Nothing quite prepares you for the sheer power of toddler tantrums. The raw emotion, the screaming, the feeling of utter helplessness.
Everyone talks about how hard and tiring they are, but its like trying to describe labour pains to someone who’s never experienced it. You can talk all you want about how it’s a different type of pain, about the pressure etc, but it’s not until they are in that moment that they will fully comprehend. After all, who can really imagine being squeezed from the insides until they’ve experienced it themselves?!
My son turned 2 at the beginning of this month, and the tantrums started about a week ago. I thought I was prepared – I knew it was going to be a tough time, and I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, but –
Out of the blue. No build up, no warning, nothing.
Suddenly I have a screaming toddler who is both angry and upset, and getting more and more out of control. The panic starts building in his eyes as he realises he’s unable to calm down and doesn’t know how to deal with all this raw emotion.
He cries out for me. That’s the most heartbreaking bit.
Mummy! Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!
He wants me, he wants my help and needs me to comfort him, but he doesn’t want to be touched. He needs his space. Every time I put my arms out to him or move a bit closer, he starts manically shaking his head, moving even further away, and the screaming intensifies.
NO NO NO NO!
He doesn’t even want to know his dad when he’s like this, and it’s easy to see just how much that cuts like a knife.
Here we are, two parents who thought themselves strong and capable. Two parents who have been so proud of their chilled out little boy who is always happy.
Two parents finding themselves completely out of their depth, having been utterly blindsided.
Count to five.
This is normal.