Over the last week the boys have hit an unfortunate developmental marker: they have both (in a regrettable example of twin-sympathy) simultaneously decided that temper tantrums are the best way to get what they want. A quivering lip, a widening of the eyes, and a deep intake of breath – these are all signals of the impending screams, and lead my partner and I to sigh and brace ourselves.
The reasons for these tantrums are many and varied: being refused unlimited toast, being unable to play with wires, scissors, full coffee cups or anything else put out of their reach, being forced (maliciously, of course) to go to bed. Clearly in their tiny and developing minds these are injustices that require extreme measures to rectify, namely extreme screaming.
My partner and I have resolved not to cave in: the boys will not learn that tantrums get them what they want. Instead, we intend to teach them that reasoned argument is the best way forward. The problem is that they are too young for reasoned argument at the moment (either by them or from us) so tantrums are apparently the communication method of choice. And I use ‘choice’ quite deliberately: I can see from the look in their eyes that they known exactly how annoying their screaming is. I am also pretty sure that I have been resoundingly sworn at in baby language.
But despite the noise I am determined to persevere. I consider it very important to teach the boys that while there are many ways to get what you want, throwing a tantrum is rarely one of them. You see, I would love the boys to be actively engaged in their society when they are older, to care about local and national issues. I also want them to be able to make a difference on these issues, rather than just a noise. I realise that others take a different view but I believe the way to make a difference in society is to defeat the opposing argument, not refuse to believe there is one. People who glue themselves to office blocks are just background noise.
So as they go through the temper tantrum stage for what I am sure is only the first time, I am resolved not to give in. My eardrums, and neighbours, might never forgive me. I can live with that, just so long as at some point in the future, when reasoned argument is possible, the boys understand why I did it. So that they can focus on shaping and changing the tiny and developing minds of their opponents, rather than just screaming at them.