12/07/2011 11:21 am ET Updated Feb 06, 2012

Tonight's Tantrums

Everyone seems to have advice about the terrible twos these days. My husband wants me to pledge we will be firm, set limits. The daycare teacher gently reminds me to consider something she refers to as my daughter's "social-emotional." My mom not-so-gently asks who is "the boss" in my house. NPR reports a study where scientists have analyzed the sound patterns of tantrums to determine the balance of anger and sadness.

I take this all in, nodding respectfully (except to my mother, who I snap at), pretty sure we've got it under control. After all, this morning my extremely reasonable two-year-old reached for my coffee cup and then stopped to grin at me. "Coffee is for grown-ups?" she asked me. "That's right," I confirmed, and that was it. Battle averted.

That was this morning.

This evening, the tears started. The faulty logic, the willfulness. Maybe she was tired. Maybe she was hungry. Maybe I should contact that scientist from NPR.

These are not just any tears. We are talking about crocodile tears. Big juicy tears, hiccups, sobs, a depth of sadness I could not have fathomed. And what were these terrible occurrences, conflicts that broke my poor little girl's heart, one after another? I will document them here:

  1. No Bath.
  2. I want the bathmat to go in the hall.
  3. I want the bathmat to go back to Costco.
  4. I want to leave my dress on in the bath.
  5. I don't want to get out of the bath.
  6. I don't want momma to bring my bear or my book upstairs.
  7. Dadda has to bring my bear downstairs and leave it there so I can come down all by myself and get it. Dadda has to go back upstairs and stay with Momma so I can go downstairs and get my bear. Momma has to bring the book back downstairs and leave it there. Dadda has to go back downstairs to get the book so we can read it.
  8. I want to wipe my tears. No Dadda, don't wipe them! I want my tears back on my cheek so I can wipe them.

Much of the time my child is extremely reasonable. Much of the time she is utterly delightful. And the rest of the time she is two years old.