Dear friends with children older than mine: do the terrible twos start this early (19 months) or is this some other phase I should know about? And if the terrible twos starts early, does that mean they'll end early? And also, how do you get out the door on time when your child refuses to let you dress them?
Hannah's first holy-crap-this-is-more-than-just-a-fit tantrum was last Thursday after story time at the library. The weather was awesome so when she wanted to keep walking rather than get back in the car I happily acquiesced. We followed the sidewalk all the way to the next cross street and then I reached for her hand to cross said street, but she jerked away from me, tucked her arms in tight, and said "mine!" I tried to explain that holding someone's hand was mandatory when crossing a street and absolutely the only way she was going to make it to the other side to continue this walk but she wouldn't have it so I eventually picked her up and juggled her screaming, kicking, thrashing body all the way back to the car smiling wanly at the people we passed and thinking to myself that now I know how it feels to be that mom, you know, the one whose kid is acting like her pants are on fire. Once I managed to strap her into the car seat I heaved a sigh of relief and then drove home with all the windows down so that Hannah could share her feelings with the other windows-down drivers while we waited at red lights.
Since then, the majority of her tantrums have occurred when it's time to change her diaper or get her dressed. Yesterday she woke up from her nap with poop all down her leg; I could see it soaking through the leg of her pajama pants. I picked her up careful to avoid touching that leg and laid her on the changing table but she immediately jumped up and clung to me screaming. After snuggling and coddling and pleading and insisting, I eventually asked her what I had to do to get her to let me change her diaper and started offering things I thought she coveted. I hit the jackpot when I mentioned juice. Down the stairs with poop-covered toddler, carefully carrying her so as not to end up a poop covered mom, carefully pouring juice and screwing on lid, carefully back up the stairs to the changing table where poop-covered toddler remembered her end of the bargain and laid still while I got to work cleaning her up.
Once clean she refused to let me put another diaper on her. By then I was tired of the fight and we didn't have anyplace to go anyway so I stood her up on the floor stark naked except for her white socks and explained that if she wasn't going to wear a diaper, she needed to put her pee in the potty rather than on the floor. This worked surprisingly well. She's peed in the potty a ton in the last few days and as long as I make sure it's next to her when she's playing, she'll even stop playing and pee in it without being prompted. This morning after I removed her 12 pound night time diaper she insisted on going commando in her pajama pants and for the first time, those pants stayed pee-free. No accidents!
So the good news is that this independent phase is making Hannah want to potty train herself.
The other good news is that due to my amazing acupuncturist, I'm able to be the mom I want to be and remain patient and compassionate throughout these ordeals (so far anyway). The other thing that helps me keep my cool is that these tantrums of hers are so insane and crazy and ridiculous and DRAMATIC that it's almost humorous. I mean, it's not, it's not funny at all, but it's like...unreal. Maybe. Is that the word I'm looking for?? The point is, I'm not getting all worked up and walking out of the room with gritted teeth to take deep breaths before returning, so yay for that! And when the novelty of this new stage wears off, I'll still have my acupuncturist to needle me through it. I wish I'd known her (and the amazing-ness of acupuncture) when I was pregnant and post-partum with Hannah...how different life could have been!!!
So, for the most part (for 20-24 days/month) I'm normal again, and even my cycle is finally normalizing (thank you naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist!), which means my bouts of crazy are more predictable. Even in my bouts of crazy though, I don't have the rage anymore--that complete frustration and desire to throw plates at walls. Now I just have an intense urge to run away and curl up by myself in a quiet room someplace far away from civilization...I get a little mean with Eric, but only a little. And once during this last bout I got mean with Hannah, but in my defense, she had her hand shoved down the front of my shirt and was pulling on my boobs while I was trying to eat. Also: I was starving AND I'd just finished nursing her. She was distracted and didn't want the other side until I sat down to eat. This intensified my urge to run away to someplace where I could eat without getting a titty-twister from a not-quite two-year-old. I can't run away yet (counting down the days till she's weaned), but as soon as Eric hit his days off, I peaced out as much as possible. I scheduled an emergency acupuncture treatment, went to yoga at the gym, went to my room with a book during Hannah's nap times. I took a vow of zero productivity and zero desire to take care of anyone other than myself and Hannah (when she was in my charge). And it worked. I managed to get through it without a temper tantrum, but it means I was MIA while my in laws were visiting which means that I have no pics. Eric took the camera to the zoo with him the one day and got a few shots of Hannah with her grandparents so I'll upload those later and maybe see if I can talk him into being a guest blogger of sorts to support his pics...