Whenever anyone mentions children, or toddlers in particular, you are warned about the terrible two’s, the time in a child’s life when they are starting to understand things, but not able to express themselves in return. When the only way to express themselves is to scream and shout and basically make you look like a terrible parent whenever possible.
But they don’t warn you about what happens after two, so, blissfully unaware of what is to come, you either breathe a sigh of relief that the ‘two’s’ are over, or feel smug that you are obviously such a great parent that they never happened at all. You are totally rocking this parenting thing!
And then the worse thing possible happens – your delightful threenager turns into the sort of child that you don’t have any control over, the sort of child that you would be embarrassed to admit was your offspring. I’m pretty sure its a conspiracy, to fool you into a false sense of security. Because lets face it, if you really knew the truth, then you wouldn’t have had children in the first place! And the worse bit about it? The slyness of them doing it (mostly) behind closed doors.
Nursery tell you how wonderful your child is, there is nothing but praise for how well behaved they are, how they remember their manners, how they mix well with other children. And then you get home and your so called well behaved child turns into the offspring of satan. A simple request to brush their teeth or wash their hands results in the neighbours discussing whether your child is being brutally tortured and murdered, because the sweet little child they wave to in the street would never willingly make those noises would they?
You start to question if it is your parenting, or if your child just genuinely hates you. You wonder what you ever did to deserve this. And as your heart sinks at yet another refusal of a simple task, you begin to wonder why having children seemed such a good idea in the first place. You feel yourself losing your patience, and you wonder if things will ever get better. You feel drained. You try everything, rewarding good behaviour, punishing bad, ignoring, walking away. Nothing makes the smallest amount of difference. Your child is acting like they are possessed.
Then as soon as it started, it stops, and your darling child comes over and gives you a hug and tells you that you are their best friend, that they love you. And all is again well in the world. Your heart melts and you forget the last half an hour.
Then you ask your child to get into bed and it all starts again……