The "terrible twos" have been flirting with the idea of making an appearance for a little while now. She's been getting progressively more touchy about things, more insistent about the things she wants, less willing to share or take turns, and demonstratively disappointed when things don't go her way. It's the nature of toddlerhood, I realize. However, knowing it's coming - and knowing it's perfectly normal - doesn't really make it any more pleasant.
Yesterday morning we packed a lunch and metroed into the city to check out the Textile Museum. It was a brisk day, with rain clouds threatening to make things more interesting for us. We were somewhat prepared for the weather (sweaters plus rain coats, but no gloves or hats, which would have been nice), and it was at least toasty warm the whole way in on the train.
We located the Textile Museum, which is kind of on the edge of Embassy Row, so we got to see a few embassies and neat flags on our way. Once inside the (not especially stroller-friendly) building, we'd spent maybe five minutes looking at the first exhibit when I noticed that El had removed one shoe and sock. DC has a somewhat inane rule/law/ordinance/whatever about requiring shoes in all public buildings, even on little kids. And there was a guard right in the corner of the room, getting ready to come over and give me a talking-to about the lass's newly naked foot. So I tried calmly explaining to Eleri that she had to have her sock and shoe back on, which led to her kicking and flailing in the stroller, escalating to a 10 or 15 minute long meltdown. During which I wrestled her sock and shoe back on, wheeled her out into a corner by the staircase, started trying to remove her sweater (because at this point she'd worked herself up so much she was getting overwarm), which pissed her off anew, tried to abandon sweater removal, to which she also objected, hauled her upstairs to the kid-friendly "learning zone," and tried distracting her with all the things to touch and play with. All the while I also tried all the "magical tantrum-halting" tricks (validating her feelings, asking her to calm down and use her words, yada yada), none of which seemed to do much of anything. Eventually she managed to calm down, and actually seemed to enjoy herself for a short while, scribbling on graph paper, arranging magnets, feeling different textiles and generally tooling around the big open room.
There was actually not a lot to the museum. Two or three rooms of displays, plus the "learning zone" room. There were some interesting things to see (neat woven art of Central Africa, some very detailed embroidery) but I guess I just expected there to be a bit more to the place. Oh well. At least we were through it fairly quickly, and then we headed across the street to a park for lunch. It was not exactly picnic weather, but we hunkered down and chowed our food, and then the kids played at a playground for a little while. There was a group of kids there (they were old enough that they should have been in school, so I'm guessing it was some sort of homeschool group), and none of them wanted to play with Soren. Poor guy. He kept asking me where the other 3 year-olds were. ("I need 3 year-olds!") He eventually deigned to play with Eleri, and soon we were on our way again, endeavoring to get out of the cold for a bit.
We took refuge in a Starbucks just as it was starting to rain. We got the weasels a kids' hot chocolate (so, not too hot) to share, and they were not nearly as impressed by it as I expected. Eleri seemed to like it all right, but Soren kept making faces after each sip. (Yes, I tried it, and it was definitely not overly warm.) Oh well. The cold and rain scared us off from doing any further adventuring through the city, so we got back on the train and headed homeward. We did some grocery shopping, and it was really only mid-afternoon by the time we got back to the apartment.
Almost immediately upon arrival, Eleri had another sobbing meltdown (I think this one was provoked by having to take off her shoes and/or coat), and it again took a loooooong time to calm her. Soren, thankfully, was able to help Jenny in the kitchen with dinner prep, and by all reports was incredibly well-behaved and helpful. So huzzah, little lad. Eleri, meanwhile, continued to cry the cries of one with a broken heart, while I snuggled her on my lap. I'm not sure what else to do. I obviously don't want to encourage the tantrums, but it feels callous to just ignore her until she decides to calm down. I don't think quiet hugs are a bridge too far, in this case.
There was at least one more meltdown before bedtime, and another at bedtime. She ended up getting so worked up she needed to be rocked to sleep. (And again today for a nap, and rocked to calm tonight at for bed, though I was able to set her down awake this time at least.) I feel for her - it's tough to discover that life's unfair - but holy crap is the drama tiresome.
Anyway. Since I'm not willing or able to just give her whatever she wants at all times, there will undoubtedly be more meltdowns in the coming days and weeks. I hope not months. We'll get through it, of course. Not much choice.