Oh, my god.
OH, MY GOD.
Did one of you happen to see my sweet little girl? The one who is kind and loving and nice and a good listener?
Because hot damn, I want her back.
Today, at a playdate, my best friend and I were getting ready to leave. We did all the "right" things: we gave warnings, we gave choices, we were loving but firm. And for our troubles, I got a handful of dirt thrown at me and she got an epic tantrum. And I truly believe we are both good moms. Really good moms. We've read the books (I freaking worship Love & Logic*) and gone to the seminars and followed our instincts. And pre-kid me would have judged the shit out of these two moms who couldn't get their two-year-olds to sweetly and obediently leave the park. Because through eight thousand hours of baby-sitting, I never had to live with one of these tiny terrorists.
If I'm being totally honest, I probably would have judged those moms just six months ago, too. I, somewhere deep inside, thought we had gotten off easy, because we had almost none of the "terrible" in terrible twos. There were tantrums here and there but parenting was still easy. Maybe I was just that awesome of a parent? Maybe she was just that awesome of a kid? But as we've gotten closer and closer to three, these glimpses of a child I don't know and at some points don't WANT to know keep appearing.
This age is hard, ya'll. It's like she's suddenly discovered that in her mind, she has all the power. And the problem is, SHE DOES. Because this girl does not give a shit about your discipline techniques. Take toys away? "PSH. I HAVE OTHERS," she says. Time out? "HILARIOUS." Physically forcing her to cooperate? "JUST TRY." She knows all of the exact right things to say to break my heart, all of the exact right things to do (or not do) to test my limits, and all of the exact right attitudes to throw out to make me want to scream. And drink a glass of wine. A big glass.
I am seriously at a loss sometimes as to what to do to combat this...this...toddler. She's just a two-year-old, how is she possibly besting me?!?!?! Theoretically I'm stronger and smarter with better self control. Sometimes I worry I'm raising a little psychopath, until I talk to another toddler parent and am assure that yes, their child too is a violent, whiney little f*ker. I had to use the edited version of that word because I feel bad calling my kid a f*ker, but seriously. Some days.
Carys, if you're 18 and reading this, be assured that I still loved you to freaking bits every single millisecond, you just made me work for it. You're such an amazing kid, truly. You're so smart and funny and strong and such an incredible little girl. And most of the time you are just the sweetest little ball of curly-haired awesomeness and you totally amaze me with the depth of your love.
But then I tell you that you can't have ice cream for breakfast and you lose your ever-loving mind. Or I need you to get out of the swing so I can lay baby sister down to sleep and you refuse and you hit me when I pick you up. Or I have the audacity to be sleeping in my own bed when you crawl into it at 6:30 in the morning and MY BLANKET TOUCHES YOU AND YOU ONLY WANT YOUR BLANKET OH THE HORRORS OH THE HUMANITY and you start kicking.
I was just listening to a story on NPR (yes, I'm one of those, sigh) about "Bad Babies" and a Yale researcher said that two is the most violent age and that the only reason the families of two-year-olds survive is because they aren't strong enough and don't have access to lethal weapons. And when I watch this small child flailing on the floor because I picked out the wrong pair of jeans, I kind of think that he's right.
Lucky for her, she also wraps her arms around my neck and pulls me in nose to nose and whispers, "I love you, Mommy." And lucky for her, she randomly tells me, "You're my favorite Mommy." And lucky for her, if I get the tiniest owie, she runs to the freezer to get me an ice pack and smother me in kisses and tell me it will be okay.
Lucky for her, I love the shit out of her for all those reasons and a million more.
(But you're on my list, kid....watch it.)
UPDATE: Hm. I just realized that this post and the "no naps" post go hand-in-hand. Did I just have a parenting breakthrough? I wonder how much of this is caused by being overtired. Probably a lot. Maybe I need to push naps harder or try to get her down to bed earlier. Experiment time!
*Regarding the "Love and Logic" series - not a paid advertisement or anything; it's truly one of my favorite parenting concepts. Big on real-life consequences and acting with empathy and love. I don't agree with every word on the page, but overall one of my favorite parenting books (and I seriously doubt there is any parenting philosophy or book out there that I'd agree with 100% - all kids and all parents and all families are different, obviously, and one book won't cover everything, duh). I have both "Love and Logic for Early Childhood" and the regular "Love and Logic" book, but they cover mostly the same information. I also just got their book about entitlement but haven't read it yet. Seriously, such a great concept.