During the first few weeks of my being a mother of two (Irene is three-months-old now), I did go on quite a bit about how good and even-tempered Colum has always been and how demanding and irritable Irene was. I was unwilling to label my new infant daughter as colicky or to make any sweeping judgments about her character, though. In order to make clear the difference in temperament, then, I shoveled the praise on Colum and his innate goodness, exalted him to angelic status and really started to believe that my son was the epitome of a perfect child. He really hardly cried as a baby and remained in good spirits no matter how much I monkeyed with his sleep routine and was a reasonably well-behaved and charming toddler. He showed nothing but love and affection for his baby sister, and was developing a great sense of humour to boot.
Imagine my surprise, then, to discover that he is actually the devil incarnate. He has, recently, begun fully freaking out and completely losing it over the most routine activities. (And this is not due to a complete lack of discipline on our part, I assure you. We have enforced boundaries and limits and been reasonably consistent in doling out the appropriate consequences.)
Let me take you back, dear reader, to noon-time today. We strove forth into the snows and winds and made the one and a half block walk to the Annette Library for Toddler Time. Irene was bundled up in the Moby Wrap under my oh-so-stylin’ massive gray coat and Colum was on foot, it being too snowy for a stroller. We arrived late, but enjoyed a story and some good action-songs. (And lots of new kids books at Annette, too!) We then went upstairs to the main library to return old books and check out new ones and hang out with Gracie and her mom in the kids’ section. Then it was time to go.
I gave a two-minute warning. I tried counting with the threat of “no story before naptime” if I didn’t get co-operation. I tried hugs and words of comfort when all the afore-mentioned tactics just led to more tears and tantrums. I then handed Irene (who has been all sweet smiles and coos and cuddliness lately, btw) to Gracie’s mom while I wrestled Colum into his snowpants. Pretty sure that wasn’t the way to go, I tried taking Irene back and bundling us up and pretending to leave with hopes that he would quickly help get his boots and coat on. Nope. Enter my mom friend again to shove his boots on and wriggle him into his coat while I held him. (Note that little Gracie is waiting patiently in her snowsuit this whole time.) I then had to carry him, Irene strapped to my front, kicking and screaming out of the building. He let me put his mits on outside before throwing himself down in the snow and refusing to budge. Fine. I carry him kicking and screaming across Annette St. and let him stand crying on the corner while I start walking home. I am sure he will follow eventually. Wrong again: he starts running into the street as a massive dump truck rounds the bend. I run after him screaming and catch him just in time. I finally acquiesce and accept Gracie’s mom’s help as she carries Colum all the way home and I pull her sweet little girl in her sled. I then leave him to cry at the foot of the stairs (thankful, again, that it’s not a shared entryway) as I get lunch started. He eventually makes his way upstairs still riding waves of despair when Irene starts joining in. I end up turning on the TV while I feed Irene and put her down.
I return to find a co-operative and cheerful little boy who turns off the set himself when his show is over and gobbles down his lunch and eagerly brushes his teeth and even consents to half a story before nap because his sister has woken up screaming. We did talk about how his behaviour was not acceptable and why over lunch. I got an apology from him and an admission that his tantrums are no fun for anyone, not even him. Punishments of any kind seemed too far removed from the scene at this point, and I’m going to have to figure out a better way of dealing with these meltdowns while we are out. At least he napped.
(Image courtesy of www.ninocka.com.)