I think half the problem is that I’m used to people exaggerating.
As a parent, I’d worked my way through all the stages that are supposed to be hell on earth: sleepless nights, teething, separation anxiety, having your shoes filled with sick… the whole gamut. And the thing was, that despite all the hype, none of these events was quite as bad as I’d expected. Like the worst type of film – all the best bits were in the trailer, leaving my partner and I feeling slightly underwhelmed to experience the supposed horror of the real thing.
It was with this (understandable) sense of over confidence that I greeted the my son’s (inevitable) turning from 1 to 2. It was simply a number, I told myself. A personality doesn’t change THAT much as the result of just getting a little bit older. What was the worst that could happen? After all, we’re just talking about a tiny tot.
HOW WRONG WAS I?
We’ve had a MAJOR case of the TERRIBLE TWO’s. I mean, MAJOR – like they’ll make a film about it in the future (I’m hoping I’ll be played by Chris Evans – Captain America, not the TFI Friday guy). In all the chaos, I’ve been left reeling – and greying. People were not exaggerating. Dealing with a 2 year-old is about the most challenging thing I’ve ever done (and I’ve Thunderbird’s Tracy Island with no instructions).
Here’s my 5 reasons the Terrible 2’s are turning my hair grey:
My name is invoked somewhere between 10 and 20 times in every 60 second cycle. When my son first uttered my name, it was one of the most special moments of my life. NOW, I’m beginning to feel like the constant screech of ‘DADDY!’ is some sinister form of torture. Worst of all, replying to the incantation does not stop my name being used in vain.
“I’m here, what is it you want?”
The thing is, he didn’t want anything. What he wanted to do was repeatedly call my name. Simple as that.
In the mid 90’s a pop combo called 2-Unlimited had a hit with a track called ‘No Limit’. It was a groovy little number (how cool do I sound?) with a very repetitive verse (leaving some wags to rename it ‘No Lyrics’) that went:
“No, no. No, no, no, no. No, no, no, no. No, no, there’s no Limits!” 2 Unlimited
The song repeated this chant, over and over again. Yet the mind-numbing effect of this anthem is nothing compared trauma caused by the number of times I hear the word ‘No’ coming from my son every day. It’s like a new toy, he’s mastered ‘No’ and he’s going to use it at every given opportunity – just because he can.
“Would you like some breakfast?”
He was eating moments later.
“Have you done a poo?”
“Are you at your happiest when attempting to exert power over your poor knackered father?”
A definite lie.
One minute you’re teaching your child a word, the next they’re using it against you to make your brain melt. Sad times.
3: “THE TEARS OF A CLOWN”
I would estimate, that, in the average day, my son cries (at least) 50 times. Let’s be clear, it’s very rare for these outbursts to signify any genuine unease or an issue. Yes, there may be the occasional fall at the playground – for which a cuddle proves a suitable antidote – but these events are in the minority.
The truth is, that during this wonderful second year, tears have simply become punctuation in life. Any transition between one situation and another is ALWAYS marked with tears – even if the move is towards something he enjoys.
- Tears to get in the pram, to go to the park.
- Tears getting onto the swings – this isn’t happening quickly enough.
- Tears to get off the swing.
- Tears for ice cream.
- Tears because the ice cream isn’t coming quickly enough.
- Tears when he’s eaten all the ice cream.
You get the idea. God, this constant crying is exhausting. I can’t wait for it to be over – I suspect it may take a few years.
4: “THE TANTRUM”
To be clear, ‘The Tantrum’ is a distinct and separate beast to the ordinary (everyday) punctuating cry… These incidents come less frequently and linger longer in the mind.
Have you ever seen footage of 12 men trying to move an alligator – with each pinning down a separate section? The reptile inevitably attempts to break for freedom and everyone involved soils themselves. Toddlers tantrums are (almost) exactly like that.
For me, they usually occur when trying to transition my son in and out of his buggy. He’ll arch his back, scream, kick and flail his arms about wildly. Leaving a poor sap like me, trying to stop him from flipping the pram over, avoid his flying limbs and placate him. These incidents exclusively occur in the presence of an unknown elderly lady, who will stop and watch with a shocked expression as you try and get the writhing mass of tot into their mode of transportation. I’m pretty sure that woman is ferried around all day to make parents feel even worse during these tricky incidents. She deserves a medal… (I’m being ironic).
These tantrums, which get increasingly severe in scale (and volume) are a little frustrating to parents – to say the least. I quite fancy throwing a tantrum myself and seeing how my son reacts – probably it’ll merely set off an unending volley of ‘Daddy’s in my direction.
5: ENERGY OVERLOAD
Nature is cruel, isn’t it? I remember thinking that, as a kid, watching those David Attenborough documentaries – where something cute gets eaten by something less cute.
This cruelty extends to the life of parents. Just at the point when parents, after 2 and a bit years of no sleep and a crescendo of exhaustion manifesting itself, have no energy reserves left – the child suddenly turns into the Duracell BLOODY Bunny! There’s no stopping them – bouncing off the walls, refusing to sleep, thinking everything (especially anything dangerous) is hilariously funny.
If Mother Nature had any self-respect, she would have organised it so the energetic bit of childhood was in the baby stage (when the parents still had some get up and go)! How that woman sleeps at night is beyond me (she probably better than I do)!
So there you have it. Coming together as a perfect storm, these elements have turned this tired daddy into an (increasingly) grey fellow!
Just you wait, by the time my little one is 3, I’ll have gone ‘Full Schofield’!
Until the next time!