|Ow. Why, baby? Why?|
I'd always smile politely and halfheartedly agree, "Yeah, heh," even though I didn't believe them at all. With my education I knew Two marked a lot of developmental milestones, particularly in the brain, but would those really create such a strong reaction that it could merit everyone everywhere calling them the Terrible Twos? Impossible, I thought. These people just don't adjust well to the changes from infant to toddler, I presumed. They can't process that their completely dependent lump of adorable cooing flesh was now this independent actual functioning human being. That doesn't like stuff and knows how to say so. It's not like a second birthday would just instantly change your child.
I was wrong, and I will freely admit that without shame. The Terrible Twos, turns out, is actually a thing. And yeah, it does happen that fast.
Within a week of Jude's second birthday he began not only pushing boundaries but experiencing full-blown temper tantrums. The boy has always been a happy one and had never, ever had a tantrum before which made the first one all the more shocking. The catalyst was something absurdly minor, too, which made the volatile reaction to it such a surprise. I had no idea what was even happening when suddenly my happily playing toddler went from stacking toys on the table to thrashing about on the floor.
He completely skipped 'mild frustration' for full blown adult-sized rage. Only as a toddler, he does not know how to handle this yet. It's my duty to teach him, of course, but when it happened I was totally unprepared. My brain paused all ongoing thought and I stood there watching. The only word that I managed was a confused, "What?"
Usually when something isn't going according to plan there will be several minutes of frustration while Jude attempts to figure it out himself before he inevitably just comes to me and asks for my help. Once or twice, a very specific thing would genuinely upset him, but never like this. He couldn't get it to do what he wanted it to do so that was it: end of world. Game over.
He knocked all of his toys over and then threw himself onto the floor, yelling. When I tried to offer comfort he shoved himself away from me and began kicking and rolling around slapping the floor and himself with his hands. When I scooped him up into my arms, to try to keep him from hurting himself in his tiny blind rage, he writhed against me, kicked his feet violently and then dug his nails into my flesh, yelling and crying all the while. My mind did it again, blank followed by, "What?"
I did not expect tantrums to begin so suddenly, or explode so quickly. I am in for a hell of a year, looks like. I am so sorry for never believing any of you who tried to warn me! It's a very real thing, and I will be writing more about this subject in the future, you can put money on that. Particularly coping and remaining calm -- because I promise you remaining calm yourself is absolutely paramount to teaching a little person how to act like a responsible big person.
If you're going through this with me: breathe in and breathe out, Mama. You'll be okay.