I have been waiting for the terrible two's to show up like one waiting for the other shoe to drop. The experts warn they can show up as early as eighteen months and can certainly last through a child's third birthday. Jack, however, has been amazingly agreeable, even reasonable, for a two-year-old. He has seemed to understand when I explain why we can't do something he wants to do, like go swimming when it's dinner time or feed the dog an entire box of dog treats. He's been going to bed without complaint and happily sitting down at the table for dinner... until now. Yes folks, we have finally hit it. Just when I thought we were in the clear, the terrible two's have shown up - a day late, but certainly not a dollar short. There have been crying fits over my not carrying him when my arms were full of other things and hysteria over broken toys that could not be fixed. There have been all-out, fall-on-the floor-and-kick-and-scream tirades over seemingly small things. Example: Earlier today, Jack was playing with a new fire truck my mom bought him. He was ecstatic over how the ladder extended far over the truck, until he realized the ladder would not stay erect when fully extended. I suggested we prop it up with something. My dad found a wadded piece of paper to stuff at the base to keep it up, but Jack kept whining and getting more and more worked up as he was intent that the ladder stay up with no help from other objects. It's almost like he wanted or needed to be upset. So he ended up lying in the hallway with his head on his blankie, crying that he "no like ladder fall down!" over and over again.
I found, in these situations, it's best to leave him alone and let him calm down on his own. Sometimes I suggest he get his blankie, lie on the couch or take deep breaths, but he really seems to calm down quicker if I leave him alone and go off and do my own thing so he can come find me when he calms down. This is all well and good if we are at home and not in any hurry to go anywhere, but it can be really irritating to have him melt down over something that is a physical impossibility when we are trying to get in the car and go somewhere. And his irrational expectations and dramatic reaction to things not going how he wants don't fit well with my mid-pregnancy super-irritable state. It really doesn't take much to push my buttons these days. I remember this from being pregnant with Jack. And if expired coupons, people driving slow in the left lane or inane t-shirt slogans can get me going, imagine what a screaming two-year-old can do.
When I do feel my hackles rising in response to Jack's tantrums or antics, I try to follow my own advice: I take deep breaths and lie on the couch if I can... maybe I should get myself a blankie, too. And, if by "blankie" I mean "glass of wine," it would probably really work. *Sigh* Since I'm abstaining for pregnancy, I guess I'll have to quell my irritation au natural for now with good ol' relaxation. It's probably better for me anyway than drowning my stresses in alcohol, but I'm not making any promises come next spring.
A few days ago, I was making quesadillas (spelling??) for dinner. I was excited, because I thought they'd be really good, but I really f-ed up Jason's as I was flipping it and turned it into a scrambled mess. Pregnancy irritation combined with fatigue did not allow me to cope well with this minor setback. I took many MANY deep breaths in attempts to calm myself and keep from taking it out on Jack who was asking repeatedly, "Why Momma breathing so hard? What happened to quesadilla? Why Momma getting upset?" I held in my anger, trying to respond rationally to his questions and finally told him I didn't want to talk about it - that I just needed a few minutes. Then, there was a pause in our conversation as I tried to repair my culinary mess and Jack examined the portion of refried beans I'd already served him. He pointed at the beans and very objectively asked, "Momma, what this big plop?" I burst out laughing and my cloudy disposition was shattered. That's the thing about two-year-olds and bad moods: so often they are the cause, but so often the cure as well.