The Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

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.

 

Choose Your Battles

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It was an early morning and the often dreaded get-ready- for-school routine was upon us. Neither of us excel in the “morning person” area, so my son and I both struggle with the unreasonable demands of waking up and getting dressed at a certain time.

This morning was different, though. We had both gone to bed very early the night before, were well rested, and had spent the first part of the morning talking, laughing, and reading stories. It was going to be a good day. Obviously, having that thought was my first mistake.

As soon as we reached the bottom of the stairs, my son began the first battle with an outcry of “I want to be naked!”

“I know, you really like to be naked,” I replied, “but right now we have to get dressed and go to school.”

Reluctantly, my naked toddler sauntered over to me and offered his foot for the putting on of underwear. First battle: Mommy.

“I want this shirt!” he said, presenting a gray and black striped shirt. “And these pants!” he declared, choosing a slightly wrinkled pair of khakis from the laundry pile on the couch.

I am not a huge stickler for fashion, since I have been known to show up at preschool drop off and pick up with no bra, sweat pants, and a ponytail, but when I actually get dressed I do like fashion. And I definitely like for my son’s clothes to match.

“I’m not sure that those pants match that shirt. What about jeans with that shirt? Or you could wear this blue shirt with those pants? Oh look I even have the blue socks to match this blue shirt!” (Yes, he has socks that match certain shirts. I like a well dressed toddler.)

He met my attempts with a defiant “NO!” complete with a dismissive swipe of the jeans and blue shirt, and instead opting for the mismatched attire of khaki pants and gray and black striped shirt. He did like the blue socks, so now he looked like a complete mismatch of items. Battle goes to: the toddler.

Pick your battles, I told myself. And although I sometimes like to tell me inner voice where she can go, this time I listened.

“Alright! Now let’s brush our hair!” The brushing of the teeth earlier had gone flawlessly. He was dressed. We had even put on shoes without a fight. But the brushing of the hair was deemed an unreasonable request.

“No, I like my hair to look crazy.”

It’s hard to reason the importance of looking presentable with a person who is 1) three years old and 2) ok with looking crazy.

“Mommy will do it very quickly and then we can eat breakfast! Would you like Trix or Lucky Charms?” We serve a gourmet breakfast around here.

“Trix!” That did the trick (pun intended), and my son was soon blissfully eating breakfast with combed hair.

Until he decided that he would like to watch a TV show.

“We don’t watch TV in the mornings. You can watch a show this afternoon.”

“But I want to watch a show right now! I am not going to eat my breakfast if there’s not a kid show on.”

“Then you will be very hungry. We never watch TV in the mornings because the mornings are time for getting ready for school. You have a few more minutes to eat breakfast and then we need to leave.”

This caused an eruption of behavior. He stomped around, yelled “no” repeatedly, and began to throw his toys. He repeated his ultimatum about not eating breakfast unless he could watch TV and ended it with, “That’s the deal!” After politely asking him not to throw toys and telling him that Mommy said no, we are not watching TV right now, I then had to give him a warning that if he didn’t stop, he would be going to time out.

Finally realizing that his tantrum was not working, he gave in and soon starting quietly eating cereal in the dining room while I worked on folding laundry. Battle winner: Mommy. He even carried his bowl to the sink without my asking.

And then, right as we were on our way out the door, he looked at me and asked, “Mommy, what are you doing in the grand scheme of things?”

What a vocabulary! What a question! Oh the shock, the puzzlement, the philosophical pondering!

You win this round, toddler. You win.

 

Being a Boy Mom

Being a boy mom is…weird.

Never in my life have I discussed penises more than I do as the mother of a boy.

Before having a boy, I never had to make myself highly interested in bugs. Or slime. Or bodily functions.

Before having a boy, I never had the life experience of cleaning up poop from toilets, floors, and walls. And the top of the toilet. And the carpet. And almost any other possible surface.

Before having a boy, I never realized just how active boys really are. I hear people say it all the time, but I think they really are wired differently than girls. Little boy brains just think differently.

So, naturally, when surprising moments of being a boy mom happen, I Tweet about it:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being a boy mom surprises and challenges me.

And it is absolutely perfect.

Sleepless in Seattle

We don’t really live in Seattle, we live in Richmond, VA, but I love alliteration so I just went with it.

Location withholding, we really are having sleep trouble. And by “we” I mean the toddler and I. The hubs pretty much sleeps whenever he’s not at work.

Of all the parenting things; feeding, potty-training, motor skills, social skills, etc., sleeping has always been the biggest challenge.

It might be because I did attachment parenting, so my son has always co-slept with us. It might be because I breastfed until he was two years old, so he nursed throughout the night for so long that night waking is normal to him. It might be because he is a very sweaty sleeper. Or it might just be that sleeping is not his thing.

I once read somewhere that young children should get an average of 12 to 14 hours of sleep within a 24 hour period. And I have actually known people who say their child has done/does this. But whenever God was handing out babies, he gave me the non-sleeping version.

Which is fine, really. Because not sleeping is a parenting challenge I can handle. Or at least I used to, when my son still took naps.

The naps are gone, you guys. And it is draining me.

I took a daily nap with my son for the first two and a half years of his life. I needed it in order to be a good mother to him. And he needed them in order to function. It worked for us. I always cherished that mid-afternoon slumber. And then, just like that, he dropped them.

Nap time has been gone at my house since May. This entire summer has consisted of long days. Very, very, long days.

There are some days when we both just can not take it anymore and we relinquish ourselves to a nap. But the problem is, if he takes a nap, he is up until eleven or midnight. The other problem is, if he does not take a nap, he is absolutely miserable from 4pm to bedtime at 7pm. The dinner, bath, bed routine is started at 6, but those hours from 4 to 7 of a screaming, irrational toddler drain me every time.

Like other parenting obstacles I have faced I know that this will just be a phase. I know that nap time is over and that some day the hours of 4PM to 7PM will once again return to be just regular hours.

But while we wait this phase out, I would love to hear your toddler sleeping advice. Because the current trend? Makes me want to hire a bedtime sitter. (Is that a thing? That should be a thing.)

Thank you in advance for your help. I’ll just be over here drinking lots of caffeine until we figure this out.

Button Up My Buttons Babe

Due to a recent conversation with the toddler, I have a new theory. Hip hop song lyrics are derived from toddlers.

For a recent special treat, we decided to have milkshakes after dinner. Which is when I had my revelation.

First, the toddler pronounced, “My milkshake; this is yours.” Which I somehow pieced together as “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, and they’re like it’s better than yours…

Then, after inevitably spilling some of the milkshake on his shirt, the toddler said,  “I’m gonna take off all my clothes.” Which led this song to arrive in my mind, “It’s getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes.

After helping him put another shirt on,  the toddler said, “Now button up my buttons.” Which of course, made this song pop into my head, “Loosen up my buttons babe

Then, just to top off the night of inappropriate song lyrics inspired by a toddler, my son walked over to my husband sitting with his legs crossed on the floor, and said, “Daddy, open your legs.” Which may not be a song lyric, but seems to fit in the with the above list of inappropriate-ness.

So either hip hop artists really derived their song lyrics by hanging out with toddlers, or my head is still full of club songs from college. It’s a toss-up, really.