Today I entered into a battle of the tempers and wills with my toddler. Toddlers are like prima donnas. They are alcoholic celebrities. Think Lindsay Lohan! They have no control over their emotions which is fine but it is a little wearing on one’s soul. Especially when toddler starts screaming like an over-tired banshee.
It started when he got up early from his nap. My heart sank when I heard cute little singing and talking coming from his room. To an amateur this might seem nice. You might think “How cute! What a sweet child! He certainly is happy!” But when you enter this room and the toddler says “No, no, no,” when he sees you and lays back down, the jig is up. At this point you can’t leave the room without him because he will freak out. He will also freak out if you pick him up. He will realize when you’ve reached the bottom step that there was a possibility that he’d left a pacifier in his bed! He is holding three already but that fourth could really have changed his life. Meanwhile, the baby is screaming because you walked out of the room and are thus gone forever. Got everyone calmed down. Calm before the storm. The storm is about to hit and it is a doozy. It is my very own little hurricane Katrina. Munchkin sized tornado! The power might go out. There’d better be emergency food. Hopefully you have a car charger for your cell phone. And finally you will need Twitter because it will save your life in an emergency and millions of people all over the world will follow your tragedy and feel great empathy and you will need it.
I had this brilliant plan, see. I thought “Oh! It has been a great day! I’m a powerful woman and an awesome mom and I managed to clean the entire living room and sweep all without having coffee because we are out! I nursed 17 times and still swept the hallway. I cleaned all the dirt out of the broom! I even considered cleaning the bathroom! I decided to put the baby in the stroller and stroll her around the house. I wore my baby so much yesterday that my back is killing me (I’m the kind of mom that is all about suffering for my children). I brought the stroller in and found out that the tires were covered in dirt and leaving dirt trails all over the living room floor that I had only five minutes previously so lovingly swept. Cue irritation.
Dig out the umbrella stroller. Perhaps the baby will enjoy it! I thought foolishly. As soon as toddler saw the stroller he freaked out to be put in it. He wanted to go for a walk. I explained to him that we were not going for a walk but that he was welcome to sit in the stroller. Feeling very positive still. Sits in stroller happily for 22 seconds. Is dissatisfied with remaining motionless in the stroller that is meant for strolling. Toddler starts shrieking.
I calmly explain again that we won’t be able to talk a walk because it is cold and wet and mommy’s back hurts. Shrieking continues in five second intervals. Baby needs to nurse. Toddler shrieks entirely through ten minute nursing session. Baby is too distracted to nurse due to shrieking. Toddler starts shouting “down.” I put the sad, teething baby down on a quilt to play in the floor. My idea not hers. Now there are two people whining and shrieking. Because I am an idiot, I assumed down meant that he wanted to get out of the stroller. Wrong. I may never know what “down” meant in that case. Truly. I may never know. Every time I tried to remove toddler from the stroller, he screamed louder. I was convinced the entire neighborhood could hear this so I hiss “what do you want?” in scream whisper which you might be familiar with. Most moms scream whisper. I never did it before I was a mom but I have been on the receiving end of scream whispers many, many times. Toddler continues to squirm and shriek down. At some point, this turned into a full on tantrum. This dance went on for 30 minutes. I probably could have distracted him by pushing him around the house but I had already let my will take over and I was fully committed to going head-to-head with toddler.
Finally, I know what I must do. I take him out of the stroller and put it up. I’m not gonna lie, I partially wanted to exert my power over him so we would all know who was boss. Oh we’d know who was boss before this was over and it wouldn’t be me. I tell him the stroller had to go bye bye and that I was always here for him and would hold him and listen to his loud expression of feelings as long as he needed to loudly express them. He cried for a good bit. I was considering getting the stroller back out when, in very bi-polar fashion, he was suddenly fine and showing off his counting skills: two, free, oar, bife, eight, two. Then we sang a little “get happy” as sung by Judy Garland. We decide that the sun has come out and maybe we should go out and play.
Fight over changing poopie diaper, adding coat, hat, and shoes. Remain calm and keep explaining that without a coat, we won’t be going outside while trying to put him in a sleeper hold so I can get his damn sweater and shoes on him. Patience waning. Baby wakes up because of screaming toddler. She has not slept all day, wants to nurse and go back to sleep in the rocking chair. That is what I want too.
Convince toddler to go outside. Make a baby gate with chairs on the porch. Explain about ten times that I am going to be sitting right by the door nursing the baby and that I will come out as soon as baby is done eating. Go in house. Toddler waits until I am nursing to notice I am gone and starts shrieking like the big, bad wolf is after him even though he can still see me. He keeps screaming. I run to the door while nursing, lest the neighbors call the cops and he won’t come inside. Finally, drag him inside literally kicking and screaming while I continued to nurse an 19 lb. baby. Things are going great!
Slam the door so neighbors can’t hear the epic meltdown that followed. Somehow baby was so tired she went to sleep anyway. Try to reason with toddler. He is beyond reason. Am starting to feel completely unhinged. Stomp feet at toddler. Scream whisper. He is screaming like I left him on the side of the road by a stop sign. Cannot convince him to stop screaming long enough to go outside. Lose patience. Go to kitchen and throw the dust pan at the wall. Luckily it doesn’t leave a mark. As suddenly as it began, an hour and 40 minutes ago, toddler stops screaming and starts playing.
I can hear him playing with cars and saying all the words he knows. “Mommy, Oh daddy! Pa! Grandma! Car! McQueen! Kachow! Tigger, pooh, Kenny (that’s piglet), Ni da Pooh, Au-ee (auntie), etc. I hid in the kitchen.
Baby wakes up, starts screaming.
When husband came home, I was curled up in a ball on the couch and I burst into tears when he said “Hey Mama, what’s wrong?”
Do not negotiate with toddlers. They are very similar to terrorists only there are loads more of them and they are not nearly as rational and reasonable as terrorists. Next time, I think I will just push the stroller around the house for 45 minutes.