If on December 18, 2012, you had found yourself in the Peel subway station in downtown Montreal at anytime between 4.45 pm - 5.20 pm (or so) you might have noticed the woman sitting on the ground underneath the payphones on your way in. She had a baby in a marsupial strapped to her chest and, what you certainly could not have missed, was the mostly naked 3 year old (t-shirt, underwear, socks and boots) rolling on the slushy, muddy, disgusting floor screaming "no! no! no!". Perhaps you, unlike the masses who walked by without exception avoiding eye contact though occasionally offering spare change, would have stopped and exclaimed "Piccola Pine Cone, WHY are you sitting on the floor? And why is Thing 1 naked when it is -10 degrees outside?". And the answer would have been because in that moment, having run out of ideas, patience, creativity and voice, I had very consciously decided to just give the f**k up for a brief interlude.
It is difficult to determine when one hits the absolute bottom of the valley floor until you have climbed up sufficiently high enough up the other side of the valley to gain perspective. Now, perched safely 2000 feet up with a clear view up and down the valley I can say with certainty that that moment was the absolute low in terrible toddlerhood.
I would also hesitantly add, we seem to have crossed some sort of important threshold in terms of maturity and behaviour. I say this without an ounce of smugness because I truly give myself zero credit for this patch of shiny, happy, sunny behaviour we seem to find ourselves currently basking in. It seems impossible to believe that that moment was only 7 weeks ago. Thing 1 is just so completely, utterly transformed. It is as if all the frustrating, hair-tearing-out aspects of her personality have melted away leaving behind a deliciously sweet pre-schooler. I can't even begin to describe... she comes when she is called, she helps out around the house (without me asking!), she puts on her boots and coat when I ask, I can go grocery shopping with Thing 1 & 2 without any back-up. If I tell her "no" in response to her request to buy a specific item in a store she turns around and puts it back. Can I just say that again: She turns around and puts it back! (The first time that happened I was so overjoyed, I seriously considered buying the item for her as a reward for being so good but then realized that might be hopelessly confusing for both of us.)
The parenting books. I read them all. "Easy to love, difficult to discipline", "Setting limits for your spirited child", "The happiest toddler on the block", "The explosive child", "You're a terrible mother and you're raising a monster" (ok, I might have dreamt that last one). The more I read parenting books, the less time I had to parent and really that's about all I can say for them. Sick of the smug authors, their complicated advice that they take over 300 pages to give. In the end for us,... it was just time. Not time outs, time ins, positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, sweet talk, hand checks, clap growls etc. etc. etc. Just time passing by. Thing 1's brain had to reach a certain stage of development and then it clicked (and yes of course we had to love her, refrain from beating her, etc. etc.) but my point is that I feel parenting.... barring egregiously bad parenting, changes little in behaviour as long as it falls within broad acceptable guidelines. The kid is going to calm down when they're ready. (Yes, of course I am generalizing based on my experience of one so the "advice" I am giving is worth about what you're paying for it :) ).
Anyway I want to stick a straw in this time and suck it all up. It is seriously delicious.
Though just in case I am annoying other parents with my happy fairy tales... first, of course all of this happened just in time for Thing 2 to start throwing tantrums so really, we are between valleys... not quite on the ridgeline. Second, lest I paint too much sunshine and rainbows, I do want to mention that in 11 months, Thing 2 has slept throught the night ONCE. That's right, ONCE! And that was after her flu shot and I am pretty sure that giving her a flu shot every day so that I can get some sleep is outside the "broad acceptable guidelines" of good parenting. (Is it weird that I just used quote marks to quote myself??). And not only has she only slept through the night once, her longest stretch of sleep is still only about 2.5 hours, oh except for lately when it seems to be down to 90 minutes. So yeah, always a challenge or two to grapple with.