Hormonal threenagers

Two nights off from toddler time should in theory leave me feeling a little more human.

Unfortunately, both those evenings were spent in the pub, so I’m currently operating at 57% brain power.

Jabs is getting increasingly firm ideas about what he wants and doesn’t want these days. He’s just turned two years and nine months, and to be honest thus far his twos have not been very terrible.

Perhaps he’s building towards being an exceptionally challenging threenager. The last couple of weeks have certainly seemed to see an upping of the ante. And as of today he’s started to say he doesn’t want to do something because it’s ‘boinging’ (boring). Who’s to argue really that it isn’t. He spends his whole sponge-brained life watching my every move to work out how to be a human; is it possible he’s picking up on my none-too-subtle clues that I am bored. (Though that isn’t a word I would ever use? In fact, I’m not really sure where he picked it up.)

In all honesty, we’ve tried to steer our minds away from ideas like the terrible twos, as there seems a genuine danger of self-fulfilling prophecy. Every arguably unreasonable complaint, every raising of the voice, would be ascribed to a condition that could maybe be observed as easily in adult behaviour, given the necessary cues.

How I’m feeling about spending another day with Jasper often colours how the day goes. Is it possible that the terrible twos just represent kids getting bored with their parents? And more importantly, vice versa? God knows, neither of us are sparkling conversationalists, though I feel there is real hope for J in the future.

My CBT counsellor told me that research suggests that toddlers’ brains are so drenched in new unfamiliar hormones (more chemicals tearing through the synapses than at any time before the chaos of puberty), that it’s only to be expected when they get a little stressed out. I have also read though that the testosterone explosion in toddlers is something of a myth to soothe the battered psyches of parents confronted with fire-breathing balls of frustration.

It’s still disappointing, infuriating and depressing when J-Bone’s good humour pops like a cheap balloon and heels are dug in, tears and screams flowing after. But I try to accept that it’s inevitable. I try. The alternative is that I am sowing irreversible mind-bombs in his young little brain, that I am rearing a poisonous, anti-social little homonculus who will revisit my parental mistakes ninefold on a cowering populace. Or just making him really unhappy on a daily basis.

I had to remind myself earlier today during another snotty-cheeked meltdown that every single parent talks about these steepling freak outs. Everyone marvels at where these devilish streaks have come from, the sulphurous sulks. If I am making greivous errors in parenting, then I am not alone, and while that might be a bit difficult for what is left of my hollowed-out ego to absorb, absorb that information I must.

Half the job of parenting seems to be reminding yourself that everyone has similar issues.

The other half is counting to ten.

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