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The 2's were not at all terrible for Mallory. Now, three-and-a-half was pretty bad, and four was rough, and there are moments during five-and-three-quarters that make me want to ship her off to Kalamazoo, but when Mallory was two everything was sunshine and roses and kittens frolicking in...whatever kittens frolic in. (I'm a dog person.) I thought the terrible 2's were a myth, devised by parents who obviously just didn't know how to relate to their 2-year-olds.

Clearly I was a fool. My second 2-year-old -- who up until last week was going through life on a fairly even keel -- has been replaced by a whirling dervish who collapses into screaming rages if you look at her funny.

Since Saturday, Phoebe has had full-blown, fall-down-on-the-floor-and-kick tantrums because:

She wanted to go outside.
She wanted to come inside.
It was dark outside.
She wanted to take a bath.
She did not want to take a bath.
I let the water out of the bath.
She wanted "fre-sert" but did not want to finish her dinner.
I cut her toast into squares.
I poured milk into the wrong cup.
She wanted to watch TV.
She did not want to watch TV.
Her special "Halloweens" temporary tattoo washed off her hand.
She did not want to wear the shirt with the apples.
She did not want her diaper changed.
She wanted to take a nap (two minutes after waking up).
She did not want me to take a shower.

So it's been a loud, trying, tiring week in our household. And when even she has had enough of her yelling, she comes to me and lifts up her arms and says, "I need to rock, Mommy." So I take her to the big squooshy rocking chair in the living room and we rock for a while. I stroke her sweaty hair and rub her back as her shoulder-hitching sobs fade away. I sing the "Fee-fi-Phoebe-i-o" song. I feel exasperated because she's being so irrational. I marvel at how perfectly her little body fits against mine. I think that she really needs to save up all this rage for a time when her life really does get hard. I consider how frustrating it must be to be only two years old, to be shorter than everyone else, to be unable to reach the ice cream yourself, to have so little control over where you go and what you do. I think about how scary it must be to have your emotions spiral so completely out of control, how exhausting it must be to flail and cry for fifteen minutes at a time. I think of what a comfort it must be that even after you've behaved so very badly, there is still someone who will pick you up and hold you tight and say "I love you anyway."

I hope this phase passes quickly. I hope she saves up some of this fire and determination for the really important fights in her life. I hope she will always know that I am her safe place, no matter what.


aimee said…
Such a sweet post. My tantrum throwing son, who still can throw a pretty mean fit when he wants, cries out, "I want my mom!" over and over. How can you stay mad at that?

You are a good mommy who knows it is irrational but completely understandable.

Tell Phoebe to hang in there. And chill out. Hee!

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