I have been reluctant to tell you this story, because I like to think this is a sweet blog. Sure, there are times when I tell you about my son’s love of his boy parts and talk about the tough stuff in my life, but mostly this blog is about how sweet my son is. Because he is. Except when he isn’t.
Two Fridays ago (I know that was a lifetime ago, but I was in an opera, had family in town, am dealing with Parent Council stuff, and basically trying not to drown in laundry, so bare with me) my son and I had a terrible, no good, very bad day. The kind of day that resulted in my husband coming home from work to find me face down on our bed crying while the toddler was screaming and throwing the entire contents of his bedroom into the upstairs hallway. Why? I will start from the beginning.
I am in the middle of an agonizing (to me) pre-school decision and have been touring schools. On this particular day, my son and I had a pre-school tour. That actually went really well, though I was the only mother there who had not pre-arranged a babysitter, and instead dragged a 3 year old through the halls. Oops. I was then also the mom who stayed to talk to the other moms to see what they thought. Another oops with a restless toddler in tow.
After our pretty successful tour, my son and I went to a newly opened coffee shop across the street. We checked out the new place, ordered some drinks, and were getting ready to leave. At this point the toddler had apparently reached his limit, so he was being restless and bumping the small trash can by the check out with his legs. Not knocking it over, just scooting it. He wasn’t being an angel, but I didn’t think he was being terrible. I was waiting while the cashier tried to ring me up in the new computer system, and it was taking just a minute. The woman in line behind me picked up the trashcan. Kinda weird, but if that’s your thing, go for it. Finally we were making progress with the new computer to ring up my order and another one of the workers went over to the lady to assist with her weird trash can accessory. She pointedly looked at me and said, “Well her son was knocking it over and since SHE wasn’t doing anything about it I thought I’d hold it until they leave so you won’t have a mess on your hands.”
Um, what? And then, just to emphasize her point, my son did actually start knocking over some of the bagged coffee display. I promptly put them back and we left the store as quickly as possible. I am not a confrontational person, and I was mortified to tears on the way home. Was he really being that bad? Am I a terrible mother? I know he wasn’t being perfect but I really don’t think he was being so awful that it was cause for that woman to be rude and call me out in front of the entire coffee shop. When he actually knocked something over I picked it up, but you know what lady? Three year olds are wiggly. And sometimes they do stuff like scoot trash cans. And sometimes you should not do stuff like blatantly embarrass a young mom just trying to get some freakin coffee.
I didn’t know if I should be mad at myself, the lady, or my son, so I was just mad at everyone. I fixed my son lunch which he then refused to eat and at some point in our brief moment at home he spilled his milk all over the dining room floor and used my dry clean only blue pea coat to hide it. Not even clean it, just cover it. No lunch, a quickly disintegrating day and one time out later, and unfortunately we had to rush back out the door because we had a speech appointment. It was the day that never ended, he was tired, and my mood was already shot. And that night was the opening night of my opera.
We made it to speech somewhat unscathed, and I sat in the hallway while my son worked on articulating sounds. The speech teacher came out to talk to me and then my son lost his marbles. First, you must know about the squishy bugs. At the speech place there are these squishy bugs. Just some pretend bugs made of of plastic that can stretch and are squishy. My son discovered them at his first speech session and liked them, but we convinced him to put them away. This day when he re-discovered them, he wanted to take them home. After as many patient “Please put them backs” as I could muster and a few from his speech teacher, I calmly told my son, “It is time to leave now. I will ask you nicely one more time to put them away or Mommy will have to take them from you.” I was met with a screaming “NO” and my son ran across the hall to the other classroom and got under the table. There was another child waiting for speech and we really did have to go. Ten minutes of arguing over squishy bugs was about nine minutes too long. I frustratingly dragged my child out from under the table, had to forcefully remove the squishy bugs from his hand, and haul him out of the speech place under my arm while also lugging his jacket, bag, my purse, and his speech homework. To further express his frustration, my son decided to yell “DAMN IT” repeatedly at the top of his lungs while flailing his arms and legs about.
Man handling a flailing, red faced, screaming toddler who has the words “DAMN IT” coming out of his mouth like a broken record while you navigate yourself out of a populated office building is just as fun as you would imagine it would be. Except worse.
After both of us fuming on the way home and ignoring each other, we finally reached the driveway. Where my son promptly fell asleep. Not one to mess with a good thing, I sat in the car and played on my phone until he woke up. Maybe this would be the starting over point.
When he did wake up, he immediately starting yelling and fussing. Start over we did not.
I tried to be sweet and patient again so we could get out of the car and go inside. He did not want me to carry him. He did not want to walk. He did not want to get out of the car. He did not want to stay in the car. He did not want to be mistaken in any way, shape, or form as a sane person.
I was at the very end of my rope and after a few attempts at nice I just lost my patience. I was not going to argue with a toddler about getting out of the car and walking the 10 steps it takes to get into our house. I put that in the ridiculous category, and after he yelled at the top his lungs “NO” at my last request for him to come out of the car, I said “fine” and shut the door and left him there. I walked inside, put down all of our bags and recomposed myself to go outside where my son was pounding on the windows as though he had been locked in prison. We finally managed to come inside and went straight upstairs where I told my out of control toddler that he needed to go to his room until he could adjust his attitude.
That was met with much more yelling, screaming, and now the added bonus of throwing toys. I just couldn’t handle any more. I was so tired of being yelled at and exhausted and embarrassed. I went into my room and closed the door, laid face down on the bed and starting crying. The toddler decided that in order to get my attention he would throw all of his toys out into the hallway, and then started on his furniture. I knew what was happening, but I was torn between addressing the situation and encountering more fighting, or ignoring his behavior because I did not want to reward his ridiculousness with my attention. I choose the later and by the time my husband got home from work my son had pulled all of his toys, including toy containers, his ottoman, and his oscillating fan into the hallway and was still screaming at the top of his lungs.
Thank goodness my husband came home to diffuse the situation. He dealt with the toddler first and then came to me, where I explosively explained every detail of our entire day to him. What a thing to come home to, huh? Apparently my opening line was, “Your son is an asshole” and though I’m not really a cuss-er (aside from the occasional use of the word damn it which my son has obviously picked up) and don’t remember saying that, this was a memorable moment for my husband.
The husband saved the day, made the toddler clean up the hallway, apologize to me, and stop screaming. He let me rest for an hour before I had to leave for my opera and even straightened up the living room a little. This is our new romance.
That night my husband and son came and watched my opera and my three year old sat through an entire performance and even came backstage with me after it was over. We’ve even had some pretty amazing days together in the past two weeks.
But that terrible, no good, very bad day? Was just that. I’m telling you, if living with a teenager is as hard as living with a three year old, I’m not sure I will survive it.