A long time ago, as I was struggling to keep my head above water with twin infants, I read and re-read one sentence: "Once they turn four, things will settle down exponentially." Or something to that effect, from one of my "twin handbooks." I clung to that idea.... just make it to four, just make it to four. I was proud to make it past the one year mark, then we hit two, and I caught a glimpse of those terrible twos. In hindsight of the rubble left by the extra-super-terrible-threes, two was a cake walk. So we eventually hit FOUR. Hallelujah we hit four!
Eating out- 'cause Momma can't cook
Except... there's one problem. FOUR IS WORSE! This weekend was evident of this. For the longest time, they would only "act up" for the audience of just me. Nobody believed that these little pixies could be capable of such mayhem. I have my suspicions of The Husband's assumption in which I was perpetrating wild and intricate exaggerations when he'd ask me how my day was. You see, my husband is the picture of emotional restraint. When I'm screaming and stomping (the girls have started mirroring the stomping- drives me mad!) and generally losing it with the girls' behavior, he's usually the one that swoops in and stabilizes the situation.
Previous to this weekend, I'd never seen him lose his temper with the kids. However, the twins have reached a new level of tantruming, squawbling, baby-pushing, and whatnot. Now they do this in front of The Husband! We were both getting more than a little miffed all day Saturday. If one twin wasn't in time out or throwing a grade A temper tantrum, the other twin was doing such things. THE ENTIRE DAY this went on. Putting one or the other in time out, listening to the defiant screaming... oh help me. It was monumentally bad.
At the end of the day, I put the baby to bed and assigned The Husband twin bedtime duty. That's when I heard it, over the monitor- The Husband raising his voice in exasperation. This was my debut as chaos defuser extraordinaire. I helped get the sassy, wild, monkey-twins in pajamas and tucked in with a stern "No talking- no jumping on beds" reprimand.
The Husband shook his head and hung his head in defeat as we descended downstairs to collect ourselves. We talked for hours about the day's events. I reminded him of all the stories I'd told him- just how frustrated I had become! Even when I'm doing fun-Mom kind of stuff: like getting them freaking chocolate milkshakes! They turn it into a huge battle about if they do or do not want the straw, if they do or do not want to eat it in the car or wait until we get home- it's insane, and getting to be all so much! Four was supposed to be better! It was in writing! Printed on the dogeared page that I kept going back to for reassurance.
Now I'm starting to wonder if I'm cut out for this whole parenting thing. Especially when we were over at my family's house for the weekly Sunday Night Dinner. I was cajoling the twins to eat their meal... so they could have cake! Yummy cake! They flatly refused. Then my little brother, the single, 23 year old kid that has insanely little experience with small children observed: "well you say no cake, but every week you end up just giving them the cake. Just sayin."
At first I wanted to protest, because that's really not how we roll at our house... but at Grandma's we usually cave just to keep the whining to a minimum. It's harder to love up a child sprawled on the floor kicking and screaming. So I decided to NOT give them cake. I gave them every opportunity to finish their dinner, (which they didn't) and so started the tantrum. Fantastic. The Husband took the screaming offender to time-out.
.... and that's when my Mom piped in with her thoughts about punishing her for "having feelings," how she was just feeling sad due to the no cake rule, and having feelings was not being naughty... right? I was left a gasp! Where was THIS parenting strategy when I was a kid? Either she's got her grandma's rose colored glasses on- or she just doesn't understand. If there is anything my kids can do extraordinarily well, it is throw a royal tantrum. And they commit to it- hard. For hours and hours they can cry and rave about the same injustice. It's downright spirit killing! There have been times I've plotted my escape- like a caged prisoner! (the plan is to bait The Husband to taking the girls to bed- then telling him we're out of pull ups- and I will be the one to go pick up a box... never to return!)
At what point do I have to suffer through these tornadoes of tantrums, and when am I justified to put my foot down and demand they act like civilized four year olds! I'm not even asking for sterling behavior, just a bare minimum! I hate all the yelling, all the time outs, all the disciplining I am doing, too! I don't want to be the dark cloud! Yet I don't want those two ruling the roost! Are you the Tiger Mom or the Hippie Chill Momma?
Discuss amongst yourselves... I just noticed Little Man found a pack of batteries to play with. Stellar.