I am so tired. Not the intense newborn oh-did-I-just-put-my-car-keys-in-the-fridge tired but a weary, exhausted worn down by a toddler tired.
Call me naive but I hadn’t anticipated that this stage would be quite so draining. It’s not as if Hector is behaving particularly naughtily at the moment nor is he being extraordinarily more difficult than most two year olds but most days feel as if I’m wading through treacle. Everything (and I mean everything!) is a battle, a series of compromises that we have to work through together to complete even the simplest of tasks.
I remember, back in my corporate days, attending a course where I learnt that a truly successful negotiation is when both parties feel like they’ve come out on top. I’m not exactly sure how Hector feels but I can definitely say that I am not winning at Life. Why is it that I need to ask him (plead with him?!) to put his coat on/change his nappy/get his shoes/stop biting his top multiple times. Why does everything need to be such hard work?
I don’t have any memories of my youngest sister being this difficult – there are eight years between us and I can soundly recollect so much of her toddler stage. From memory she was a sassy, sparky and very intelligent little girl who responded to you in an instant without any aggro or answering back. My mum however tells me otherwise…She says we all ‘had our moments‘ but equally appreciates that Hector can be especially testing.
Only yesterday I sat exasperated when he refused to eat the plainest of pasta shells sprinkled liberally with cheese (he LOVES cheese!)…
Hector: “I dun lik’it”…
Me: You haven’t even tried it.
Me: Please eat the pasta.
And so on and so forth. I mean what kid doesn’t like pasta? Answer mine…Is 4.30pm too early for a triple gin and tonic?
If I wasn’t so close to crying I’d laugh from his comic timing because he is funny. Hilarious even. It’s like sometimes he has the mental age of a 21 year old male in a 2 and a half year old body. All too often Ste and I will sit smirking behind hands or trying to stifle a giggle. I’m not sure if Hector is aware of this but I do know he loves making us laugh.
But there are days when I’m frustrated. Irritated by how difficult it can be simply getting up, dressed and breakfasted in the morning. There are days when I feel like growling at him and there have been occasions I’m ashamed to admit where I’ve shouted. And he’s cried. Like really cried. And then I feel like crummy, sh*tty mummy.
I appreciate also that this tussle of wills is simply a part of growing up, of testing boundaries, of asserting independence. Of learning that he is his own person and that he can in part exert his will. And for that I absolutely want to encourage him to find out who he is and begin his journey of standing on his own two feet albeit with teeny tiny baby steps at this stage. It’s just that I’d rather it didn’t happen prior to getting to nursery and that every once in a while he would just say ‘ok mummy’ rather than fighting me.
Eventually I ‘win’. I manage to get him dressed…usually with the promise of going somewhere exciting or on a conditional basis…i.e. no you can’t go in the garden in just your nappy, you have to get dressed first. But it’s not without an element of resistance first…which could be anything from ‘no, mummy’ to a full on tantrum. I also know the importance of standing firm, of providing those firm boundaries for him to push against so that he feels secure and develops appropriately and I more than have to strength to consistently do this. I’m just so weary of it all though.
Ste has a slightly different approach to me in that he chooses to pick his battles. He laughs at most frustrating situations which in turn relaxes Hector and makes him much more amenable to our desires and demands. I suppose it’s just different personalities…I’m definitely more ‘stressy’ than Ste but then I’m dealing with so much more of the day to day than he is. I also think that mums and dads deal with things differently too. Apologies for the mass generalisation there but I do feel that there is something in it.
So I guess this post really is just me ranting. Of hoping that perhaps some of you are going through this too? How do you deal with it? Can you share any amazing tips to help combat resistance? Have you mastered the art of negotiation with a toddler yet? Answers on a postcard or in the comments box below. I’d love to hear from you!