An angry toddler is a determined toddler, in my experience. My toddler will stop at almost nothing to get his point across, and his point usually has something to do with obtaining the exact thing I refuse or am unable to provide. In his mind, the more he disrupts my sense of calm and sanity, the more likely it is I'll cave. At first I try to appease him by offering up second-best prizes, the best of which is the iPad. However, there are some moments when even an iPad can't keep my toddler sane and, for those moments, I thank God wine is a thing.
Do I second-guess my parenting for resorting to the iPad when my toddler's behavior goes off the rails? Sometimes. Still, those off-the-rails moments tend to happen when other things are going awry at the same time, like when my other son is refusing to read the books from his assigned reading bag and it is past bed time, or we are late for my older son's kindergarten drop off and I can't get my toddler to sit still for his diaper change. There are times when I can handle weathering a tantrum and times when we just don't have that luxury. When we do not have the luxury of sitting through a horrible all-out scream fest until my toddler has gotten it out of his system, the iPad comes out to the rescue.
Sometimes we luck out, and the iPad is The Great Appeaser. Other times, of course, there are moments that defy any appeasement, even one that consists of a bright and fun touchable screen with in-app purchase opportunities. Here are some of those moments, because I need some solidarity, dear reader.
When My Toddler Wants Breakfast & The Sun Isn't Even Up
Almost every "morning" our soon-to-be 3 year old opens his eyes to greet the dark sky, scampers into the kitchen, and climbs up to the counter before demanding his breakfast appetizer: a spoonful of Nutella. (Yes, we are super crazy health nuts around here).
On the mornings when my partner and I don't feel like we've each been hit by double wide trucks, we'll attempt to stand our ground and tell our son he may not have Nutella this early in the morning. "If you want to be awake right now, you only have one choice and that is to watch your iPad. If you don't want to watch iPad you can go back to bed." His response is to tantrum until we give him Nutella just so we can get another 10 minutes of sleep before our toddler-sized snooze alarm goes off again (i.e. when he asks for his second spoonful).
When That Thing I Ordered From Amazon Doesn't Magically Appear IRL From Inside The Computer
Toddlers don't really understand how ordering things on the internet works quite yet. So when my toddler asks me for a Rapunzel dress and I mumble something that lets him know that, yes, I will order this dress at some point soon because his birthday is coming up, he gets pretty excited. "Hooray!" he shouts, the second after I say I will order it.
That's when I realize he thinks that the dress should have magically appeared somewhere in our apartment, simply because I may have "ordered" it. I try to appease him with watching the movie Tangled, but that just makes him even more annoyed. Now he's stuck gazing at the dress he cannot have and the princess he only wishes he could be.
When We Run Out Of Nutella
On the rare occasions when there is no more Nutella in the house, I sometimes ponder quietly sneaking out, changing my name, and escaping to a nice Caribbean island somewhere. The screams that come out of my toddler's little body have the capacity to shake our walls, and those of the neighboring apartments. Sometimes I wonder if Nutella runs through his veins instead of actual human blood.
I could promise him endless access to an iPad and any Disney movie of his choosing, but he won't hear me. Instead, he'll just see me mouthing words while he thinks about the absence of Nutella reigned over his mind.
When I Can't Figure Out Which 'Peppa Pig' Episode He Wants Me To Find For Him
Toddlers will request seemingly nonsensical episodes of their favorite television shows that sometimes sound like the character of Stefon from Saturday Night Live describing one of New York's hottest clubs: "It's the episode with the bread on the carousel twirling on top of George's nose with a fairy costume." Ohhhhhh. That one?
It won't matter if I queue up for him the two hour compilation of every other Peppa Pig episode under the sun on an iPad, if he doesn't get this specific episode, all hell breaks loose.
When I Won't Let Him Wear His Elsa Dress To Preschool
In our house, we are all about the princess dresses. However, my son's school prefers that children do not come to class dressed in any costume, whether that costume is a princess dress, fireman, or whatever. I don't make it about "boys can't wear dresses outside the home" because I absolutely believe boys can wear whatever they want (as can girls).
When he really wants to wear his dress to school and I say no, he will protest and throw his body on the floor so that I have to drag him off of it and onto the stroller.
When I Tell Him Three Cookies Before Bed Is The Absolute Limit
We've definitely gone off the deep-end with dessert. Dessert is no longer a special thing in my house, but a given food item that occurs multiple times a day after having eaten something "healthy." What is a normal reward food for most children is just run-of-the-mill for mine. My toddler has come to depend on his dessert being part of his night time routine. Right after bath, it is back into the kitchen counter seat to demand a cookie, or ice cream, or bites of a chocolate bar.
On days when I'm trying to get stuff done around the house I might lose track of how many desert items my children have and just say "yes." However, when I'm more on the ball, I realize that maybe two cookies after having had a brownie after lunch, and ice cream after school, is a bit much (even for us). If I dare put my foot down, it is tantrum-city. Even if I say he can watch 10 more minutes of iPad (to try to distract them) before bed, he doesn't care. Whatever plates were on the counter are whizzing across the table and crashing into the sink, courtesy of my angry toddler.
When He Decides He Wanted To Help Walk The Dog Five Minutes After My Partner Has Already Left To Walk The Dog
My husband usually asks my son if he would like to go with him to walk the dog, and most of the time my toddler says that he doesn't want to because he is busy in another activity. Then, as soon as the door shuts to the apartment, my son does a complete 180 and runs to the door shouting, "I wanna come! I wanna come!" Of course it is too late, as my husband is already out the door and halfway down our Brooklyn block.
This usually takes place early in the morning on weekends when I'm still in underwear and a tank top, so when my toddler runs into the hallway to chase after his dad, it is a little bit awkward. I hold the iPad, like I'm baiting him, and say, "C'mere boy. I have your ipad! C'mere! Who wants to play?" It doesn't work. He ends up sitting in the hallway and crying while I hide half my body behind our front door until my husband gets back from the walk.
When He Refuses To Sit In His Stroller & Wants To Be Carried
Some days my toddler wants to be a baby, and some days he gets this bright idea that he is a "big boy." On the days when he wants to be a "big boy," he is often a little mixed up about it. We will start out the usual way, in a stroller, and then, usually when we are at least 45 minutes away from our house, he will decide he would prefer walking. Sure. I"ll push the stroller and he will walk for, like, two minutes. Then he will insist that I carry him. When I say no, he flips out. I tell him to get in the stroller, and that's the final straw. We are now in full on meltdown mode.
My son becomes one of those kids you passed on the street and think to yourself, "My kids will never be like that kid over there." I keep shoving my iPhone in his face, with the promise of toy videos for him to watch the whole way home, but he won't stop the tantrum until I finally give in and scoop him up in my arms. My whole left side is sore for the next three weeks.