Friday, 11 July 2014

a tantrum-free day

This weekend we're heading off to Pembroke to see a dear friend's ordination to the priesthood. While we wouldn't want to miss this event it also means preparing for another road trip with two little ones in this summer that has already been crazy busy. Just thinking about it makes me tired. 

Tiring? Yes. But cute? Double yes.
When my mother-in-law told me that they were going up to the same area a day earlier than us and offered to take Isaac with them and meet us there my first reaction was discomfort. Isaac has never been away from us, with the exception of the night after Kateri was born. He's certainly never been on a road trip without us. Then I began to see the idea in sort of a rose-coloured shimmery haze. I could pack for the trip without Isaac there flinging clothes around and trying to put on our deodorant. We would have a relatively peaceful car ride, with only Kateri who's guaranteed to sleep for at least a couple of hours of the trip. It would only be one night away with his beloved Nana and Papa, and Isaac is no clingy child. With lots of people around and lots to do he'd hardly miss us. I could have a tantrum-free day.

You see, lately Isaac's toddlerishness has really been getting to me. I always knew that toddlers had tantrums, the "terrible twos" and all that, but I think I had some vague idea that if you were a good parent and dealt with tantrums properly the phase wouldn't last all that long. 

Classic "cheese" face.
If anyone reading this hasn't had much contact with toddlers, my vague idea was wrong. Isaac has been a tantrum-thrower for about a year and a half now, and it seems that there's no end in sight. I'm pretty sure this is actually just normal. We don't reward his tantrums, give in to him, or bribe him (except when we're really desperate..hey, we're not perfect!) but the simple fact remains that he is not yet able to control his emotions. Sometimes his tantrums are him putting on a show trying to get what he wants, but most of the time he just genuinely loses it. For a long time I thought that this was just the age he was at, and it is, but part of it is that we've just got a very passionate little fellow on our hands. He screams when he's excited, he screams when he's upset, and he gets upset and excited often. "Exuberant" my mom calls him, and I would have to agree.

He is getting better at obeying, and better at self-control, but I find that as he learns more I expect more from him. He used to rarely obey me, he just didn't have the impulse control. It was frustrating sometimes, but understandable. Now when he doesn't obey me or follow rules but I know that he can it can really bother me. I don't like dealing with tantrums. I'm a non-confrontational person so a battle of wills with my toddler is just exhausting. The sheer noise grates on me on a physical level.

I wrote awhile ago about it not being personal with toddlers. I think lately I've started taking it personally again. And, really, it's all about pride: "No child of mine is going to be rough with his cousins. No child of mine is going to whine to watch more tv. No child of mine is going to refuse to eat his vegetables. No child of mine is going to continually snatch toys from his sister." Why not? Am I so much better than the parents who have gone before me and struggled with these same issues? And even if I were a perfect parent does it follow that my child is going to be calm and self-controlled at the age of two? No, no and no. Of course, these behaviors are problems and we are working on them, but they will take time. And in the meantime, if I stop taking it personally and worrying about my pride I can deal with them much more calmly and consistently. 

Anyway, you can see how the prospect of a tantrum-free day was appealing. Even so, last night and this morning I was all in a flutter packing Isaac's bag and wondering if my baby was going to be okay without me. Sean and I did not find it easy letting him go. We have more separation anxiety than he does. We even talked about cancelling last night, but couldn't think of any good reasons. Isaac was excited to go with Papa to see Eowyn (the dog) the chickens at Sarah and Jason's house and wasn't the least upset leaving today. We know he's in very good hands and will have lots to keep him occupied. 

So Isaac is off on his adventure with Nana and Papa. The house is strangely silent without him. I miss him, but am also enjoying a little break. A little break, a little perspective, a chance to miss that little man and remember how much light he brings to our lives. And a chance for some quality time with Kateri. Our little miss is growing! Now that she's 7 months it seems like her first birthday is just around the corner and soon she'll be walking and talking and tagging along after her older brother just like I used to do. She's sitting up by herself (only falling occasionally) and grabbing everything within reach and sticking it in her mouth. She loves food, but has lately been insisting on feeding herself. She grabs the spoon as it's heading towards her mouth and sticks it in. I'm not sure how much she actually eats since most of her food seems to end up on her face, hands and clothes. She's our happy girl. I look at her and say, "You'll never have tantrums, right?" And then I laugh...and cry...
Little Miss Bright Eyes!
(Photo cred in this post goes to Sarah and Jason Gould


  1. Ahh, great blog post. I totally missed this one for some reason…didn't show up in my feed. I'm glad you mentioned it. :)

  2. I totally missed this post too, until now. I really needed this perspective today, Steph, so thanks! You have such beautiful kids.

  3. you have little miss "bright" eyes and little "mister sun"

    May they always be little children of "The Light"!

    Love Mom.