Newsflash: Being a Parent is Hard
They’re so much fun when they’re not screaming in your face.
Unfortunately, we’ve been having a lot of in your face moments for the past few weeks. Evan’s favorite word is NO and he uses it every chance he gets. Even if he means “Yes please, that would be lovely Mother” he says NO.
Would you like some juice? NO JUICE! Would you like an apple? NO APPLE! Do you want to watch tv? NO TV! Do you want to go to the park and see our friends? NO FRIENDS! NO! NOOOOOO!!! *sobbing hysterics* *tears* *throws self on floor*
Evan, what’s wrong? JUICE! APPLE! TV! FRIENDS!! *sob sob sob sob*
Thank God for our new best friends, Nick Jr and Sprout and whatever other channel is planning something vaguely child appropriate that perhaps also includes a catchy song I will find myself singing later as I vacuum up pretzel crumbs (We got a green light! We’re gonna take a ride! Come on! What are you waiting foo-oo-or? It’s time to move it! It’s time to groove it! Are you ready? Cause here we goo-oo-oo!) Honestly, in the scheme of “things that get stuck in my head” the Fresh Beat Band is NOT THAT BAD. I may in fact actually…like that song. Don’t tell anyone.
I don’t feel even a teeny tiny little bit bad about letting Little Evan watch TV if it means no one gets smacked in the face, buried under a mountain of dirty laundry, or left at the fire station under the child surrender laws. (Not that I’VE ever Googled those in the midst of a meltdown. Nope.)
In the long run, my toddler learns to speak Chinese and I am a better parent. I see no problems.
Sometimes, even all the happy songs and Blue’s Clues on the planet can’t solve the huge, life destroying problems my toddler faces – such as “Why can’t I eat fourteen lollipops for breakfast?” or “Why did I get yelled at for punching my sister in the head?” Life’s mysteries are SO MYSTERIOUS when you are 2. And when you lack the words to explain why you are so upset, the only way to express yourself is flinging your body on the ground and hitting anything that comes within reach. Obviously.
I have learned the suggestion that one “take a deep breath and count to ten” when one is faced with those kinds of meltdowns isn’t just an expression or a general way saying “chill out”. For it to work, you have to ACTUALLY STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING, close your eyes, take several deep breaths in…and…out…and count to 10 VERY SLOWLY. It’s not going to stop the toddler’s behavior, but it will stop you from throwing your own tantrum in return.
Because that is my biggest parenting challenge: not responding like a toddler when faced with a toddler. Which sounds totally ridiculous – I am a GROWN ASS ADULT. I have leveled up appropriately and unlocked all the adult life achievements (college +1, apartment +1, marriage +1, mortgage +1, credit card + a zillion) and yet when someone screams in my face and lashes out it takes every ounce of my strength not to react in kind. It’s stupid and childish and makes me feel like I truly have absolutely no idea what I am doing when it comes to this parenting gig.
WHY ISN’T THERE A TEST? Or a LICENSE? Some sort of oversight program or home visit or preparedness class I had to attend before I was allowed to get pregnant? Why wasn’t I given some sort of practice training child I couldn’t screw up before I got the final draft? Terrible planning, mother nature. Terrible.
But despite all the toddlering going on, I am taking my deep breaths and learning to be patient. I remind myself (over and over and over and over)(and over and over and over) that this too shall pass. I refuse to argue with a 2 year old and pick my battles much more carefully – is it worth losing my cool over pajama shirts or hair washing or sandals or 3 more bites of dinner or keeping the cushions on the couch or how many blankets to bring downstairs or sharing the red truck instead of the blue truck or the five billion other things Little Evan wants to fight about every single day?
No. No it is not.
At the end of the day, he’s a wonderful boy (Especially at the literal end of the day – bedtime is one thing we’ve got worked out). Smart and funny and kind and generous and joyful and friendly. I look forward to spending time with him and seeing the world as the Super! Awesome! Exciting! Place! he thinks it is. We have such GOOD good times that it makes the bad days seem so much worse. I want to just grab him by the shoulders mid-meltdown and shout “WE COULD BE HAVING FUN! WHY AREN’T WE HAVING FUN?!”
But that’s not very grown-up of me.