Monday, 16 August 2010

Terrible Two

I'm told that twins are harder work than one.  Everyone says so, both in words and silently.  You hear it in the pitying looks you get when you waddle past at 34 weeks pregnant and bigger than most at full term, or the gasps of shock from old ladies who peer in the pram, or the admiring glances when, by some miracle, and for more than ten seconds in a row, both babies are on top cute form.

But, you know what? I never really felt it.

I think the thing about having twins, especially after having a singleton, is that you realise that all you can do is to deal with what life throws at you in the best way you possibly can.  And yes, at times it feels impossibly hard, but it did with L too, and I can't honestly say that the worst moments with L were worse than the worst moments with A and S.

Until now.

Now I get it.  Now, two, at nearly two, are hard.  Harder than one.  Oh, so much harder than one...

We're at that stage.  And the fact that I know it's a stage isn't making it easier.  That stage where the penalty for failure is death.

And I fail.  Regularly, reliably and unremittingly, I fail.  I take off their pyjamas when they want them on. I choose the wrong socks.  I take the banana out of its skin.  I give them macaroni cheese for supper.  I put them in their pushchair.  I get them out of their pushchair.  I give them the wrong toy.  I stop them playing with the door.  I say "no".

So I fail.  And the punishment is swift and relentless.  Screams of pain, of misery, of years of unloved neglect.  Of the unrecoverable sadness that only a well-fed, cossetted, adored 20-month-old can feel when she's been told she can't have a packet of raisins.

And sitting here, both of them asleep upstairs, it's funny.  But oh, when you're living it, when you're jiggling a writhing, caterwauling baby on your hip, as she pushes and fights with rage-fuelled strength, flailing with both arms at your glasses, yanking on your hair, while you desperately try to soothe her, though with no idea what it is that you did wrong, and simultaneously try to ignore the desperate wails from your ankles as the other one screams with fury because she can't take off her shoes, knowing all along that you're failing their big sister, who just wants you to read me a story Mummy please, the funny side seems so very far away.

It's just a stage.  It's born of frustration.  I know it. They can't talk.  They can't say "Not those socks; the blue ones please Mummy", or "Please could you possibly cut up the banana for me in slices no more than half a centimetre thick" so they voice their displeasure, they express their personalities, they show their independence in the only way they can.  All babies do it.  It's part of being nearly two.  I get it. I really do. 

I just wish I'd realised how calm my life was with just the one.


  1. I can't begin to understand how hard it must be to have three little ones when all I've ever had is one child. When's the next good phase due? Let's hope it's soon.

  2. Oh lovely, what a shitty time this is. No use prettying things up, life with little ones from 18 moths until 2.5/3 years is in my view, the toughest time for a parent. Give me a screeching newborn any day over this stage. Not a very helpful comment I know but you've said you know it's a stage. Of course it is but it's total pants when you are in the middle of it. Chin up gorgeous it will pass. And if all else fails, get the Male to kiddy proof the garden, put their coats on to protect them from the notorious scottish cold and send the buggers outside for a while on their own whilst you have a cuppa in the kitchen *supervising* from the window.

    Sorry, must dash. I think Social Services are knocking on my door.

    MD xxx

  3. totally agree!! i only have the twins but still, a week from being 2 years old and it is tough!!!! very tough...looking back, infancy was easy! esther

  4. I found the 2s tough with one. I had a small amount of time with an 18 month and 3 yo which was a nightmare, until 3 yo grew out of it all. Big hugs. Like you know it is a phase. One that you'll laugh about soon enough. But some of these phases just can't end soon enough!

  5. Yes, but how long a phase - my 3 and 6 year old still get upset if I do the 'wrong thing' - take the banana out of it's skin, put the wrong food on the table, or numerous other petty things. It's not the fact that they can't ask (they can), they just expect you to know without them saying anything.

  6. Even if they can talk and tell you their preferences (as my daughter can now at 26 months), it'll still be "Fail". My DD says, "No, I don't want the red socks I want the blue" but when I give her the blue then she gets mad and starts wailing "No, no, no!" Or "Do you want Cheerios or toast?" She retorts, "No!" Then tantrum. Ho hum. Can't wait until she becomes an uncommunicative teenager ;-)

  7. Very, very tough I should imagine. Find it tough with just the one two year old. The ten year old is past the tantrums. We're almost on the sullen sulks of teenagedom.

    Still, this too shall pass!

  8. Trish - reading the comments below I get the impression the next good phase is either university or boarding school, whichever is the sooner...! Seriously though, they can be gorgeous, it's just when they're not that I want to tear all of our hair out...

    MD - thank you my lovely! I'm glad someone agrees with me. They can be so cute, but they can also be such monsters.... I like the idea though, but can it be a large gin instead?

    Esther - it was easier when they were babies, wasn't it?! But then that's true with a singleton as well... although you've made me realise that this too is the first time I haven't found it easier having the elder one too (to practice on!), sometimes she helps, but more often she like to join in with the tantrums... hey ho!

    Pants with names - Thank you for the hug - it helps, it really does... Actually they've been better in the last couple of days, but it's just the having two all at the same time, especially when L decides not to cooperate too, and I become someone I really don't like very much...

    Jude - 6?! Oh help!

    Planethalder - Don't I know it?! L, at 3 and a bit is still totally capable of having a strop over the most ridiculous things (last night it was because I washed her hair before cleaning her teeth), but at least she can explain what she wants, or what it is I did wrong... She doesn't always bother, admittedly...!

    Deer Baby - Oh help! Teenagers! I'm going to have three girls, all with hormones ablaze. And if I time it really right I'll be going through the menopause at the same time....

  9. ps Esther - love your blog, and your gorgeous boys (and that you can dress them identically - I've got a post brewing about why I can't and don't), but can't comment on it because it either wants me to set up a posterous blog, which I don't need to, or login through facebook which would tell the world my real name... So I can't, sorry, but will be reading!

  10. Great post - brings it all back and more : ) Following you now through the multiple mayhem carnival xx

  11. You do not fail.

    That's what I wanted to say!

    Much love to you. x

  12. Oh yes..ditto. My girls are spending a lot of time and attention perfecting their tantrums and I have to begrudgingly admit sometimes I'm impressed with their stamina to be so stubborn and scream so loudly for so long.
    Where do they get the energy?

  13. Crikey, you have my sympathy. I am struggling with the same thing with Hamish at the moment and Orla at 3 is the most whiney, moany person I think I have ever come across save my father-in-law. I often have secret desirous thoughts of boarding nurseries...and those are the good days when I get a chance to think. It's not often I want to be 37, but I reckon things might be better then. Fingers crossed x

  14. Karen - thank you and welcome!

    Linda - thank you!. But you know what I mean.

    Mari's world - and is one worse than the other? We've got that here, and although I try so hard not to compare, I fail at that too....

    Fiona - yes, 37 would be good - they'll all be at school then!


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