The Redster: Six years and two months
The Cutester: Nearly three

We are getting ready to leave for my church women’s group, on the way to which I am giving a lift to two people. As usual, we are running a little late…

Babymother: OK Cutester – time to put shoes on! Put your foot…
Cutester: NOOOO! I want to do it!
BM: OK, you do it! I’m off to the toilet.

I am mid-stream when…

Cutester: NOOO! I want to do a wee!
BM: Yes, you can do one when I’ve finished. I’ll only be a minute.

Cutester comes tearing in, having pulled her shoes off again, and stands and wails while I do the paperwork.

BM: There you are, I’ve finished, now you can do a wee!
Cutester: But I wanted to do a wee!
BM: Yes! You can do a wee! It’s all yours!
Cutester: But I wanted to do it first! *wails inconsolably*
BM: Well, sorry, but you can do it now!
C: *wails inconsolably*

Phone rings:
Friend A: Are you on your way?
BM: Er – we’re just leaving…
C: *wails inconsolably*
Friend A: Actually, I think I’ll make my own way there.

BM: Shall I help you? (attempts to put child on toilet)
Cutester: NOOOO! I want to do it! Go away!
BM: OK. I WILL LEAVE YOU TO DO A WEE. BE QUICK. OK?

I return two whole minutes later to find her standing by toilet holding toilet paper.

BM: You did it! Well done! (carries to front door and begins dressing all over again) OK, let’s pull up your trousers and put on your socks and shoes and hope that the traffic is OK and…
C: I want to do a wee!
BM: Didn’t you do a wee?
C: I want to do a wee!
BM: WHAT WERE YOU DOING ALL THAT TIME IN THE TOILET THEN?OK, here we go back to the toilet – No, you don’t need to take off your shoes and socks and trousers! No! NO NO NO!

I think there was another drama before we got out of the door but I’ve suppressed the memory. Needless to say, traffic was terrible, and by the time I got to friend B’s house there was no-one at home.

One of these days, babyfather is going to come home to find the Cutester looking baffled and my body, wearing a coat, handbag and clutching carkeys, slumped lifelessly in the hallway. I don’t fear for her safety once she has pushed me over the edge, it’s the temptation to bang my head against the wall repeatedly that I fear…

I know, it’s typical two-year-old behaviour, totally unreasonable – as Chilled Mum’s husband puts it, a toddler is like a blender you can’t find the lid for. My problem is that the Redster was totally reasonable as a toddler. So long as you explained everything to her, she would cooperate. Usually it was enough to say ‘Do you want to be helpful, or unhelpful?’ ‘Helpful,’ she’d wail, and then do as I commanded. Even at the time I suspected that she was an easy child, but boy, do I realise it now.

Unfortunately, then, I keep expecting the Cutester to be reasonable, even when her emotions are at such fever pitch that her brain is melting and oozing out of her nose. Then I totally fail to keep a lid on my own blender, and as my current favourite parenting manual puts it, we climb the ‘mountain of anger’ together and erupt at the top. (You are meant to wait calmly at the bottom of the mountain for the child to come down, when you give it a comforting hug. Yup. Right. Next time.)

So we finally arrive at the group where I take her, grouchily, to the creche. She is all smiles. I say goodbye.
‘Know what, Mummy?’
‘What?’
‘I love you.’
It’s the first time she’s ever said that unprompted. I am goo.

Parenting this toddler is like a rollercoaster that you can’t find the seatbelt for.

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