This column was originally published in Practical Parenting Magazine, September, 2010. Apologies for the confusion, I'm out of sync here. Ted has progressed from this brand of craziness, deep into the toddler-zone. This week he will only answer to the name Trixie and answers no to everything. 'More toast, Teddy?' 'No! But I'm Trixie! But no!' He cries if Ivy won't call me Robbie Rotten. Our easygoing, agreeable little fella is breaking bad...
My dear readers, I’m worried about T-Bone. It’s very early to drop such a heavy label on him, but I think he might be an addict. His relationship with condiments has reached unhealthy proportions. He begs for tomato sauce and mayonnaise and he weeps when he can’t get them. ‘Naynays. Soss. Naynays. Soss,’ he moans in a sorrowful, endless chant, and left near an unattended bowl, within seconds he looks like he’s been at the scene of some sort of chainsaw massacre.
If he’s not truly an addict, then it can only mean one thing: he’s reached what I call the Age of No Reason. I’ve been through this before with his big sister Peanut, and it lasted from about eighteen months of age until about three. During this developmental stage, there are no half-measures. Passions are intense, desires must be met immediately, logic has no place at your table and life can be tough for those trying to parent you.
At the same time, there is incredible magic too. It’s like watching a personality unfurl like a rosebud. First sentences appear, and early obsessions, and those light bulb mama-moments when you realise ‘Ah! He understands!’ At two, children have one foot in the cuddly, Wondersuited baby camp of gorgeousness, and one foot in the child’s world of imagination and exploration. It’s a beautiful metamorphosis to witness. But it’s also often like living with an incontinent lunatic.
‘Corner?’ Peanut would ask excitedly, knowing she was in for that hilarious gag where Mum and Dad carried her back to the funny spot, over and over again.
Ignoring the tantrum is the only real option, but toddlers don’t make this easy either. Peanut liked to bang her head on the floor in rage when she was going through the Age of No Reason. At one stage I was forced to put her into a fluffy sort of special-needs hat, in an attempt to get her through her toddlerhood with something left of her frontal lobe. If ignored, she would come right up to me and shout indignantly ‘Head! Bang! Head!’
T-Bonetakes a more physical approach. If I try and ignore a tantrum, he simply moves the tantrum closer. Yesterday I tried valiantly to continue reading to Peanut while he wailed for tomato sauce. ‘Sauce is finished, T-Bone,’ I insisted, and continued on with Hairy Maclary. T-Bone wasn’t having it. ‘Ignore him, Peanut,’ I gasped, as he wrapped one arm around my neck, locked his legs across my middle and shrieked into my ear.
Just a year-and-a-half to go then, of managing this patience-sapping, brain-melting phase before T-Bone becomes reasonable and allows me to do my best parenting, which involves the judicious application and withdrawal of Milk Arrowroot biscuits and Wiggles videos. Until then, I’ll just keep us well-stocked in tomato sauce and earplugs.