Sophie is now two and three-quarters, and, just this week, I think, she entered the terrible twos. I suppose I am lucky that we never had this much screaming before. Maybe it’s related to the great nap boycott, but even though she’s getting more rest lately, she’s still screaming for half an hour at a time, screaming over what I consider to be astoundingly trivial events.
Last night, I absentmindedly helped Sophie unwrap the plastic straw that she was struggling with, and she was so furious at my presumption that she screamed, at the top of her lungs, for 40 minutes. I said sorry, sincerely and repeatedly. I offered her another straw to unwrap all by herself. I attempted to give her a hug, and she just kept on screaming, lashing out her hands, daring me to step into the paths of her karate-chopping hands. I walked away, of course. But the screaming continued. She was a whirling dervish of devastating despair. Eventually, she allowed me to read her a book, which calmed her down — but I felt shell shocked.
The other day, what set her off was my refusal to stop the car to buckle the seatbelts of the imaginary monsters she had just spotted in the backseat. Instead, I told her they had good invisible monster seatbelts on, but this explanation, to her, was infuriatingly inadequate.
Maybe it’s an imbalance between her desire for independence and her need for help. Maybe it’s just moodiness. Maybe I should try asking her if something else is bothering her, or maybe she just needs to spend more time with trees. I have tried telling her that I’m not happy with this long screaming, and now, every hour or so, she heartbreakingly asks me, “Momma, are you happy?”
This morning, on our way out of the house, I was holding her in my arms while she was pressing the open-the-garage-door-button, when suddenly she decided she wanted to stand on her own two feet. I think I placed her on the ground as soon as she asked, but apparently it was too late for her taste, the garage-door-button had already been pressed, the day was therefore ruined, and so she just started screaming. She even kicked at me while I strapped her into her carseat. I told her I wasn’t going to talk to her until she said “Sorry” and switched to her nice voice. She did switch to a quieter voice: as we drove to daycare, she tried to engage me in conversation about Bob-the-builder, a castle she saw, and some birds, but I kept insisting on “Sorry.” I hate confrontations like this, but I also refuse to let her kick me.
It’s one of those weeks when I’m grateful for daycare, grateful that someone else is raising her for 8 hours, at least. And feeling guilty to even write that. And feeling desperate to sleep through the night, just one night, just once.