This weekend was a rough one at Chez Cordano-Leonard. Seems like a good time to post the “Being a Toddler Sucks” thing I started on March 27th of this year and never finished. Four months later we are struggling with the same shit.
Last Friday T, C, and I hosted the playgroup we are part of at our house.
(Can I start with another tangent? I resisted playgroups for a long time. I didn’t want to make friends based solely on the fact that the people were parents because I didn’t want my identity to be that tied to being a mom. And then I grew the hell up and realized that I didn’t have to be best friends with every mom I meet, and that when you make friends there is usually a commonality so who gives a fuck if that commonality is parenthood? I know many wonderful people who don’t have kids and who also managed to grow up, but clearly I was unable to be one of them. Mothering has been a kick in the pants for me, I’m still a self absorbed jerk, but I’m less of one now that I have kids. Kind of shameful, but at least the growing up is happening, you know, in my mid 30s. So yes, I love the playgroup.)
One of the moms has a son who just turned one. She heard me “counting” at T as a disciplinary technique and she asked when I started that. We had a conversation about it and she noted that it really has worked for T and that he does a great job listening. I said something like, “Well, he has a really long way to go.”
A few minutes later I realized how incredibly unfair that was to him, so I found my way back to her and thanked her for complimenting his behavior and said I agreed that he was doing well. My expectations for him are high. And my reaction was colored by a really rough week. T’s teacher told me that kids often experience a major backslide in behavior when a sibling gets very sick, so he’s coming by his behavior honestly. But his father and I have been ready to wring his adorable little neck.
There is a lot going on in T’s world right now that is awesome. He is lucky enough to go to an amazing preschool, he has a father who absolutely revels in spending time with him, his grandparents who he adores are here for a visit, and now that his brother and he go down for naps around the same time and there is only one of me he gets to watch a video in the early afternoon while I nurse C to sleep upstairs. Life is damn good for this kid. At least that is what I’m constantly telling myself. I also tell myself that I would love to trade places with him. I’d love to spend all day playing, to have everyone else cater to my sleep schedule, to have all my meals prepared, to get snacks whenever the hell I want them, to have someone there to kiss my boo-boos when I fall down, to nap every day.
But the truth is being a toddler sucks. He is desperately trying to figure out his place in this world and our family. He wants to know what he can get away with, it is his job to push boundaries. Suddenly he is shouting “No!” in an incredibly disrespectful way at us and at our friends. A few months ago he started telling us he didn’t want stuff. Like his book before bed or his drink of water or even his dessert. And the second we say, “OK, no dessert.” He shouts, “I WANT DESSERT!” What he wants is to see how long he can get away with jerking us around or how long he can drag out the bedtime routine. We’ve been proactive. We’ve explained to him that if he says “No!” to something we’ll give him to the count of three to change his mind, but then we are going with what he said. He’s getting it, not all the time, but he is getting that we will not spend our entire day indulging his every whim.
The “Whys?” have started as well. “Why can’t I have a bath now?” “Why can’t I say ‘No!’ to you?” “Why can’t I have a chip?” Sometimes I completely fail. I tell him, “Because I said so!” But a lot of the time I answer the questions as well as I can. Sometimes he is stalling with the questions, but he is also actually trying to figure stuff out. It sucks for him that I get to say, “No!” all day long and he can’t say it back to me. It sucks that I’m in charge and he has to listen to me, even if I explain that it is my job to tell him “No!” so he can learn how to be a responsible and kind person.
Some days I feel bad for him, some days I wallow and feel bad for myself for being stuck with him, and some days I do manage to feel grateful. He is hilarious and cuddly and holy shit, the other day I was trying to nurse C before his nap while T was supposed to be watching a video downstairs. Suddenly I saw him wander by C’s bedroom door, naked from the waist down. The moment he came into my sightline a little nugget of poo fell from his bottom. That stuff is the comedy gold and it helps get me through the rough days.
**Update** The shedding has nothing to do with how I wash my hair. Sorry for any confusion.