We are parents of a toddler, but more specifically a parent of a one and a half year old. We have heard from many that the threes are far worse than the twos, but we are beginning to experience that phase of complete meltdowns due to frustration over not being able to communicate. We often see him throw himself on the floor, fake cry, scream in anger, hitting or throwing—he is seeing some consequences with these, and just pure “life is over” when he cannot get things his way. Now, as a teacher and a police officer, we are all over these behaviors and trying to teach him to use his words or prevent these outburts by planning nap time, dinner time and really life around his schedule. One thing we learned over the vacation is that dinner out may not be happening as much until the kinks are worked out.
We blame ourselves for taking him too late because we knew he was beginning to get tired and hungry. But our worlds of freedom are closing more each day as we realize we must get a sitter, train him to act right, change our schedule or just eat at home. We know the world understands and does not judge us too much, but we judge ourselves and we fear raising a spoiled brat that manipulated us to get what he wants or the other extreme of strict parenting where he will one day rebel or resent us. For now, I am content being the mean teacher, but so much we are learning as we go and what is a realistic expectation vs we live in a fantasy world. He loves these alphabet songs on youtube, so while we were eating out a little bit too late, we threw the phone in his face and just watched the judgmental glares of “how dare you put your kid in front to the media so you can eat in peace” If they were not saying it, then we were because we do not want to be that family that is all on their games/phones instead of talking. For now though, we will just accept we did what we had to do to keep him from throwing food or screaming in random outbursts (almost like he is angry at the world or getting bad service) while we figure it out.
The good news is: I think we are judging ourselves too harshly, but it is such a hard age and a crucial age to develop good habits. We don’t want him to learn these tantrums produce positive results but we don’t want to ruin the dinner of others either. Thankfully, we have grandparents are good sitters nearby because stuffing our face and getting the check early is getting old.