I've had a magic trick happen in my home. One day, I had a happy baby that laughed often, snuggled with mommy and daddy, willingly gave kisses and hugs and was polite. Then *poof*! I wake up the next morning to a whiny, clingy, demanding little 17 month old. Could this honestly be the dreaded "Terrible Twos" already?!?
What's happened to my sweet baby girl? We are deep in the throes of Temper Tantrum Land. Squealing or growling or just plain "pitching a fit" when she doesn't get her way. Perfect example: last night, we were driving home in my car. Avery wanted to listen to her Mickey Mouse CD (isn't it funny how you know what they want without using any words?). After a little while of listening, she was still grunting and growling at me, so I turned Mickey off. When she threw a fit to listen to him again, I told her that if she wanted something she needed to say please. Cue terrible tantrum. Cue the pouty lip and the waving of fists. Which made me insist: "Avery, we don't act like that to get what we want. If you want to listen to Mickey, you have to say please." You see, this line ALWAYS worked before. Want a banana? to watch TV? to wear a bow in your hair? You must say please. And she would. Until recently. Now she'll throw a fit to get what she wants...saying please is an absolute thing of the past. I would like to say that I don't give into those embarrassing temper tantrums, but sometimes you're caught in public when one comes on. What do you do? You leave your cart full of groceries in the aisle and walk back to your vehicle because your child just HAS to have that rubber ducky she spotted on the shelf? Sometimes, it's just easier to give her the rubber ducky that will keep her entertained the rest of the time we're in the store. I know that's not the best thing to do. So sue me. It's hard disciplining a 17 month old. She doesn't fully understand everything I'm trying to tell her. I say "We don't pull mommy's hair. That's not a nice thing to do Avery." Who knows what she's hearing? Probably: pull mommy's hair!
Let's move on to dinner time. Eating out at a sit down restaurant is going to have to be retired for the time being. Avery wants to throw her cup, throw her toys, throw her food, get out of the chair, pretend to choke because she thinks it's funny (yeah....that really happens). I understand that she's still a baby, leaning towards being a toddler and that she isn't always going to sit still whenever we're in public or eat all her vegetables. I'm not naive. But I definitely don't want to be embarrassed any time Marty and I decide to go eat dinner at Cheddars.
Then there's playing well with others. To summarize: it doesn't happen. Well, let me specify. Avery plays well with others at a neutral place (i.e. someone else's house). When those playmates are on "her turf," don't even think about it. A while back, there were a couple of Avery's friends over at her Gramma's house. They played with Avery's toys at Gramma's house....and Avery wanted nothing to do with it. Harper would play with Avery's kitchen...Avery would run over and play with her kitchen. Delaney would pick up Avery's play vacuum....Avery suddenly wanted to vacuum. Lots of growling and yelling took place that day. How do you teach a child that's Avery's age how to share? I can tell her that she needs to share her toys, but again...what does that mean to her? I have been blessed to have an amazing family that watches Avery during the week, thus keeping her out of daycare. Am I doing Avery a disservice by keeping her out of daycare and keeping her away from the chance to learn how to interact with other kids her age? What's a mom to do??
Someone told me that this could be the result of lack of sleep. Well, at 17 months old, Avery is still not consistently sleeping through the night. We may have a week of sleeping through and then a week of being up every night crying it out. Then she may sleep through two days and cry the next three. She's also not getting regular naps. She may go to my Granny's house and take a three hour nap around 11 one day and then go to my Aunt Pam's and sleep 30 minutes at 12 the next. Without me being with her every single day, it's almost impossible to regulate her naptime schedule. Could I just have a grumpy baby because she can't figure out a consistent sleeping pattern??
Now that I've ranted, let me explain. Avery rarely ever acts this way with anyone else (unless all my babysitters are lying when they tell me "She was perfect today!"). It seems to be just when she's with me. That makes me feel like crap. And let me clarify something else: I know I just talked about everything that Avery is doing to misbehave, but my child is no means a terror. She's still enjoyable to be around (for the most part), ALWAYS says thank you whenever you hand her an item and is so much fun. Everything I mentioned above is behavior that happens occasionally. No, she doesn't throw a fit every time we go to Wal-Mart. No, she doesn't embarrass me every single time we're at a restaurant. No, she doesn't throw a temper tantrum every single time she doesn't get what she wants. But these instances are becoming closer and closer together. And I want to raise a well-behaved and polite child (for the most part...I understand kids aren't perfect).
I'm a little worried about this new development in Avery's behavior. I worry that it's my parenting or disciplining style that's made her that way. Help??
(I leave you with Avery's best "gimme-what-I-want" pouty face, as given to her Gramma)