At nineteen months, little elf is learning how to do tantrums. We’re used to the decisive “NO!”, generally teamed with a pout, beetling little brows and a vigourous shake of the head, but she’s starting to throw howling, raging temper fits whenever she’s made to do something or denied something she’s set her heart on. And the earlier she wakes up, the worse they’re liable to be.
This morning, she woke up at 5:25am and lasted about five minutes in our bed before she was attempting to drag off the duvet and wake up a very sleepy and grumpy supermum. Resistance met with growls, shakes of the head and wails. Finally, I plonked her in front of the TV (I KNOW, I KNOW! BAAAAAD DAD) and staggered off to put the kettle on. Thirty seconds later, she was back in our room screeching for attention, assault-coursing around the bed and demanding that supermum left her cave immediately.
(Note: Supermum is a bear in the mornings. A bear in the middle of winter. With claws.)
Finally, dudelet charged into the room and decoyed her out with a cunningly deployed miniature Pepperoni. I chose to strategically overlook the ‘no food out of the kitchen’ rule.
Eventually, I got them both into the kitchen, though Little Elf continued to pinball between supermum, by now getting ready for work, and attempting to empty the fridge. Removing her from the fridge generated the first major tantrum of the day. Supermum leaving provided another. The piece de resistance (and I do mean resistance), however, came when I tried to get her dressed. It escalated from “NO!” to “EEEEEE!” to “GRAAAAHHHHHH!” in about two minutes and remained at the level of a coruscatingly violent death metal growl for the subsequent ten while I stuffed her into the bare minimum of clothing. More or less dressed, she carried on screeching and growling on the floor.
Yes, I really was expecting her head to start revolving like a police light.
Eventually, I had to leave her where she was to calm down, having removed anything breakable or liable to cause injuries from the immediate vicinity. Meanwhile, Dudelet was watching a few minutes of CBBC.
“She’s shouting,” he told me.
“I know,” I said. I went back to get her and see if she’d accept a cuddle as the noise died down, only to find that she’d shut her door and was lying with her feet against it. Everytime I or dudelet tried to open it, she’d push it shut. We were due to leave – if we don’t get to the childminder’s by a certain point, she heads out to take her other charge to school.
I rang up supermum for advice.
“Try going downstairs and letting her think you’re leaving,” she suggested, heartlessly. So we did. I stomped down the stairs and dudelet stood outside her door (which possibly undermined the effect a little) shouting “‘Bye!”. Thirty seconds later, she emerged clutching her rabbit, scrambled down the stairs and got into her pram.
She gurgled and sang happily to herself all the way there and beamed at the childminder as she opened the door.
“You look happy today, ” said the childminder.