Sophie, at two month’s shy of her second Birthday, today demonstrated what I knew was on the horizon. What was to be our regular, pleasurable afternoon visit to the local playground turned into misery for Sophie and I. Jealousy struck at the heart of Sophie’s emotions and she was in despair.
Charlotte, now an independent, happy four-year old, approached another little girl to make friends. Charlotte and the other girl were instant buddies and I was delighted to watch Charlotte naturally socializing and enjoying herself. Meanwhile, Sophie thought this was appalling. She is learning to share toys; but she wasn’t willing to share her sister’s affections with a stranger! There was nothing I could do to calm her tears and outrage. She kept calling out, ‘Charlotte! Charlotte!’ with streaming tears and desperation in her voice. It was heartbreaking; and I was totally unprepared for her outburst. It really shook my little world: It’s been such an easy ride for a while.
After the other girl had left the playground, Sophie was still too distraught to calm down and take the opportunity to play with Charlotte. She said, ‘Home!’ and there was nothing we could do to change her mind. Charlotte would have happily played for hours, but she generously agreed to come home and cheer up her little sister.
There is no doubt: Sophie absolutely adores Charlotte. Sophie is such a happy charmer, but the days of ready compliance are gone. She’s now starting out on the long road to independence; and with it there will be buckets of frustration to handle. She’s beginning to feel a surge of emotions and trying to comprehend them for the first time in her young life. It isn’t easy to parent a child through this stage… she’ll need my love more than ever and I’ll need to find a whole lot of patience!
Sophie at 22 month’s:
When we got home we decided to clean the fish tank. All was going well. Lots of bubbles at the sink and both girls giving the tank and contents a good scrub down. And then it happened: Sophie grabbed hold of the jug that I’d put the fish in and decided to pour out the contents! Fish and water spilled out over my kitchen table and down the drawers; even into the drawers – resulting in the need to wash out the entire cutlery draw! Thankfully, I managed to grab the jug out of Sophie’s hand just in time to catch the fish and empty it into the now cleaned fish tank.
Now I was on my hands and knees mopping up the mess on the kitchen floor. From my vantage point I started the dreadful observance of all the little microscopic corners of my kitchen that needed a real seeing too with some strong chemicals. I could feel myself on a downward spiral. Everything was getting blown out of proportion and I felt the need to have a tantrum myself. It was my turn to lose control, damn it! If I didn’t have dinner to cook and the girls to keep entertained then I would have vented my frustrations on the cooker and fridge freezer with a scrubbing brush.
Meanwhile, Charlotte was being supremely helpful in running around trying to help clean up. Sophie was standing in shock after both Charlotte and I had screamed at her, ‘You nearly killed the fish!’. Poor Sophie wasn’t really being malicious; but just wanted to continue the water play and had no understanding of her actions.
I finally got dinner served and we sat up to eat. Sophie decided to assert her independence and test the boundaries by climbing up onto the kitchen table for the first time. After several warnings and no response other than a cheeky, side-ways glance and even standing up to perform a little dance, I had to pick her up and put her on the floor for a moment. Wow – she can scream! At least she didn’t resort to banging her head on the floor and kicking her legs in full tantrum mode (big sister Charlotte was a champion performer on that score!). Thankfully, after a few moments, she sat back up at the table and ate her dinner peacefully. Phew!
I’m exhausted this evening. I can foresee a challenging few month’s ahead of me! I must prioritise opportunities for me to release the pent up frustration I know I’m going to feel. I’ve had a sore throat all week; but am yearning to go for a run.
Second time round, heading into the ‘terrible twos’, I’m definitely calmer and feel more in control. However; having an older child around when disciplining the younger child adds a different dimension. Charlotte was keen to join in and ‘help’ to correct Sophie on her behaviour. I was having flashbacks to my own childhood. I can remember feeling the guilty pleasure of gloating on my sister’s wrong doings and feeling relieved that it wasn’t me (at least, not that time)! Wish me luck and a whole ton of patience!