I know, I know: it’s totally normal for toddlers to push limits, resist authority and generally have immense rushes of emotion which they are not adequately equipped to process. I know this in my rational mind. However, my rational mind becomes a difficult place to access when a small person is screaming, shouting, snotting and generally creating because he doesn’t want to wear a coat outside, even though it’s freezing, because his biscuit broke in half, or because the water in his cup was too wet. I am obviously not the only parent to experience this sort of situation (it’s a brain-befuddling toss-up between wanting to scream incoherently or laugh hysterically, in case you’re wondering), as is demonstrated by the existence of a site like Reasons My Son is Crying. There was a recent review in The Guardian of a book spin-off of this blog: the comments section contained a few rather snippy pronouncements, very much along the lines of this one:
Way to encourage your poorly disciplined brat. The reason they are acting like this is because you have been too soft and indulgent – taking photos of them somewhat reinforces that conception.
Now, I think I pull off my fair share of firm, disciplined parent moments, as do all of the parents I know. Even Stephen, the resident parental good cop, is perfectly capable of being severe when the occasion demands it. However, as other commenters on the Guardian review pointed out, there are times when no amount of calm, reasonable, logical argument works against the tide of scrotebaggery being unleashed by the smallest member of your family.
Eoin has been particularly tantrum-filled recently, and in the spirit of humourously defusing the situation, I hereby present some of the oddest reasons for his most furious outbursts of anger. Remember that I love him and I wouldn’t change him, but sometimes you just have to laugh at these things.
- The radio wouldn’t play the song he wanted. Neither would it repeat the one it previously played, which he actually liked. Rotten, stinking radio.
- I wouldn’t let him play with the blender (I also wouldn’t let him play with the oven, the breadknife or a pair of scissors, allow him to run his head repeatedly into a cupboard door, or stand by while he tried to hurl himself through the patio door). I am cruel and unfeeling.
- He wanted to be downstairs. “I want to go downstairs, Mummy! Why won’t you let me go downstairs?”. He was already downstairs.
- He wasn’t allowed to walk to his friend Noah’s house on his own. Not only is Eoin not yet 3, and far too small to walk anywhere on his own, but Noah lives about 8 miles away, on the far side of Cardiff.
- No matter how many times we explain (in simple terms) about the magnets on his toy trains, he cannot get two like poles to stick together. Turning one carriage round is not an option.
- An hour and a half of stories before bed was not enough: “But Ivor the Engine is a short book!”. 32 text-heavy pages may not be War and Peace, but it’s a lot for an over-tired toddler who has already had several other books read to him. “But Daddy said it was short! He did!” (He didn’t).
- We just barefacedly lied to him: we told him it was Sunday, when he knew fine well it was Saturday. How can he ever trust us again? (This one happened yesterday – note the date of today’s post).
One day, I’m sure, the tantrums will stop, and there will be a brief window of sanity before the teenage hormones kick in. Until that time, I’m going to keep trying to do the right thing, vis-à-vis sensible, fair and consistent parenting. There is, however, no way I won’t also be remembering the most ridiculous tantrum-pretexts, and laughing over them in the evenings. It’s really just self-preservation, you understand.