Of course, I've been through this process twice before so I should know what to expect, shouldn't I? If only I did! Every child is different, and they have all challenged me in different ways. I never know what to expect and I certainly haven't got all the answers. Every single day I need to adapt and learn about my children and how to deal with their behaviour . Sometimes I get it right, but I suspect that it's down to more luck than judgement.
My children constantly test me in every way imaginable. I left school quite a few years ago and thought I'd left all the exams behind me. Oh no. Not with my boys. I get spelling tests, maths tests and English language tests. Then they'll move on to religious studies, history, geography..... The list goes on. I really wish I'd concentrated more in school.
But the biggest test of all is the parenting one.
Some things were easy to pick up. How to feed a baby, change their nappy, hold them properly. I can manage all that. In fact, anything to do with a tiny little baby I can deal with. It's when they become independent little beings trying to assert their independence that I start searching for that manual that all babies should come with.
I remember my oldest having his first ever toddler tantrum at the age of 15 months. He wanted a Postman Pat van in a shop in Centre Parc and I told him that he would have to wait. He lay face down on the floor and started screaming at the top of his lungs. I felt like everything was moving in slow motion except for the thoughts racing through my sleep deprived, pregnancy (35 weeks with number 2) addled brain. I felt like everyone had stopped and was watching and waiting to see how I would react. Would I give in? Would I ignore him? What should I do? It was my First Big Test.
I didn't give in. I picked him up and took him out of the shop. I also quickly learned not to care about what others think. There were plenty more of those tantrums to come.
So back to my youngest. I think I can safely say that in the last two weeks he has entered that unknown territory called the Terrible Twos. He shouts, he pouts, he demands. He too lies face down on the floor in a fit of temper if he doesn't get his own way.
He has gone from this......
in what seems like a very short space of time. Luckily there's lots of this in between........
I don't think that it matters how many children you have; it never seems to get any easier. In fact, as my children get older, their behaviour becomes more complex, and more difficult to manage. I reflect on everything I've done with them and analyse my parenting skills (or lack thereof), to see if I could have done something differently. Why is my oldest so cheeky? Why does my middle boy still have temper tantrums? Can I avoid this with my youngest?
The only answer I can ever come up with is that they will be what they will be. I made them all (with a little bit of help from hubby of course), I am raising them all in the same way, but they are each unique little people. They are growing into their personalities and they fascinate me as I watch how they learn and develop. For better or worse, I love them for who they are.
But if someone ever finds that manual, please pass it on!