Although Noah won’t be two for another few weeks, he’s already got the “terrible two’s” mastered. What happened to my sweet little boy? I mean, he’s still sweet MOST of the time, but these little tantrums are not fun. This is the same child that was WONDERFUL on our trip to Vietnam. He took the long plane rides, the jet lag, living in a hotel for three weeks, and long car rides to Zoe’s province and to Ha Long Bay all in stride. He hardly complained at all. Everyone commented on what a great kid he was. Now I give him milk when he would prefer to have juice and he breaks down into a screaming mess, with REAL TEARS and everything.
This morning was rough. I was taking him to school and was already a few miles away from our house when I realized that I had forgotten his lunch. I turned around to go back to get it. Since he had already finished the waffle that I had given him the first time we left the house, I grabbed a cereal bar for him when I ran in to get his lunch.
We got to his school 15 minutes later and he hadn’t even eaten a nibble of the cereal bar. Since he could not take his cereal bar into his class with him, and since I assumed he didn’t want it because he hadn’t touched it, I acted as a reasonable mother would and I took it from him. Well, apparently Noah thought that was an an entirely unreasonable thing for me to do. There he was, having a kicking screaming meltdown in the parking lot. My cousin Shannon and her son Michael were outside the school too. Noah is usually really happy to see Michael. In fact, when he sees just about any boy age four to ten he excitedly says, “Michael!” At that moment, however, he didn’t give a crap. There was no stopping his tantrum.
Realizing that he was not going to walk into school on his own, I fought against the weight of his jelly-like limp toddler body, picked him up, and carried him in. He continued to scream when I sat him down outside his classroom and took his coat off. He continued to scream as I took him into the classroom and handed him off to his teacher. He continued to scream as I kissed him goodbye. His teacher took him further into the room and handed him a toy he likes, and he stopped in a milli-second. How does he just turn it off that quickly?!
I said to his teachers, “He’s really good at this terrible two thing,” and one of them responded with the words that made me cringe: “We’ve noticed.” Ouch.
She went on to explain that he is having a hard time with transitions and that he has not been bringing home much artwork lately because they have difficulty getting him to go from play time to the art table. Then she must have seen the look on my face because she quickly tried to assure me how normal it is, that he doesn’t do it all day, etc. Still, it’s embarrassing and makes my stomach sink to think that my child is THAT kid.
I used to see kids throwing fits and think, “Why do their parents let them do that?” How quickly my perspective has changed. I will never look down on a parent with a screaming child again. I understand now. And, while I have been trying to comfort myself with the idea that this is only a phase, Christian pointed out the other day that we are going to be dealing with this phase for a while. As soon as Noah turns three, Zoe will turn two, and the “terrible twos” begin again. Ugh.