Being two is hard. Sometimes, things don’t go the way you want them to go, or the way they use to when you were tiny, when your wants were genuine needs. You’re growing up and realising the world doesn’t really revolve around you. And it’s terrifying.
Aeryn woke up an hour too early on Saturday. She asked for me. She’s in our room in a floor bed beside ours (it use to be a giant floor bed but pregnancy aches have dictated we temporarily erect our double bed frame).
Ben and I have discussed at length how she won’t always be able to dictate which parent she wants and when once the baby arrives. We have told her this as well, explained as much as we can. But this morning was the first time we’ve really stuck to it and followed through.
Ben got down to help her. She exploded into a rage, screaming “no”, “go away”, “mummy” and hitting him in the face. He explained he was just there to help give her a cuddle, I piped up from the bed that I am still here but daddy can help her sometimes, empathising about how different it was, the usual things. She wasn’t having it and kept trying to hurt Ben, which we wouldn’t allow, then decided to climb up into bed to find me, sobbing and angry.
It is really, really difficult to see her so upset, but I know these are feelings we need to start processing now before a tiny person is also in the bed who could potentially get a lot more hurt than Ben. It’s also hard for Ben, who feels rejected.
So we talked it out. I talked about how difficult it was, and different, but sometimes she won’t be able to choose which parent she gets and when. That mummy and daddy love her just the same and are both just as good at cuddles. That daddy feels sad that she hurt him and it isn’t okay to hit people, even when we’re angry. We talked a lot. There were a lot of “no”s and “I don’t care”s at her end. But I kept on talking it through.
Fifteen minutes later, she said sorry to Ben and that she didn’t mean to hit him. And they went downstairs for a drink, the best of friends.
No coerced apology, no shouting at her, no time outs for hitting and acting out in a very age appropriate way. It wouldn’t have helped, anyway. But without any of those punitive measures, in 20 minutes, we went from full blown meltdown to a place of acceptance that sometimes things don’t go how we want or expect them to, and she made a genuine apology from her own heart. It was a really positive experience.
I am under no illusion that this has fixed all those feelings forever or that she’ll never act out or hit again. This isn’t a miracle solution, it’s a working model, and it will need a lot of work. But it is working, and it is helping her navigate this really difficult part of her life, where everything is changing and she’s growing up to realise the world can sometimes be quite unfair.
I love my daughter. And my husband, who finds the rejection really hard but still comforts and makes himself emotionally available to her even when she says she doesn’t want him. I know when the baby comes and our little unit gets flip turned upside down, we’ll all be okay. We don’t have to compromise how we want to parent because our child has started hitting.
So, in all, an eye opening morning. But one I’m proud of how we handled. We’re getting there, with this toddler parenting stuff. Baby (well, toddler) steps at a time.