Why is it that whenever you try to leave the house your two-year-old turns into the most hideous monster? What is it about putting a coat on or even opening the door that makes everything and anything seem so much more interesting than the task in hand?
I am a person that hates being late. I’m not sure why. Maybe there is something rooted in my childhood that has made me terrified of being late or maybe I hate the thought of people waiting for me (let’s face it, I’ve spent most of my married life waiting for someone else, so I know how it feels!) or perhaps it’s none of those things. Nevertheless, I do not like being late. So, when you have a toddler you know you have to leave at least twice as much time to get out of the house, if not more. You must have seen Michael McIntyre’s ‘Let’s leave the house’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFQfylQ2Jgg which adds a great deal of humour to the horrendously stressful task. Yet, it continues to never be a pleasant experience despite starting to get ready 30 minutes before departure time is due.
Firstly, a wee. Has she done a wee before leaving the house or will there be a sudden call for a pit stop when there is nowhere to stop on the side of a busy road? But this brings all manner of monster opportunities – won’t wash hands, then far too much soap, then won’t dry hands before running up and down the landing multiple times, then throwing the hand towel on the floor, out of the bathroom, into the bath, wherever…
Secondly, we have to get down the stairs. But before that we have to find ‘my tick tock’ (watch), or choose which great number of story books we are going to take with us in the car, or decide suddenly ‘I don’t want to wear this cardie’, so undoes all the buttons and finds another and insists on doing all the buttons ‘by myself’. So, we get to the top of the stairs and I’m rushing on down to get the coats ready, and then we have tears because ‘I wanted to hold your hand down the stairs’. Now, if I’m in a good mood, up I’ll go and hold her hand, but if not the stern reply ‘Well, you should have been quicker’ (she’s two and nine months – what has she got to rush for?!).
Right, so now we’re downstairs; “What coat would you like to wear?” ERROR – don’t ask. Choose for her! She’ll have her whole life to choose what coat she wants to wear! Now does not need to be one of those times. One arm in and she’s run away to find something or forgotten to kiss her ‘blankie’ goodbye so is halfway up the stairs again. Back down, two arms in and zip done up. Coat on the floor and two-year-old running around the house. Deep breath. Eventually after putting the coat on four times and doing the zip up at least five we are ready to attack the shoes. At least they are both together and downstairs. And then she does that thing when they flop and become lifeless and however super strong you are you just can’t pick them up. One shoe on, dodge the kick to the face, and after several attempts and retrieving the other shoe from being hurled along the hallway, the second shoe is on. Are you still in one piece? Barely.
Into the car. If it hasn’t gone horribly wrong by now, this is definitely the final straw. She runs half way down the road (which of course is hilarious), and when finally retrieved by grabbing the hood, resulting in more tears, her back arches as you desperately try and find that middle strap for the car seat that always disappears at the back of the seat. Watch out for her flinging arms. Strap on. Beside myself by now and basically in tears (if not already).
You may have got to the end of this and are hoping for some magic remedy and someway of surviving the monster that leaves the house with you. But, alas, I have none. Just the sympathy that you are not alone and everyday each of us leaves with a monster but with consistency, patience and a little bit of humour (and the odd bit of bribery) that monster will one day be tamed and you’ll leave the house again feeling human and not like you’ve totally lost the plot and been the worst mother ever to leave the house. The boundary-pushing hormones of a two-year-old are there to help them know where and with whom they feel safe and protected. As mummy, that is the best thing you can offer them. So, to all the other mummies out there who tend to go from feeling ok to disliking themselves in the time it takes to get downstairs and out of the door, let’s keep loving our little monsters and stand together knowing that we’re doing ok!