My toddler was the best baby. He started sleeping 6-8 hour stretches at around 4 weeks old. He hardly ever fussed. I took him everywhere and he adapted to everything and was always happy to be out and see new faces and things. He was always the only happy baby at every mommy lunch we attended. I hardly ever needed to take him out of the carseat or stroller to hold or console him. He barely fussed on long road trips. You get the picture.
I’ve already written here about the wild transition we had into the toddler bed and out of napping.
That’s sort of settled down. He almost never naps at all now, but still goes upstairs for naptime.I guess I could write about this in more detail one of these days, but I put together a few “quiet boxes” of things like puzzles and books and Mega Bloks and he looks forward to Quiet Box time and will stay up there for a full naptime. Most of the time. So, that’s good.
But lately, every other waking hour of the day he is trying to slowly kill me.
He’s been challenging me, fighting me on EVERYYYYTHIIINNNG. And it makes me furious, because we have routines. I am a creature of habit and I like our routine. I feel like I’ve been trying to do everything right and yet it somehow must all be wrong, because he is driving me insane.
I google for advice with this stuff. I look at all the Baby Center forums, all the random pages. I worship “Toddler 411.”
They say: toddlers like to know what to expect, so have routines. They need structure, so warn them when you’re about the leave the playground. Give them a count down. So they know what to expect.
You’d think he’d know by now that when it’s bedtime we change from our outfit into some fucking pajamas. But, nope. Not last night. Last night it was a huge surprise. A terrible inconvenience, really. Despite telling him 57 times “It’s almost bedtime, buddy. Almost time to brush our teeth, change your diaper, put on jammies and go to bed!” the boy had a meltdown. Over putting on pajamas.
They say: toddlers want autonomy so try to give them choices.
I say: “you can wear your truck jammies or your blue stripes.” He grabs both pairs out of my hands and throws them. I open the drawer and tell him: “Fine. Chose some jammies. Go ahead.” He throws himself on the ground and screams “NOOOOO JAMMIES! WANT STRIPE SHIRT!” (the non-pajama shirt he’d been wearing).
Then, this morning. Nonstop. Asking for things we normally don’t do. For breakfast he usually has something starchy (waffle, oatmeal, toast) and fruit. Today he scarfed down his oatmeal, yelled “NO!” about the fruit and then demanded Cheerios and milk. My biggest rules about food are that he has to try things and that he can’t have the same thing all the time. So if he had oatmeal for breakfast, he can’t have it for lunch. If he had apple in the morning, he can have a different fruit. Not too complicated. But not this morning.
Then, there’s clothes. We’ve always changed into “comfy pants” (sweatpants or leggings) for naptime, and worn jeans or cords or chinos if we’re going to school or the park, but lately he’s obsessed with comfy pants. All day long. Want comfy pants. Want different comfy pants. Take off comfy pants. Put on comfy pants.
We had plans to go to a bounce house place this morning, so I thought he’d be excited to have a comfy pants day. Nope.
They say toddler might just be looking for extra love and attention. They say to get down on their level so you’re not talking down to them. So I get down on his level. I hold him. I kiss him. I tell him it’s ok, that I love him and he’s a sweet boy and it’s going to be ok, but we need to put on pants if we’re going out.
“NOOOOOOOOO WANT COMFY PANTS, WANT DIFFERENT PANTS, BLAH BLAH AHAHAHAHAHAHAHHHH!”
They say give clear consequences or try bribing. They say try distracting them in a fun way. (I’ve noticed his teacher does this a lot).
I tell him if he wants to go play bounce, he has to put on pants and shirt. We struggle some more. Somewhere in the middle of giving clear consequence warnings and playfully picking him up and tickling him up, I get the outfit on him and he doesn’t take the fucking pants off.
I get the baby changed and into the carseat and give him a paci. He’s due for a nap, which is pretty hard with all this insanity. I pee and put some fucking lipstick on and say “OK, let’s go to the front door and put your sneakers on”
Toddler comes to the front door wearing a man’s baseball cap from his dress-up box and immediately grabs his boots instead of his sneakers. I try to let the boots slide, but I want to keep dress-up clothes at home and suggest he wear his own little baseball cap. Another fight.
Then he wants his coat. It’s in the 60’s today and he won’t need it. Another fight. I let him wear the fucking coat.
Then I turn the alarm on and gather everything and open the door and he refuses to move and laughs at me.
I mean, really? My head is roaring: “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME WITH THIS SHIT?” (My inner monologue for boy formerly known as the Best Baby Ever is now “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME WITH THIS SHIT?”)
I warn him. I say if you want to go play bounce, we have to leave now… Crickets.
He’s lying on the floor. I say if you want to go to naptime, we can do that now.
“NO DO NAPPYTIME!”
The alarm goes off because the door has been sitting open. I reset it and pick the boy up like a football, carry his 29 lbs upstairs and throw him in his room and slam the door shut.
Then I call my husband and yell for a little bit while toddler is upstairs screaming and banging on everything.
We’re running late. He’s a little over 2 1/2 years old. I’m 37 going on 107. If he continues freaking out, do we stay at home? Will he understand that consequence in a way that will help him learn to deal with his emotions and impulses? (I yell all this at my husband on the phone.)
After listening to the boy scream “Mommy! Mommy Mommy!” for a few minutes, I decide to check on him and if he shows some contrition, we will go. Also, we have plans to meet a new friend at the bounce place and I don’t like being the asshole who cancels at the last minute. And I don’t want to be in my house anymore.
I go upstairs and ask if he’s ready to behave. He’s a mess, sobbing, snot everywhere. He holds his arms up and sobs “Mommy carry you? Go downstairs?”
We go to the fucking bounce place and it’s ok. Now naptime is almost over (despite climbing and running and bouncing and going down slides like a maniac for almost 2 hours, the boy is of course WIDE AWAKE upstairs). And I feel like I’ve been beaten with sticks.
I need a break. I need help. I need for this nonsense to stop. When is my son going to stop acting like such an asshole?