I am fast approaching the end of mine.
The Terrible Twos are in full effect. The Toddler can be an absolute delight at the minute, until you have the audacity to suggest that she do something she doesn't want to do, and then... well.. it goes something like this...
"Do you want to go in the bath?"
"Come on, it's bath time"
(in enthusiastic voice, forced grin on face) "Yes, let's go in the bath, and you can have bubbles and do splashing!"
"NOOOOOO! Don't bath! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"
Cue much flailing about on the floor and endless repetition of the word "No".
Sometimes the tantrum is short-lived. A quick minute of standing in the corner on her own, and she comes back and does whatever it is I was trying to get her to do. In fact, sometimes she asks to go in the corner, and when she's done, tells me that she has "stop cry-in". Sometimes, she can be fooled with an "alternative" option, which is really a different version of what I asked of her in the first place, so we achieve the necessary, but she hasn't had to back down (yes, it really is psychological warfare round here).
But, increasingly often, nothing works. And I do mean NOTHING. Exaggerated enthusiasm, stern voices, bribes, threats, reasoning, cajoling, offering choices, cuddles, kisses, time-outs, eye contact, no eye-contact, ignoring - all tried and failed. The flailing and "No"-ing continues until we take a deep breath, steel ourselves, and just man-handle her into her clothes, or nappy, or bed, or whatever.
And I hate this. She fights and fights and fights, until I start worrying that she's going to end up covered in bruises and nursery will phone Social Services on me. An inner voice starts asking me "How crap are you? Can't you control your child?" (Clearly, I can't). And it makes me so frustrated that I am gritting my teeth to stop from yelling in her face. Which makes me feel like an even worse mother than I already do.
They're not limited to the daylight hours either, she throws them in the middle of the night, when she's woken up for no readily apparent reason and is screaming before I've even got into her room. And quite often, we will just get her settled, and then The New'un will wake for a feed. So I'm a bit tired. But the sleep deprivation is nothing compared to how draining it is actually dealing with the moods.
The worst part is having no idea what to do. Will just waiting for it to pass lead her to think that we are ineffective disciplinarians, and cause her to grow up to be the kind of child that other children give a wide berth at the soft play? Will trying to be too harsh leave her feeling unloved and give her deep-seated emotional issues. So add guilt, confusion and helplessness into the mix of frustration and tiredness, and you've got one stressed out mammy.
And just when I think I can't take anymore, she throws me a bone. Tonight's bedtime was wonderful - she splashed happily in the bath, got out not too long after I first asked, allowed me to get her dry, nappied and dressed, picked her stories and sat and listened to them, opened her mouth wide for teeth brushing, kissed me goodnight, and then went to sleep with a minimum of fuss after only taking her nappy off once (that's a whole other post waiting to happen, by the way). So now I feel happy again, and even tentatively optimistic for the night, and the week ahead.
Let's see how many hours that lasts for.....