Toddler

My Toddler Is a Monster and It's All My Fault

by Ashleigh Wilkening

Photograph by Twenty20

I've created a monster and I only have myself to blame.

Who is this monster, you ask? My dearest second-born, who up until three months ago, was my youngest. Maybe this is only true for me, but hopefully other parents feel this strain. He was my little buddy, my sidekick and I was in complete denial he would soon go through the "terrible twos" or whatever the politically correct phrase is when your toddler starts to form his independence, show defiance and all the other unpleasantries associated with this stage of life.

What used to be spontaneous kisses, hugs and cries of "I love you" have been replaced with "no," "get away from me," and a complete unwillingness to listen and cooperate. His new favorite thing is to tell me to go to "timeout," which I happily withdraw to. In those moments, you can find me in the kitchen enjoying a reheated cup of coffee in solitude.

Most parents can see themselves in one—if not all—of their children. This is true for me with my second child. We have the same personality and temperament. We like the same foods, music and he’s always been my co-pilot to life's activities, enjoying every step of the way. He’s forever carefree, fun with an extra large side of goofy and silly.

It was great until this partnership sent me into a deep spiral of denial. It masked what impending doom waited for me in the not-too-distant future. Fast-forward to today and I’m living in toddler hell.

We've all encountered that kid who doesn’t like to share and is so completely self-absorbed that they constantly refuse to consider others. Well, that’s my son, ladies and gentlemen. When you cross paths with this type of child, you find yourself thinking their behavior is a result of the parents.

Now, I have a tiny tyrant on my hands and have to right my wrongs, no matter how hard it will be.

More often than not, that’s completely untrue. But I know that's not the case with me. I know my child’s behavior is a direct result of me and it stops here.

The other day at the playground, he told a child to get away from the equipment he fancied. Besides drowning in embarrassment, it was a true lightbulb moment. I’m only realizing it now and I take full responsibility. If I don’t take action now, he will grow up with the self-entitlement that I loathe in others.

So, what have I done to create this toddler monster?

I'm 100 percent guilty of babying my son; as a result, he has "only child syndrome" like you wouldn’t believe. While his brother was at school, he and I were a pair, and he grew accustomed to always being able to get everything his way. That’s not OK. Now, I have a tiny tyrant on my hands and have to right my wrongs, no matter how hard it will be.

Today, he wanted his brother's toy and he whined and cried about it all day. ALL DAY. Would it have been easier to just given it to him to stop his relentless pleas? Yes. Did I do that? No. Because he can’t always have what he wants.

I don’t want him to grow up unable to cope with life’s disappointments. He needs to learn struggles and how to navigate obstacles. So, from here on out, you can refer to me as the "mean mommy" who isn't giving in. We may not be friends, but it's not my job to be his friend. My job is to be his parent, teach life lessons and prepare him to navigate life on his own.

Oh, and to stop him from turning into a terrible monster, of course.

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