through the aisles as I looked for fertiliser and lawn seed.  He was thrilled to have some items in his trolley and we made our way to the front of the store where the checkouts stood.  I helped my boy wheel his trolley into the trolley bay and took the items out to put onto the checkout conveyor belt.  Well, didn’t I make two mistakes within seconds of one another?

Apparently, the trolley didn’t need to go back and I should’ve left the lawn seed where it was.  Sigh.

The crying began, and soon I had a writhing octopus of a child in my arms.

I wanted to try and console him, but he continued and wouldn’t settle.  He arched his back and threw his head back until I could see his top teeth through his tears.  I couldn’t support his weight while  he thrashed and tore at me.  I placed him carefully on the ground.  I felt terrible.  Everyone was watching me put my child on the floor while he was distressed.  “I am a good mother, I am a good mother”, I repeated to myself while I tried my best to ignore not only his behaviour but the staring, laughing, pointing and whispered comments.  It was time to move forward in the line.  My boy was laying on his back screaming at the ceiling.

I was never going to have a child who had tantrums.  My boy was going to be happy and understanding.  My friend told me that because she’d compromised on most of the things her son wanted in order to allow him to have what he wanted, within reason, he’d never really had a tantrum.  I thought I could do the same.  I don’t think my son is spoiled.  I think I’ve tried my best to raise him in his short life to learn boundaries… the best you can teach them at 17 months of course.  But I had no such luck, yesterday anyway.  I ended up carrying him horizontally to the car and strapping him into his seat, all the while he was still screaming.  After turning the music up and singing along to try and distract him he decided to calm down.  One second on, one second off. Happy, sad, within seconds.  Such is the life of a toddler.

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