Children are amazing. It's wonderful to watch them grow from tiny little blobs into wonderful little people, learning, exploring and discovering. At least once every day I stop and marvel at the wonderful little person we have brought into the world.
But not every day is a walk in the park. Especially now that we've entered the age of defiance.
I must admit, we've been pretty lucky in the behaviour stakes. Our daughter is nearly three and full blown toddler tantrums are pretty rare. We didn't really experience too much of the 'terrible twos' and our little monkey is generally a mild-mannered, contented, polite little girl - though we are of course biased.
Recently, however, we've had an insight into some of the behaviours that I've chuckled at on Mummy blogs, without really having any first-hand experience.
We had a day when she pretty much refused to go anywhere - even her beloved Bookbug sessions at the local library which, at her request, we usually attend without fail.
Or the day that I had to be within a 3 foot radius at all times. Anything outwith that was displeasing, and being in a another room was completely unacceptable. Doing any housework (given that there wasn't much point in trying much else) was entirely out of the question, as was attempting to cajole her into helping with anything.
We've had a couple of days where only Daddy will do. Which was super fun.
And of course there was the day that nothing in the house was to our daughters liking. Literally, nothing. All activities planned did not amuse and all previously loved toys/games/books on offer couldn't hold her attention for more than a few minutes. Plus it was pouring with rain - proper, biblical downpours. Magic. Cue various meltdowns throughout the day and complete and utter defiance to engage in any kind of entertainment offered up by Mummy.
In these moments, I'll be honest, I've not always handled it well. I've shouted, I've been short tempered, and once or twice we've both had to take a couple minutes of quiet time.
These instances are hard. They are hard as parents to handle them, to know what to do and what's best.
But, as I've had to remind myself recently, it's also hard for them.
Over the last week I've been parenting solo with Daddy off on a work trip, and the defiant toddler act has been ramped up a notch. Refusals to get dressed, pushing back at usual, day-to-day requests and fighting against bedtime are the current faves. Having to be asked to do something multiple times (and I mean ALOT) and speaking in nonsense words when asked a question, even though we know her vocabulary is pretty advanced, are also staples.
But I know that these particularly expressions of defiance are based around attempts to manage what are huge emotions.
Our little lady is emotionally mature enough to understand what's happening. She took great delight in explaining to a visiting friend the shape of our week, culminating in Daddy's (much anticipated) return. But she is ultimately a very little person with very big emotions. I feel slightly on edge and a little more emotionally fragile without Mr D by my side, so no doubt she does too. And I get that.
But it doesn't make it any easier for us. (Special thanks here to the internet for making me feel like I've somehow broken my child and that the one moment I got cross out of the 1,000 that I didn't will be the moment that scars her for life. )
I'm learning (and accepting) that tears and tantrums are a normal part of toddlerhood as our girl pushes boundaries, and learns to manage big or confusing emotions.
And learning how to deal with them is a key part of the parenting journey.
I'm not always good at it, I'm not always as calm as I would like. In fact, some days I completely and utterly lose my shit (and then cry about it later). But I'm trying.
I'm aware that how we help her manage these moments now sets the little pathways in her brain. They are the marker of how to act, and how to respond, in times of need, upset, disappointment or confusion. They show her where to go for help - and that we will always be here to help her through. They teach her how to behave when things haven't or aren't going her way, which ultimately, I hope, will only encourage the kindness, compassion and empathy that she already exhibits.
This is a learning curve, for all of us. And a journey that we are on together. So defy away - I'm going nowhere (except occasionally to a dark corner to count to 10...)
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