It's hard to believe the books and online resources that state so plainly that tantrums are a normal part of any toddler's behaviour. Really? The screaming, floor pounding, kicking, back arching, teary explosion is normal?
I never imagined I would the parent with that child, the one you'd see out with his parents, screaming for who knows what, seemingly with his parents wrapped around his little finger. My first thought would be 'what a spoilt child' and then the second would be, 'why can't they do something about it?' but now it's different. Now it's my child, who is actually a very sweet, kind boy and brother who likes to share, give and interact with others. It's his turn to be that kid, the one that everyone stares at and then looks at you pityingly (or with disbelief) when he's flinging himself and his ear-splitting shriek around a shopping centre. It's true chalk and cheese. One moment he's happy, toddling around, making fun out of whatever he can find (anything except his actual toys), and the next he's behaving as though the world has come to an end.
What sets him off? It's anybody's guess. One day it might be having to put a shirt on. The next day it might be because I can't read him the same story for the eighth time because his little brother needs to be fed (and it is actually now not possible to read and breastfeed thanks to Max's curiosity and distraction). Or it might be because he isn't allowed to play with the contents of the fridge and it is almost always because we have to go back inside the house after being outside. Every day I wonder what might set him off because some days, even having his nappy changed doesn't phase him and yet others...
It has been better since Ollie's language has improved. He knows that saying 'peesh' (please) will get him most of what he wants, unless it is really very unreasonable and I'm pretty sure he also knows that whinging generally won't get him anywhere. So, he often points to what he wants and says 'mama' (how I love that) or 'daddy'. But the days when he doesn't want to eat, or when he's feeling a little under the weather, or when he is tired and easily frustrated, those days try us all. (Admittedly there aren't many days when hunger/illness/fatigue isn't a problem, but we do have very good days too.)
And so it continues. I hope the books are right. Not because it will save my sanity, but because it really can't be that much fun for Ollie when he's having one of his moments. And to all the young, childless people in the shopping centre who are enjoying a leisurely afternoon of shopping for non-essentials followed by a movie, drinks and dinner somewhere fashionable, he's not spoilt and we can't really do much about his tantrums. But he's ours, and I'd trade dinner and drinks for an evening with him any day.