The Mummy Diaries: Two babies – Week 53

The Mummy Diaries: Two babies – Week 53

by Emma Hargan
article from Tuesday 9, July, 2019

WHEN YOU HEAR the words ‘Uh Oh’ from the next room. This can mean anything from retrieving a toy dropped down the back of the sofa to possibly having to change our identities and move house after flashing one of the neighbours from the living room window. And that’s just James! No, in all honestly, after the last week, I’m starting to freak outwonder what the next toddler phase will bring. Hard going doesn’t quite cover it. More like an endurance test – that I haven’t quite won yet.

I’m not sure where this crazy behaviour has sparked from. I don’t know if it’s being unsettled because of the holiday, or maybe a full moon or just another delightful toddler stage. When I say Jamie changed into an alien overnight, I mean exactly that. 

Sunday evening. The last time we saw our lovely, calm, affectionate boy. After our usual busy Waltons weekend out and about, we had a nice dinner, then a bit of playtime and reading books. Then bath time, cuddles and bed. 

Monday morning began like any other morning. James was getting ready for work, I was fixing Jamie and Lily’s breakfast and the kids were sat in their seats looking forward to the food. Everyone was happy, nice and quiet like it was feeding time at the zoo. Once Jamie was finished, he put his bowl and spoon into the sink and went into the living room to play. Lily was still polishing-off her chopped up banana and I was still on my first cup of coffee. That was pretty much the highlight of the day. 

It didn’t take long for Jamie to then have his first strop. The batteries had run out of his toy car. Disaster! Thankfully, we had some more in the drawer so I was lured into that false sense of security that I had averted a meltdown in time. No such luck! Lily had finished her breakfast and was making her way through to the living room to get to her toy box. With my second cup of coffee in hand and thinking I was now ready to face the day, James said his goodbyes and left for work – and all hell broke loose. 

Jamie had found another toy that needed more batteries but unfortunately this time, we were out. Trying to explain to a two year old that his toy needs batteries and will have to wait until we’re out at the shop is like flicking the nuclear switch on an atomic bomb. The shouting started first, then the toy getting ricochet across the room. That’s usually the height of it but I didn’t react. Jamie was furious. I started to walk away and that’s when we literally hit a new temper tantrum. Jamie in his rage at me not reacting, walked over to Lily and pushed her over. Now obviously I couldn’t let this go unnoticed. Poor Lily! I ran over to her and lifted Lily up and gave her a cuddle to calm her down while roaring at Jamie that he can’t do that and he was very naughty. Both kids were now roaring their heads off. Great! Never mind another cup of coffee, at this rate I was going to need a glass of wine and it was only 8.30am!

I would like to be able to tell you that the day only improved from here. But no. Jamie pretty much spent the day winding me up, crying, screaming and fighting with Lily. I had tried all my usual diversion tactics like playing out in the garden, taking them out for a walk, watching DVD’s and even YouTube on my phone. Usually these things tire them out and distract them from pending tantrums. Not today. To say I was glad to see James walk through the door was an understatement. By 8pm, I was happy to see the kids into bed and although it had been a stressful day, tomorrow was a new day!

Tuesday morning. The kids woke at 7.30am, so not a bad start. Breakfast passed without a glitch, James left for work and the kids were happily playing with their toys in the hall. All was going so well until it was time to get dressed. Jamie had decided that he wasn’t wearing clothes today so after several laps of running around the house trying to get his trousers on, I was starting to get annoyed and ready to lose the rag. I managed to hold it together while what felt like wrestling with a wild animal but was just trying to get Jamie dressed and then it happened. All I did was take a wet wipe and went to clean his face and you would think I was approaching my toddler with a chainsaw! He went crazy, ran past Lily and pushed her over. Right, enough was enough! I emptied all the toys out of Lily’s playpen and lifted Jamie into it. I needed a naughty ‘area’ and fast! Jamie threw a wobbly but I left him to it for a few minutes until he calmed down. I would like to tell you that the day improved, but it didn’t. Jamie spent a lot of time in the naughty pen for the rest of the day. 

That evening, after we got the kids to bed and after I had had a cry while annoying myself that I’m a shit mummy, I sat down to my laptop and Googled ‘two year old being aggressive with younger sibling.’ Why oh why do we do this to ourselves? It’s a bit like Googling the cause of having a headache, and before you know it, you have a brain tumour. So, after I had ruled out our son having a personality disorder, sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies, I eventually got to the Mummy Forums. Thankfully, we weren’t alone. The amount of parents that wee either going through this or had experienced it before was overwhelming and as a result made me much more relaxed, as apparently it is a common phase particularly in boys with a younger sibling. It’s a jealousy trait and most commonly affects toddlers between the ages of three and five years old. Of course the way I was reacting was totally the wrong response. Our cycle of events was usually Jamie losing the plot and pushing Lily. Then me lifting Lily while shouting at Jamie and trying to calm Lily down while ignoring Jamie having his tantrum. According to the ‘experts’, this was the worst thing to do.

Of course it is. Okay, but at this point I was ready to try any tactics I could before things got any worse and I was frightened that Lily was going to get hurt at some point. 

So the advice was to never give the toddler a second chance. For example, if they hit or push, do not say to them, ‘If you do that again, you’ll be in trouble.’ This is effectively telling the toddler to do it again before there are any consequences. OK, first thing I’m doing wrong.

Secondly, move the sibling to a safe place and providing they aren’t hurt, leave them there and go over to the aggressive child, go down to their level and calmly but sternly tell them, ‘I know you’re angry but you do not hit your sister.’ OK, this one I do but I maybe say it more at a level that dogs in the next estate would hear me after I’ve gone bat-shit crazy.

Then place them on the naughty step or whatever you have to hand for a minute of every year of their age. Ok, maybe I’ve been keeping Jamie in the ‘naughty playpen’ for every minute for every month of his age!

The whole point of this behaviour is jealousy. They are trying to get attention – even if it’s bad attention they get. So, with my fresh tactics up my sleeve, I was armed and ready for dealing with the next day’s events.

It didn’t take long on Wednesday morning before I was able to put my new-found techniques into practice. Before James had even left for work, the first tantrum was brewing as Jamie decided he didn’t want Cornflakes for breakfast. Or Cheerios for that matter. The problem was I couldn’t understand what he was asking me for so cue a meltdown out of frustration. Lily had finished her breakfast and was happily sitting playing with her doll when Jamie ran past her and grabbed the doll out of her hands and legged it down the hallway. I walked down towards Jamie where he was expecting me to shout but instead I took the doll away, passed it back to Lily, crouched down to Jamie and said, ‘I know your angry but you don’t grab toys from Lily.’ And lifted him into the playpen. I don’t know who was more in shock, Jamie or me as there was a silence until the three minutes passed and Jamie gave me a hug and carried on playing.

There were a few more instances and time spent in the play pen that day but it seemed to be working and I was conscious of making sure I was spending time just playing with Jamie on his own. I think the penny dropped with Jamie that there were other ways of getting my attention other than through upsetting Lily. 

The rest of the week had it’s ups and downs but was generally getting better and Jamie seemed to be dealing with his tantrums with less aggression. I decided that maybe I would spend some time alone with Jamie, even once a week and see if that would help. 

So, on Sunday we had our first trip to the cinema. I don’t know who was excited more – me or Jamie! It was a toss up between Toy Story 4 or The Secret Life of Pets 2. We went to see Pets 2, as Jamie loved the first film. I wasn’t expecting to see the whole film but was hoping to see more than 10 minutes of it. Jamie didn’t disappoint and managed to sit on the cinema seat for over an hour enjoying the popcorn and the big screen. He sat holding my hand and loving every minute of it. It was lovely to watch him and so nice to be able to spend the one-to-one time with him. I think we both got a lot out of it.

Basically, having a toddler feels like you have a mobile blender that has a very loose top. They can just explode at any time. But there’s a reason for it. Find that reason and you’re half way there. Is that what parenting is? I haven’t a clue, I’m learning as I go here, but I think I can safely say that before I became a parent, I swore my kids would never have a tantrum in public. 

Let’s all take a moment to laugh about this. 

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