Toddlers be crazy. The sign of a good parent is your ability to keep your composure in the eye of the storm — and to keep all of your frustrating inner thoughts to yourself.
As the mother of a 3-1/2-year-old and a 2-year-old (I know, I know, I was pretty busy there for awhile), I can now confidently say I am a total pro at weathering the toddler tantrum. I can curl up into a ball and play dead on the floor with the best of ’em.
I remember when I was pregnant with my second son, every downtrodden parent with a little more mileage than me told me that having two kids close in age was really, really hard. Silly me — I chose not to believe them.
But now I understand exactly what these hollow-eyed parents were trying to tell me: Having one toddler is hard enough. Having two toddlers pushes you right to the brink of insanity and draws you back with your children’s adorably redemptice faces, again and again and again.
It’s enough to drive a sane mom crazy. If you have one toddler or two, my heart goes out to you. That first tantrum will scare the bejesus out of you as you wonder where you could have gone wrong to make your child act this way. By the 401st tantrum, you will have officially lost your will to live and everything will be smooth sailing from there.
You know your toddler is losing his shit when these thoughts run through your head.
1. I’ve got this
This thought is immediately followed by the little devil on your shoulder crying, “Mwah-ha-ha-ha,” with arms spread wide toward the sky. You tell yourself you’ve got this because you really don’t. Your toddler is about to own you.
2. This one isn’t that bad
If my toddler makes it through a tantrum without trying to kick me in the shins or break any decorative items in his reach just to show me that he’s really mad this time, I consider it a success. It’s amazing how much your parenting standards lower in just a few years.
3. This isn’t my child
When he cranks his tantrum up to 11, when his face turns blue and bloodcurdling screams come out of his lips, there is a split second when I really wonder: Is this my kid? I mean, I remember him sliding out of my vagina a few years ago, but I don’t even recognize this monster standing where my child should be.
4. He gets it from his father
I know tantrums are a totally normal part of toddler development, but there has to be a genetic component to this. The ear-piercing screams that follow when Netflix times out absolutely must come from my husband’s side of the family. I’m sure of it.
5. Maybe he doesn’t see me
He’s crying, he’s clawing at my legs and he’s begging for a popsicle. But if I stand really still and don’t make any sudden movements, I’m sure he’ll lose interest and go away. If I learned anything from watching Jurassic Park, it’s that angry dinosaurs toddlers can only see you when you move.
6. I’ll give him anything he wants
I have read almost every parenting expert’s article on how to wind down a toddler freak-out (including toddler cavemen talk, which did not work at all, thank you very much) and they all say the same thing: Don’t negotiate with little terrorists. That’s all fine and good, until you suspect you have gone deaf after hours of toddler wailing and your survival instinct kicks in. Please. Please. I’ll do whatever it takes. Want a cookie? Want to watch another movie? Want to go to Disney World? We can hop on a plane right now if you’ll just shut up for five minutes.
7. That wasn’t so bad
Ah, the final stage of coping with a toddler tantrum that every parent must revert to in order to preserve his or her sanity. Even if your toddler went totally ape-shit and embarrassed you by lying in the middle of the aisle at Target and refusing to move without a new toy, you tell yourself that it was just fine. Nobody was watching. Nobody cared. Everyone at Target was wearing earplugs. This denial coping mechanism works perfectly to help you sleep at night — until the next time.