From time to time, parents like to indulge in a game I’ll loosely call: What phase of parenting is the most difficult? Raising teenagers is no fun, some of my friends will tell me. Also watch out for the blind intermediate phase, others will add. “Nothing beats the newborn stage, does it?” I bid. It’s been a pretty deadly couple of months; the insomnia and the silent terrors and the culture shock and the attempts to breastfeed and the feedings and the crying and the worry of accidentally breaking them? And yet, like a very discerning Tripadvisor reviewer (three stars), I watch videos on my phone of my newborn asleep, not moving, or simply watching his new pad, and things look very peaceful and under control . On the other hand, I look back at these videos while a three year old lives in my house. No wonder it looks peaceful.
or I am more convinced than any other belief I have ever had that the three-rodent phase is by far the greatest challenge I have had to face on this winding, arduous path of parenthood.
I thought we had handled the terrible twos quite well. Everyone was still talking to each other and every discipline that had to be implemented seemed to go down well with the toddler. I’m absolutely useless at this, a card-bearing member of the permissive Parents’ Club, and not necessarily by choice. But we fought our way through. I now realize that my daughter probably wanted to give me a false sense of security and save all her strength for later.
Choose your battles, I’m told, but what if the battles go on from dawn to dusk?
It is a normal developmental stage and the way a young child processes large feelings and emotions. They test limits. As my friend B likes to say, “She doesn’t make it hard for you, she makes it hard.”
But we’re in a whole new world of naughtiness and I’m not up to it.
We’re barely up 10 minutes some mornings and my daughter and I have bumped into at least five things. She will not wear her slippers. She wants to bring the blankets down. She wants to be carried down the stairs. She wants me to go upstairs and get her fluffy bat, Batty. Porridge is YUCK now if it wasn’t yesterday. Choose your battles, I’m told, but what if the battles go on from dawn to dusk?
Yesterday, suffocating from a chest infection, she thought it would be fun to spill a cold drink on herself and the sofa and sit down in her wet clothes. Any command or request that she is happy to comply with is followed by a theatrical, resigned “ohhhhkayyyy”.
Angry doesn’t begin to describe it.
I tell my friends about this new wayward, wayward, wayward, wayward person in my house. They smile with their tongues in their cheeks. “Where did she get THAT?” they say knowingly, and I want to scream. It comes from a place of affection, but honestly the remark is about as useful as a fart in a space suit.
I love headstrong, stubborn women and hope that one day my daughter will be one. Is it okay that I don’t want her to be one while holding a bowl of Cheerios that she likes to see running on the ceiling?
First, I resort to a tactic that the experts say doesn’t hide me from anything: the empty threat. And for a while it works. She wants to go to the playground, or swim, or grab a treat, and she’ll do anything to make that happen. And yet she realizes pretty quickly that the playground will still take place. I make the mistake of threatening to cancel a weekend play date that would buy us precious unpacking time. My husband looks at me like I’m an idiot. He’s right.
Then there are times when I completely lose my cool because I’m sleepless and I’m human. Also, unlike other parents, I’m not gifted with the patience of Job. Frustration boils over and a scream feels too much to keep in my throat. And for a split second, it feels good or helpful or somehow cleansing to scream. But it’s never worth chasing regret and shame. And it only makes things worse. Instead, I give myself a break and come back to my daughter later to apologize for the screaming. I recently admitted this to a friend and was concerned that yelling at my daughter would have long term consequences that I can’t even begin to see at the moment. “I wouldn’t worry about that,” she replies, telling me about a mother she knows who yelled at her two children so much she developed polyps on her vocal cords.
As we find our new ways together, my daughter and I have the odd truce, with cuddles and sweet nothings. Since she strives for her independence, she sometimes still needs me and the cuddles. No doubt these moments will sustain me 10 years from now when many people think I will definitely need them.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/for-a-split-second-it-feels-good-or-somehow-cleansing-to-shout-at-my-threenager-but-i-immediately-regret-it-42062122.html For a split second, yelling at my threenager feels good or somehow cleansing—but I immediately regret it