When our youngest daughter Beatrice began having a tantrum this morning before we’d even got out of bed, Jessie and I had a couple of joking ideas to solve the problem. I wondered if we could lock her in her bedroom and leave her to get on with it, occasionally throwing tangerines and scraps of bread through. Jessie wondered if it might be more humane to set her free in the woods to begin a life as a feral child with a family of foxes or badgers.
It’s safe to say that Beatrice has entered the realm of the “terrible twos.” Either that or we need to look out some holy water and find a good priest. No, she’s not that bad really. In fact, when we’re feeling strong (like not on New Year’s Day,) it’s pretty funny. For such a little thing, she’s incredibly manipulative.
Rather than giving up or just lying on the floor screaming when she’s told “no” on a particular subject, she’ll have a brief hissy-fit before coming back with an alternative suggestion that will either be very close to the unacceptable suggestion she originally made, or it will be something equally unacceptable.
So for instance, if she comes into the sitting room carrying a cup full of water and sloshing it all over the floor, we’ll tell her “No, you’re making a mess,” and confiscate it. She’ll retreat to her room for a brief shout and a little think before coming back through with a different cup, pointing a knowing finger and saying, “I dust use difflent cup.”
Yesterday at bath time she decided she wanted to dress up as Tinkerbell so she took the costume to mummy. But mummy said, “No darling, it’s bath time.” There was a shout of frustration and she thundered back to her bedroom. Then she re-emerged calling “Daddy,” in her cutest possible voice, “Please I dless up as Tinkabell?” … “No, mummy told you, it’s bath time.” … “AArghh… patter, patter, patter, Thud,” back to her bedroom. Then, after the bath had run, I went back to see where the monster was. She was standing in the hall wearing her Tinkerbell costume, “I dust put it on myself,” she said accompanied by her little finger point.
Of course she does all the usual two-year-old things that infuriate people: eating paint, pulling everything out of the kitchen cupboards, taking a single bite out of every piece of fruit in the fruit bowl before putting them back, pooing on the carpet, puking on the carpet, drawing on the carpet, drawing on the walls, drawing on other people’s walls, drawing on other people’s white bed sheets, eating glue, licking the dog, licking cars, licking the freezer, getting her tongue stuck to the freezer… standard stuff. But it’s her psychological naughtiness that gets to us. She knows when we’re feeling weak and she knows which of us is feeling weak. She’s like a pack of wolves singling out the old, slow bison.
For instance, right now, Jessie is feeling a bit poorly and is lying in bed. I’ve put on “Scoobie Doo” downstairs for the girls so Jessie can rest and I can write this. But Beatrice is too clever to fall for that one. She’s spotted the old, slow bison and has crept back into the bedroom carrying a large book, (those who’ve heard of “Poppy and Sam” will now be feeling our pain.)
She sidles up to the bed and presents the book to Jessie – “You read mummy?” … “No, I’m not feeling well, ask daddy.” … “No.”
Only the slow, struggling bison will do. “Dust one storly mummy, please, please.” … “OK, just one.” … “Yes, dust one.”
But, when she’s got her teeth in there’s no way she’s letting go. When Jessie stops reading for the briefest moment to call something to me, all I can hear is “Read mummy, read! READ MUMMY, READ. MUMMMMYYYY REEEEAAAADDD!!!!”
The only thing that will currently keep her quiet is playing with Jessie’s iPhone. She’s learned to operate it with surprising skill. She can find and watch episodes of “Angelina Ballerina,” and play some of the awful games we’ve downloaded. But her favourite is to delete photos, contacts, diary entries and other useful pieces of information from the phone’s memory. “I dust pless dis button,” … “NO, not that button!” … “Solly mummy, it an accident.”
Jessie’s now gone downstairs and I just heard her offer Bea a drink of water. “No.” … “Well, what would you like?” … “A little picnic, a biscuit, a nanana, olange djuice.”
Oh well, I suppose it was self-inflicted so we’ve got no grounds for complaint.