Toddler tantrums are bad enough, but when you have two, and the rage is directed at each other, ‘fear’ would be putting it politely. The violence largely takes the form of scratching, thumping, pushing and biting. Sometimes there is an obvious cause – a snatched book – and sometimes it’s simply displaced internal fury and frustration. But mostly it’s about me. Mummy is MINE!
I know they’re going through the Mummy-centric phase, and, at times, it’s lovely to be positively worshipped. There is nothing quite so delicious as two tiny arms being flung around your neck and a downy head being nuzzled into you. But the problem is there’s only one of me, and two of them, and we have not yet fully accepted the concept of sharing. Charlotte is wonderfully affectionate, and cuddles are easily her favourite thing on the planet (well, after Welsh Cakes) but she has twin radar and, even with her back turned, will be aware that I’m daring to snuggle her sister, and try to push Romilly off my lap. Or thump her. Or she’ll just ooze her way onto me, ever so slowly till Romilly slides off the other side. Or if I’m cuddling her, she’ll spread herself out so much there’s no room.
No one else is allowed to cuddle her, so we can’t even divide and conquer. I think she would stitch herself onto me if she could.
The issue is, what with that and the violence, I am getting increasingly worried about Romilly. She appears to have accepted her lot. The crying when she’s scratched has almost stopped. If Charlotte comes near us when we’re cuddling, she’ll quietly remove herself. Most heartbreakingly, when we had a rare ten minutes on our own the other day, she was just so overjoyed. The happiness was bubbling out of her. She’s always been more independent than Charlotte, who personifies neediness, but I don’t want her to be passive and just think self reliance is her lot in life.
Charlotte meanwhile is just (sorry to say this about my child and obviously this is all qualified by the fact I love her and she’s only ickle and this is all understandable because IT’S MY FAULT for being evil and taking them to nursery) displaying classic bully tendencies, in that all of this behaviour is to disguise her own fear, especially over my absence. She hides from strangers, she quivers on the swings, she really doesn’t like going freestyle (ie not in a chair) in the bath…And in textbook domestic violence behaviour, overdoes it on the ‘sorrys’ and snuggles and going ‘ah’ to her sister afterwards, thinking that will make it all OK.
So it’s a twin strategy (geddit) of continuing with disciplining Charlotte (she gets shut in the playpen for two minutes and then we have a little talk about stroking and taking turns and sharing, pah, that may sink in at some point in the next two years) and then carving out time each day for Romilly on her own.
The thing which makes me feel even worse and emphasises the point that this is a Mummy Thing is that the nursery were genuinely surprised when I told them the cause of Romilly’s latest wound. Apparently Charlotte is good as gold there, and they’re always cuddling each other and playing together and making each other giggle and helping each other with lunch. Janus!
Talking of which, the ladies have got their next virus from nursery, a sort of conjunctivitis/earache/runny nose/general whinge cocktail. Ah the joys of ‘building up their immunity’. Yesterday was EXCELLENT. Whisking them off to the GP, two kindly old gents in the waiting room tried to entertain them, managing instead to reduce them both to utter meltdown. By the time we got into the doctor’s room, Romilly was pink and blotchy and breathing unevenly, and Charlotte had got so worked up that when the GP whisked out the stethoscope she promptly vommed all over me. Charlotte, that is, not the doctor.
The (understandable) whining and food flinging continued all day and, just when we were finishing off tea, and the bed time end was in sight (oh the bliss of then just SITTING in PEACE AND QUIET and having a double header of Simon Reeve and Gareth Malone!), the cat was sick on the floor and, forgetting this instantly, I stepped in it. In bare feet.
On a lighter note, the girls are enjoying their first sketch show (I use that term loosely, I find it worse than stepping in cat sick) Gigglebiz on CBeebies. Charlotte particularly likes the Farmer Dung character, pictured below, shouting ‘Daddy!’ excitedly and pointing. No comment…