Amber and Max

16 Reasons My Toddler Cried

Last week we took Max to a playpark – because that’s basically all we do now – and I got chatting to the grandmother of a little girl there.

“What age is your little boy?” the woman asked me.

“Two and a half,” I answered, watching Max barrel up to another child and inform her that the playpark was “haunted”.

“Ah. So’s she,” said the woman, nodding towards her granddaughter. And then we both just stopped what we were doing and gave each other A Look, and the look was the one that says, “Ah, yes, you too know what is it to spend your life negotiating with a tiny, irrational dictator, never knowing whether today is the day he’ll want to wear all his clothes simultaneously, or the day he’ll refuse to wear clothes AT ALL. Because either one of those situations could come to pass: maybe even both simultaneously, in fact.”

So, yes, it turns out that toddlers are the least rational beings on the planet. Seriously, some mornings I think I’m just deciding what to make for breakfast, but I’m actually playing a very dangerous game of “Will This Be Acceptable?” because, at 2.5, Max’s entire life can be ruined by the wrong choice of cereal, or the quite frankly insulting assumption that he’ll want butter on his toast, even though he always has butter on his toast, and giving him toast without butter will make him cry. (Which, I mean, it would, though, wouldn’t it?)

Here are some other things that have made my toddler cry lately…

summer walk


I was wearing a top with puffy sleeves. He doesn’t approve of puffy sleeves, apparently: there was “too much stuff”. Yes.


He wanted to wear his favourite stripey jumper for something like the eighth day in a row*, but it was in the wash, and also, A JUMPER. Which he has wanted to wear on every single hot day we’ve had this summer.


I addressed him as “Max”, but he was pretending to be Lucy, the girl from Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom at the time.


Terry addressed him as “Prince” (a pet name he sometimes uses.) But Max is NOT, in fact, a “prince”! He is MAX. Except when he’s Lucy, the little girl from Ben & Holly, obviously…


He was tired, but also absolutely outraged by the suggestion that sleep might be a good cure for that


I was wearing a necklace. That’s it: it was literally just that I was wearing a necklace.


I took a bite out of my toast. It was my toast, and Max had already rejected my offer to share it, but, as soon as I took that fateful first bite, he was inconsolable, and demanded that I replace the missing bite immediately.


I refused to allow him to “pull his feet off” to see what would happen.


He wanted to watch Peppa Pig on my phone, but I put it on “the big TV” instead.


I was wearing a green dress, which I thought looked quite nice, until I went into Max’s room to get him up from his nap, and he immediately informed me the dress was “yucky” and that I should change it immediately. So that was a good morale boost, for sure.


His ice lolly was cold.


We bought a new rug for the living room. It was literally the worst thing that’s ever happened to him.


He couldn’t get into Masie’s Bus. Because it’s a freaking BOOK.


I spent ages putting the windows on his LEGO house correctly, but it turned out he wanted them put on “wrongly” instead.


I said I’d put some music on in the car, but my phone wouldn’t connect to the speakers, so he spent the entire journey shouting, “I WANT TAYLOR SWIFT!” When we got home, I put one of her videos on You Tube, only to be told it was “too boring.


He found out that our house is not, in fact, haunted, so now there’s just no point in even living in it, tbh.

UK parenting blogFinally, the grand finale: the morning I asked Terry to give me a quick lockdown hair trim (Don’t worry, it worked out fine: this isn’t one of THOSE posts…), and Max reacted as if Terry was literally trying to murder me. I ended up having my hair cut while standing up, with Max dangling from my neck, screaming at top volume, and occasionally trying to grab the scissors. It took a good ten minutes to calm him down after this event, and even now, we have to be very careful not to mention the words “mummy’s hair,” or “trim” in from of him, in case it triggers another tantrum.

(In fact, just last night I was reading him a book in which a rabbit was crying (Side note: why do almost all children’s books take place in an alternative universe, in which animals can speak and own houses, and live exactly like humans, basically, but also sometimes keep pets? Like, how does that work? Who decides which animals are human-like, and which are just “regular” animals? And WHERE ARE ALL THE HUMANS?), and Max asked me why. I made up some nonsense about the bunny being hungry but having no food (Look, it was late, OK?), to which Max replied, “No, I think he’s crying because someone cut his mummy’s hair…” It was, like, TWO MONTHS AGO now that Terry cut my hair, and it hasn’t been mentioned since, so now I’m obviously worried that he’s been scarred for life by an event so innocuous that it didn’t even scar ME, and that’s saying something, given how traumatic I generally find haircuts…)

The good news, however, is that, when he’s NOT having a tantrum over whether his jumper is stripey enough or not (Which, to be fair, is most of the time…) Max at 2 and a half is an absolute delight. Like, this afternoon I went to get him up after his nap, and he immediately launched into this long, excited story about how he had to switch the barbecue on to make toast for a bear, but the bear set the house on fire, and how could he make toast if the house was on fire? Which, OK, is a bit weird when you write it down like that, but the excitement with which he relayed this story was so sweet that it definitely made it much easier to forgive the ensuing tantrum when it emerged that he wanted to go outside in his bare feet. Oh well, you win some, you lose some, I guess.

So, tell me: why did YOUR toddler cry this week?

P.S. I write a weekly diary which goes out every Friday to my subscribers. Sign up below to get on the list...

books by Amber Eve
  • Tanya


    I peeled her banana slightly more than she wanted me to…

    August 19, 2020
  • Emerald


    Not my child, but my darling little brother when he was three. When I called him a “silly sausage” (as my mum used to call me!) he went ballistic. “NO, *you’re* a silly sausage!” Well… wouldn’t argue with that!

    By the way, when I was around Max’s age, maybe a bit older, my mum foolishly took me shopping into Edinburgh. Where I lay down on the floor in a tantrum in Jenners when she was looking at clothes. She still likes to remind me of it!

    August 19, 2020
  • Alice


    My daughter cries if the characters in her books don’t have mummies!

    August 19, 2020
  • Francesca


    Number 8 ????????????

    My little girl was recently very annoyed that I wouldn’t “blow out the sun” when it was too bright.

    August 19, 2020
  • Myra


    This whole post made me laugh out loud. I can’t believe you have him a cold ice lolly ????

    August 19, 2020
  • Helen


    My 2 year old asked me to put “Sam” on TV. Nice, easy. I search and play his favourite Fireman Sam show to be met by full blown end-of-the-world hysterics and this accusing look in his eye that said “you don’t know me at ALL”.

    August 19, 2020
  • Fiona


    Brodie has just started nursery this week so things are a bit more fraught than usual.
    He’s coming home at 11.30 totally exhausted from 3 hours of nursery. Yesterday he cried because he couldn’t take his own shoes off (he didn’t try), I asked him to wash his hands before snack (he loves washing his hands and is always asking to do it), and because I said “nap time.”
    “No nap! No snooze! No batteries! No robot! Big boy!” I foolishly suggested the nap would recharge his batteries as I thought that would help. It did not. He did go for a nap though and slept for two hours so at least I won that nonsensical argument.
    This morning I ended up getting out of bed early even though he was with his dad because he was screaming for me… why? He wanted juice. The juice was on the table four feet away. Daddy wouldn’t go and get the juice but wanted Brodie to get it himself.
    We then repeated this with the vest he wanted to put on.
    He still has no juice and no vest 15 minutes later.
    Bet he’s an angel at nursery again and a screaming devil when he gets home again!

    August 20, 2020
  • Merry Pruitt


    My daughter cried because the toe seam of her socks would ride up about 1/4″ when she slid her feet into her shoes. After a few mornings of this, we (I) banished socks from the dresser for about a year, until she could deal with this.

    August 21, 2020
  • Saff


    Because he couldn’t get onto the Duplo slide.

    August 21, 2020
  • Tanya Dreams


    OH MY GOSH… I am laughing with mad screaming laughter over here! I think you have just described 2 days in my house during lockdown with my 3 year old daughter. I actually can’t get enough of this article… wait let me read it again… Even funnier 2nd time round hahaha

    It’s good to know although we are all so different, children’s experiences are practically the same.

    My bambino cried because I wouldn’t stop the sun from shining or I wouldn’t take off my hair and give it to her (I don’t wear wigs, so other than chopping my hair off and giving it her, that wasn’t going to happen)

    ahhh kids…

    August 24, 2020
  • dublinerInDeutschland


    I helped my 2.5 year old zip up her pjs because she was having trouble with it but that was absolutely the wrong thing to do apparently because she wanted to do it herself.

    August 26, 2020
  • Charlotte Williams


    Autumn-Rose has just gone 1. She cries because her shoes are on, then cries when I take them off, then cries when I put them back on *infinite loop* She doesnt talk yet which is annoying as I mostly have to guess why she is crying.

    September 23, 2020