The evil genius of a toddler…

Last year I was locked out of the house – intentionally – by the youngest child, Callum, who was only two and a half at the time. His moves were calculated, determined and three steps ahead of mine. How can it be that a two year old can out smart me and deny me entrance to my own house?

Callum, Lachlan and I were sitting on the couch when, suddenly, I felt the need to visit the toilet. Upon entering the loo I saw that we were out of toilet paper, so I went to the garage, where the extras are kept, to retrieve a roll. Lachy followed me and within seconds the garage door was shut behind us by Callum, who was on the other side of the door. Click! I knew that sound well, it was the engaging of the lock. Shit!

Not to fear. I am the adult here. Callum is easily bribed by the offer of a lolly or icypole if he’s negotiating hard that day. I knocked on the door.

“Callum. Open the door please sweetie,” I said, my voice gentle and full of love.

“No.” His answer was instant.

“Callum, please sweets. Be a good boy for mummy and open the door.” Yeah, any moment he’ll cave.

“No.” Another instant answer.

I knocked on the door again, a little louder this time, but not loud enough to wake everyone else up. He’s just playing hard ball, waiting for me to offer a reward/bribe.
“Cal, gorgeous little man. Please open the door for mum,” I said. “I’ll give you a lolly.”

“NO.” He didn’t even think about it. Not even two seconds to consider my offer.

“Alright Cal, two lollies. Just open the door please,” I said, my need to pee reflected in my voice.

“NO!”

Shit! (internal thought only)

So I belted on the door harder.

“Cal, open this door!”

“NO!”

Belt, belt, belt with the palm of my hand.

“Callum, open this door, now!”

“NO!”

Shity, shit, shit. (another internal thought)

Both the side laundry and back doors were unlocked, but I’d have to open the motorised garage door, which could wake Jason up. But there was no option. There was no other way out of the garage unless I could flatten myself to pancake proportions and slip under the door. The motorised door creaked and groaned its way upwards.

Lachy and I walked in through the side gate and around to the laundry. Just as I was about to open it I hear ‘click’. Callum locked the door. He was standing inside, smiling at me. Little shit.

So I shimmied over the half fence that keeps the dogs away from the washing line, under the assumption that Jason had secured it to the wall, that it wasn’t a ‘moving’ fence. I was wrong. It leaned to one side and almost fell on top of me, leaving a huge scratch and instant bruise down the back of my thigh. Ouch.

Callum then unlocked the laundry door, poked his head out and smiled at us.

“Quick Lachy, run inside before he closes the door,” I said.

Click! The door was locked again.

“Ok, just stand next to the door, he might let you in. I’ll go to the back door and get in that way,” I said.

So I get to the back door and guess what? Callum has locked it. Premeditated! He locked the only remaining open door in the house in anticipation of me trying to gain entry through it. Smart arse.

By that stage my bladder was bursting and the only alternative open to me was to wee in the garden, like a dog. Great, the neighbours would see me tinkling in the shrubs. No thanks. I’d pee myself before that happened.

Callum was standing a few feet away from the back door as he smiled and waved at me. I was fuming, crossing my legs like a four year old, and swearing under my breath.
“Open the door, Callum!” I demanded.

He shook his head from side to side and just as my bladder was about to exlpode, my little saviour, Lachlan, ran in and opened the door. Callum had let him on the laundry door, but didn’t count in his loyalty to me.

I hugged Lachy (quickly), promised him a lolly and sprinted to the toilet.

The moral of this story? Never, ever, underestimate a two year old with a wicked sense of humour because even though they are cute, squishy and little, they have the enormous capacity to make an absolute idiot out of you.

The toddler strategy…

Toddlers are nature’s birth control. There’s no doubt about it. The terrible twos is nothing compared to the “oh my god, is that wine bottle empty already” threes. It’s a testament to parental love that most of us made it to the age of four without our parents selling us, trading us or locking us in a cupboard for eighteen months.

So, here’s an idea: instead of lecturing teenagers on the perils of unprotected sex, let’s just lob them with a toddler for a weekend. Let them experience the ultimate consequence of unprotected sex; it’s not just a myriad of sexually transmitted diseases and a wet patch they have to deal with. Try living with a bellowing, tantruming, three year old whose vocabulary consists of three words: no, mine and AAAARRRRGGGGGHHHH! After that, a lifetime of herpes won’t seem so bad. (We just won’t tell them that the great parts of parenting far outweigh the bad days!)

So far this year, my three year old has accidentally head butted me and chipped three teeth, refused to comply with the ‘sitting on our bottoms on the couch’ policy as he bounces along like Captain Kangaroo, and takes an open buffet style approach to the locked pantry and fridge and then isn’t hungry for dinner. In fact, he picks his nose and eat his own boogies more frequently than he eats my cooking.

For a good six months he made his presence felt with a series of ‘surprise poohs’ left in various parts of the house and garden. There’s really nothing more confronting than finding half a turd and not having a clue where the other half is lurking. There have been surprise poohs left on the outdoor dining setting, on top of both the dog kennels, mushed into the carpet with my favourite baking spatula (RIP baking spatula, I miss you), and smeared across mirrors and walls like a mural with various household items stuck to it for texture. He’s even shat in an upturned bessa brick in the backyard.

He has increased his fine motor skills by tracing the grout between our tiles with various coloured textas, drawn on his brother’s homework and spilt so much food and drink on the couch that it resembles a ten seater petrie dish. In public as he licks shop windows and menu boards and leaves great cascades of saliva in his wake, (not often, but how many times does it have to happen to be embarassing?)

Yet despite all this we still love him. Why? Because he’s intolerably cute, that’s why. He has cheeks that flop and bounce with each step he takes, eyes like endless wells of dark chocolate, chunky thighs that would make a good meal, flat feet that splat on the ground when he walks and the most gorgeous little bum with the perfect amount of wobble. His smile is a mile wide and his eyes close so hard when he grins that it looks as though his eyeballs are being forced backwards into the cavity of his head. He laughs like a squeaky toy and still has that little child voice: soft, sweet and chirpy. He smells better than any home baking and my favourite part of the day is snuggling up with him at bed time and inhaling his delicious scent. But most of all, he’s cuddly, snugly, smiley and manages to erase my memory of all the toddler-esque things he does with four little words, ‘I wub you mum.’

Tantrums for toddlers 101…

Dear fellow Toddlers,

Thank you for enrolling in Tantrums 101. As a four year old, I have two years of successful tantruming experience behind me and it is my honour and duty to pass these tips onto you, the next generation of toddlers. You have a fine tradition to uphold and I will make no bones about it, tantruming is an art, a science and a responsibility.

Countless generations of toddlers before you have applied these techniques with varying degrees of success. You will not win every battle, but by god, you will give it your best shot. You will not quit until you are red, breathless and covered in your own snot.

Frustration leads to weariness, weariness leads to tiredness, tiredness leads to exhaustion and exhaustion leads to a collapse of the parent’s moral high ground. This is our aim, toddlers. Parents must be broken, worn down, defeated if we are to win the right to endless lollipops, bubbly drinks and cheap Taiwanese toys.

There will be those who consider themselves above being broken. They will resist with all their might. They do this out of a misguided sense of parental authority. Do not let them deceive you! These parents must be worn down, otherwise they will set a dangerous precedent of ‘controlling the situation’. Remember, be strong, be resilient, be committed and above all, be spectacularly awful.  Go forth and make spectacles of yourselves.

The stages of a tantrum:

1.   The Wind up –  consisting of repetitive negative dialogue – NO! NOOO! NOOOOOOOOOO!  It’s at this point that you make a one syllable word stretch on for three minutes of speech. Don’t give in, even if you’re having second thoughts. Commitment is the key to success. At this stage the parent should have a surprised look on their face bordering on confusion. This is what we call ‘dumbfounded’.

2.   The get-the-hell-away-from-me dance – this is when the child performs a series of physical jigs in order to resist the parent’s attempts to hold his/her hand, restrain him/her in a pram or shove him/her into the trolley and  make a run for it before the parent is recognised by nosey neighbours. At this stage the parent will be flustered but focused on getting you in that pram. DO NOT let this happen. This is the deal breaker. Tantrums do not work in the privacy of the car or home. They only work in public spaces, the bigger the better.  Do not allow yourself to be taken to a second location.

3. The Point of No Return – it’s all over for the parent at this stage. There’s nothing the parent can do other than to attempt to deflect the death stares of passers-by. The toddler will be engaged in a series of high pitched screams capable of dividing the human brain straight down the centre. His or her complexion will be on the scarlet side of healthy and a tear-like substance will be streaming down his or her’s face in an attempt to convince the parent, and passers-by, that this episode is causing real emotional trauma. At this point the parent may be open to negotiation. It’s here that the toddler must consider his or her options – take the deal on offer or negotiate for more.

If you choose to take the offer then the tantrum is over and a victory has occurred.

If you choose to hold out for a better deal, or to teach your parent a lesson they won’t forget, then continue to step 4.

4.   The ‘Get- me-the- fuck- out- of- here’ stage – this is usually the last stage in the process of getting what you want. The parent’s nerves are, generally, more frayed than the eyes of a  macramé owl. Their blood pressure is high enough to power Las Vegas and their manual dexterity has given way to a series of uncontrolled muscle spasms and tics. This is the time for you to draw on the last of your energy reserves and give it all you’ve got, including horizontal full bodily thrashing. Scream until you gurgle, gurgle until you vomit, vomit until you pass out. By now your mucus membranes should be in shut down mode from an over production of snot and dribble that is now covering your clean t-shirt , the hands of your parent and any siblings or well meaning, but deluded, passers-by that may be present.

Once the parent has conceded defeat, you may return to your normal demeanour. But don’t forget to sniff, whimper and inhale oxygen  in staggered increments as your chin wobbles. Of course, this exercise is utterly exhausting on everyone, particularly you. So, as you hold onto your cheap Taiwanese toy or lollipop, be sure to get some well deserved shut eye on the way home. You may need your energy again as soon as your parent chooses to, foolishly, flex some parental muscle in another battle of wills.