Whenever we talk to parents of toddlers the pre-loaded question that spews out of us is “have we hit the terrible twos?”
No matter what the child in question is up to, be that sitting quietly colouring or climbing the walls like an arachnid on rocket fuel and fiz wiz. I’ve had approximately 7 million people ask me if River is going through the terrible twos recently, and I’ve even used it myself and the truth is… he is two and sometimes it can be terrible.
He surprised us when he was around 18 months old by counting to ten. “He’s a genius!” I exclaimed with pride. It turns out he has picked it up from the numerous youtube videos of grown adults opening kinder eggs and overpriced LOL surprise balls that are always drowned out with obnoxiously loud soundbites of counting. 1 hour of screen time a day you say? Bite me. My kid can count. But not on demand, I recently asked him to count for me and started him off “River, can you count to ten with mummy? One… Tw-”
“No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! Nooooo!!” Ah well, at least there was ten.
The tantrums are now coming in thick and fast but it’s understandable. It must be so frustrating when you want a banana but your mum keeps giving you a yoghurt.
“HADSKDBFDFGHH” *hands yoghurt*
“H-A-D-S-K-D-B-F-D-F-G-H-H” *hands spoon*
“HADSKDBFDFGHH!!!!!!!!!” Annnnd then the tears. I understand it, if I ordered lasagne verde at a restaurant but was presented repeatedly with tempura prawns I too would cry hysterically. But at least when I place my food orders I enunciate.
I’m particularly enjoying River’s very public protests to my requests. As you know we are avid con-goers (nerds, if it pleases you) and recently went to London Film and Comic Con with the intention of meeting some Game of Thrones cast members. Whilst GoT may be the best thing on TV, it’s no Peppa Pig as far as River is concerned so we went prepared with everything a little man could possibly want to keep him entertained in what I would describe as a “mummy day out.”
We met Gemma Whelan (Yara Greyjoy from GoT) who was so lovely and reassuring about life with a toddler and we laughed about early wakes and generally about how difficult small children are along with the joys of breastfeeding. River tried to give her a fiver which I had handed to him to stop him screaming moments before we got to the front of the queue. All very sweet and civilised.
Cut scene to our photo op with Gemma who spotted River and I and welcomed us so sweetly. River was eating an apple (another peace keeping bribe) and Frankie misunderstood my eye contact panic for “please-come-and-grab-him” but what I meant was “I’m-sneaking-him-in-to-this-photo-for-free-so-act-cool” and ended up knocking River’s apple out of his hand. Tantrum ensues. Gemma panicked. I threw River to Frankie as quickly as I could. Gemma had to make a loud speech about how she hadn’t made the toddler cry, it was the apple. But really it was crime. (Sorry Gemma, I hope we’re still cool.)
To quote Yara “what is dead may never die” and I’m so numb to all this now I just sashayed out of there without a care in the world, screaming toddler and fluffy apple in tow.
Anyone who I’ve spoken to recently will be bored to death of hearing how much River is now into snails. They are like his baby crack habit and we can’t leave the house without him running around the corner of the house to look for them because he once saw one there. We’ve had a few in the street tantrums because there was no snail to be gawked at and I can’t explain to him that we can’t insist the snail stays put for him to look at whenever he fancies. One snail he really took a liking to was there for a few days which we thought was odd. Turns out it’s dead. Not to worry, River has no idea and merrily shouts “HALLO NAYO!” every day as he leaves the house. RIP little buddy, your death has not been in vein – you are keeping our shit together until we at least get in the car.
With the ever developing mind of a small person, curiosity is now in full gear. River will see something he likes (for example, a digger) far, far away from where we are (for example, on the safety of a pavement) and will cross a perilous path to get to it without a care in the world (for example, an extremely busy car park.) He cannot understand why boring old stuffy mummy will grab him by the arm and scream “DO NOT JUST RUN IN FRONT OF THAT CAR” whilst simultaneously flipping off the person who beeped at us because they were minding their own business and trying to park but almost landed themselves a manslaughter charge on account of my unrestrained pest. More tears.
Sometimes I cannot wait for him to go to bed, but even that is quickly becoming one of the least fun parts of the day.
“River, time for a bath. Let’s get your clothes off.”
“NOOOOOOOOO!” *holds on to the bottom of his clothes like I’m a bad person*
*30 minutes and one bath later*
“River, let’s get nappy and pyjamas on please.”
“NOOOOOOOOO!” *throws all neatly laid out items over the balcony*
Which fucking is it? Do you want to be dressed or do you want to be naked?!
The only good thing about the tantrums is working out what this frustrated little person needs and solving it for them. There is no greater feeling. It’s like cracking the da Vinci code on your own without a transcript. The gratitude when something computes between us is second to none and there is nothing better than a hug when we get something right.
All in all, it’s not so terrible. I’m sure soon enough he will be able to tell me to fuck off with the fucking yoghurt and get his own banana.
Written by Stephany Donaghy-Sims for her blog, The Milky Gay.