The War on Tantrums

Every parent believes that their wee baby is a prodigy. We may not know quite in what area their brilliance lies but we are all convinced that it’s only a matter of time before we discover the complex algebraic equations scrawled in crayon on the living room wall or the flawless performance of Moonlight Sonata on The Wiggles keyboard.
Of course, not all babies will be graduating in astrophysics the same week that they make their first holy communion but so long as they are safe, happy and healthy most of us are content to sit back and wait for the latent genius to manifest itself, no matter how long it takes.
My wee boy Sam turns one this week and his superior ‘advancedness’  has already begun to show.  He is displaying a maturity heretofore unknown in a nought year old. A sign of his rapid development.
So, why am I not happy?
Why have I not invited round all our friends and relatives to bask in the reflected genius of my wee one?
It’s simple.
I have an awful suspicion that my baby is beginning the terrible twos a full year early.
That’s the equivalent of a ten year old graduating from college and then burning it to the ground.
Let me explain my paranoia, sorry theory.
It all started with a look.
Sam has always been an incredibly placid and smiley baby. He settled into the routine of the Cummins house almost immediately and has pretty much chuckled his way through life. He was content to just hang out with his parents and brother and as long as the snacks kept coming we could bring him anywhere
This all changed a week ago when we had stopped for lunch during a road trip and while we were finishing our meal Sam began to grumble and grouse a little. I confidently stepped in with a funny face and a favourite teddy waiting for the ten thousand watt gummy smile to appear. Instead I was treated to a look which would wither all the flowers in the hundred acre wood. And if he had the imagination and ability I honestly believe Teddy and I would have become horribly well acquainted. (Forgive the image folks).
Since then there have been other ominous signs. When we tried to replace the final bedtime baba with a sippy cup he practically hurled it across the room. He has also learned the two greatest weapons in a toddler’s arsenal.
Spaghetti body when you want him to go somewhere and stiff as a board body when you want to put him somewhere he doesn’t want to be. As any parent who’s gone through it will tell you, these two techniques, in the right sticky hands make the simplest task a nightmare.
Add to these techniques the fact that they are commonly employed in the most public forum possible and you have a recipe for a few months of toe curling embarrassment and occasional shin damage.
This is where Sam may run into trouble however.
To paraphrase the former Bush administration, ‘We do not negotiate with tantrumists’
I am aware that the terrible twos are a perfectly normal and even essential developmental stage and help the wee one learn their place in the world and such life skills as conflict resolution and how far a handful of beans can be thrown in a crowded coffee shop.
This does not mean however that he will be allowed to get away with it.
As a comedian I am used to being the centre of attention so I have no fear of the public tantrum. When Leon was coming up to two he had a tantrum in the biscuit section at a supermarket. A full on, jumping up and down, top of the lungs tirade about his desire for Jaffa Cakes. I was over tired or an angel whispered in my ear but I sat on the floor and copied him. I also demanded Jaffa Cakes at one hundred decibels and hopped up and down on my bum to the astonished looks of my fellow shoppers and one bemused toddler. He then burst out laughing and we continued shopping. I continued to get strange looks from some people and I’m sure that plain clothes security staff followed me like some sort of Cold War double agent but I felt great. I had taken some of the power back and things would never be the same again.
Of course for the next few weeks the battles raged and some I won some I lost but that little victory was as sweet as any biscuit and kept me sane through the final stages of ‘The Terribles’
So whether the twos are upon us again or the past week is just a glitch in the Matrix be warned Sam.
I am a veteran of this war and I will fight dirty.
Mind you, he does have regular nappy loads of ammunition and the aim of a sniper.
War is hell.

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