Saturday, November 19, 2005 | My daughter Alex is going through the terrible twos and, for a while, I didn’t think it was that bad but, at this moment, I am at my wit’s end.
She really doesn’t act that bad but sometimes she acts her age. Usually, I have the patience to deal with it but there are times when I want to lose it because I feel like everyone around me is giving the bad parent evil eye.
Take today: I took her to the library for a few hours because I thought she wanted to look at books or have me read some to her. But when we got there, she was more interested in the giant stuffed animals bordering the kiddie section instead of reading.
She threw around some books but wouldn’t read them. She did want to read a book about Arthur, an aardvark-like character, but it was attached to the ceiling as part of an installation involving Nemo the clownfish.
“What book do you want to read?” I’d ask and she’d point up and say “that one” and then she’d throw another one on the ground.
Naturally, I got the bad parent stare, especially when Alex yelled, “I want to sit on the rocking chair.”
“Uh, Alex, we use our quiet voice when we’re in the library.”
To her credit, she would quiet down. For a second.
I try to explain rationally that, in our family, we share but she starts screaming, “That’s Mommy’s pillow! That’s Mommy’s pillow! That’s MOMMMMEEE’S pillow.”
It’s annoying but I promise you I don’t budge an inch. For a minute.
All the child magazines and books that I’m forced to read whenever my wife throws out the stuff I like to read suggest this is a normal phase but I feel it is also normal for me to want to tune out. As a non-parent friend recently pointed out, “It’s natural for a living organism to want to avoid pain.”
What makes it worse is not that she’s always bad but that she’s often good and the screaming and crying often come from nowhere after a moment when she’s been sweet.
She likes me to stick my feet in the tub so she can wash while she’s having a bath but she has a fit when it’s time for her to get out of the tub.
But, noooo, she won’t let Daddy take her out. She kept saying, “That’s Mommy’s job! That’s Mommy’s job! That’s MOMMMMEE’S job.”
I guess where she’s being annoying doesn’t really matter if she’s being annoying but I’m a sensitive guy and those “look, he’s a bad parent” looks cut into my soul like a knife in sponge cake.
But, now that I think about it, those looks aren’t as bad as the ones that say, “Look, she’s having a tantrum, isn’t that precious?”
Either way: Alex and I are getting a lot of looks from others whenever she starts crying, shouting or running around.
But even if she outgrows those terrible twos, I can’t help but think they’ll be replaced by the threatening threes, the frightening fours and the freaky fives.
Looks like we’ve got a lot of work.
David Moye is a La Mesa-based writer who tuned out his daughter’s tantrums long enough to write this.