Jekyl & Hyde

This morning at church, Briar was angelic. She lay on her tummy quietly colouring her Peppa Pig book whilst the other children ran around her. The other parents were astonished.

“I can’t believe she’s only two.”

“She’s such a good girl.”

“She’s so well disciplined.”

The comments made to me amused me greatly. I jokingly responded “She’s lying to you!” and explained that she is such a busy and active little girl that wherever we go, I need to take a kit of activities for her to be amused by. However I did agree, she was having a particularly good morning.

Our church is undergoing a period of reconcilliation, so after the message was a time of “Passing the peace” and connecting with others. We left the kids room and were included in the community time. The minister invited the congregation to form a circle around the front of the church and Briar was quick to march up to the front and take her place.

Briar took part in communion and then for the closing hymn, she stood beside me and put her arm around me and swayed to the music. She was being utterly delightful.

After church, we walked down to the park. Warwick is having a rough time at work and is feeling very tired and drained, so I was aiming to keep the kids out of the house as long as I could so he could rest after night shift.

We stopped off at an op shop where Briar soon spied a plastic motorbike trike. Her calm and passive mood was quickly forgotten and she started riding it around the shop.

Although she started off sensibly riding it around the toy area, she soon remembered her wild side and attempted to ride it down the steps. I intervened, and she screamed at me. I calmly explained that she could ride the trike, but only in the kids area. We walked the motorbike back to the kids area.

When she got there, she picked the bike up, looked me in the eye and walked over to where she had been and promptly threw the trike down the steps. She didn’t break eye contact with me.

So it was game over now. As I picked up the plastic trike, she grabbed it and held onto it as hard as she could. I carried her and the toy back to the toy section, as she screamed in anger and flailed around.

I had to wrestle her off the bike and by now she was screaming so loudly that we were getting looks from every customer. I stayed calm but explained (loudly enough for all to hear) that it was time to go.

I struggled to manoeuvre my pram over to the front counter to quickly pay, with Briar screaming and yelling so loudly she was starting to make herself cough and I was worried she was going to vomit.

We got to the counter and the sales assistant tried to distract her with the bell on the counter. Briar started banging on that, which irritated one of the other counter staff. She said to the other “Oh why on earth did you suggest that?” to her colleague, who in response commented that she was “tired of hearing her scream.”

It was really time for us to go. I made an apologetic comment about Briar being two, to which the staff member sympathetically responded with a comment about the “terrible twos.”

We got out of there. Briar had a drink and calmed down. We had a cuddle. I had coffee. Gabriel slept through the whole thing.

In one short morning, Briar had shown true toddler behaviour. She has demonstrated the peak of emotions, from calm and cooperative, to angry and volatile. My job, as her mum, was to ride it out with her, stay calm and support her, whilst still maintaining our boundaries.

Parenting is really tough at times. I’m sure at times, my “highlights reel” glosses over the tough bits and focuses on the good times. I don’t do that from a place of ego, I have no problem admitting that we have meltdowns, sleep issues, challenging behaviours and times when I lose my cool. But it irks me how often society focuses on the “terribleness” of two year olds and forgets the terrific bits. Just as I loathe “dog-shaming” posts, I can’t stand seeing pictures of distressed children being made fun of instead of being comforted.

So this is why I choose to celebrate my toddlers highlight reel. Briar is amazing. She is so clever and funny and bright and observant and creative. She’s loving and affectionate. She brings me endless joy.

Want to hear about the hard stuff? Her sleep patterns are really difficult and it takes hours to get me to bed each night. Most nights she sleeps in my bed or wakes up repeatedly screaming from night terrors. She’s resisting toilet training and is still in nappies. Her “emotional melt downs” (as I call them) are what many parents would refer to as temper tantrums. She’s a normal kid.

But she’s my kid and I adore her and believe my job is to raise her to feel confident and secure in who she is and loved unconditionally. She’s not perfect and she’s certainly not “well disciplined” but she is absolutely a good girl who I feel so blessed to have as my daughter.

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