As the self-styled “Mellow Mummy” I have a lot to live up to when it comes to withstanding the trials of motherhood. Being a mum to a two-year-old is testing my mellowness to the MAX and, at 2 years and 7 months, I'm still not sure that I have decided what my approach to handling the so-called 'terrible twos' is.
Christmas was a particularly testing time. An over-excited pre-schooler is great fun to watch, but not so fun when tiredness kicks in and tempers fray. As Christmas turned into New Year, I stopped excusing the wild behaviour and insisted on the normal house rules - “please”, “thank-you”, a ration of trashy TV and something vaguely resembling a tidy house (OK, I'd be happy if the place just looked like a bomb had hit it instead of the current complete nuclear fallout).
After my daughter's first full day back at nursery I decided to play the “mummy-is-boss” card and insisted that the enormous tub of mega-bloks was tidied away BEFORE a jigsaw could be played on the floor. It wasn't just a power trip, more a practical approach to ensuring that the jigsaw could actually be completed without the obstruction of stray building blocks. My polite requests to tidy were met with complete silence and a deliberately turned back that any cat owner would recognise immediately.
On day two I took a different approach. Several hours after our first request for Lara to tidy the mega-bloks I had resorted to Cadbury's Button bribery but Lara went to bed that night without chocolate and with the blocks still scattered across the floor.
On day three both myself and my husband decided to stand our ground. The mega-bloks were by now becoming part of the scenery and I had resigned myself to their permanency on the living room floor. Today's attempt resulted in a frenzy of screaming, kicking and throwing and even our first attempt as using the naughty step (entirely unsuccessful). My husband sat down next to Lara and insisted that she place the first building block into the box, then she turned and snapped “YOU do the rest”. Hmmm, that's not how this game works. It took several more hours of co-ercion but eventually, after 3 days of power-struggle our two-year-old saw reason and the building bricks where stowed away.
On day four and angelic Lara came home from nursery, emptied the box of bricks and built me a castle. The bricks are still there on the living room carpet.