Entering the Terribleness

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Dear Monkey,

Let me start off by asking, “WTF?” (and when you’re older, in case someone tells you that WTF is an acronym with a bad word in it, they’re lying. It means “What the flapjack?”) So, anyway. Monkey, WTF!?? Up until last week, you were so well behaved, had such a sunny disposition, and were so much fun to be around. Okay, so I may have my rose-colored glasses on; I mean, don’t get me wrong, you’re a freakin’ handful too, but overall, happy! And well behaved! And lovely! And then? Then? Last Friday, you got back from your nana’s house and I asked if I could take your jacket off, and you were all shrill screaming, and arm-flinging, and your interpretation of foot stomping (although neither foot actually makes it off the ground and it sometimes results in you falling down), and fake tears like I have seen no other! And I was all, “Ummm, okay. If you really want to keep your jacket on, I mean, I guess that’s fine. And by the way, it’s nice to see you too.” And the evening continued in this way. Until we put you to bed and looked at each other and shrugged, and said, “It must be teething.” And then the next day. More of this. Like when you wanted some yogurt and I readily agreed and got out the container of yogurt you had started at breakfast. But you didn’t want THAT yogurt. You wanted the OTHER yogurt. The yogurt in the DRAWER. THAT HADN’T BEEN OPENED YET, AND THEREFORE WAS UNTAINTED BY YOUR GERMS. And I kept saying, “Monkey, I have your yogurt, it’s right here.” But you did not listen to reason. YOU WANTED THE OTHER YOGURT. And. you. did it. again. The arm flinging, and the shrill screaming, and the fake tears, and this time you actually did fall down. And your father and I had to turn away because we were laughing so hard and we don’t want you to think that we’re encouraging this type of unruly, inappropriate behavior. But let me just tell you, it is dang funny to watch your still mostly uncoordinated body try to throw the most massive fit that you possibly can muster. The screaming on the other hand. Not so funny.

Then, that night at dinner, a family dinner no less, at a restaurant, with your nana and grandpa and your uncles and your aunt, you refused to eat. I mean RE-FUSED. And you used to be such a FANTASTIC eater. You eat cucumbers and cherry tomatoes and other foods that kids older than you would NEVER eat. And we were offering you some of your FAVORITE foods. Like, chicken! And rice! And suddenly you were contorting your face, and throwing your head back, and slamming your mouth shut, and scrunching up your eyes, as if I was trying to force you to eat a live insect! I mean, where did you even learn to do that?? You didn’t even agree to eat after I let you use the adult-sized utensils, which honestly are just weapons at this point. Usually this works. But not that night. So fine. Don’t eat then.

It’s not like I didn’t expect this. I just didn’t see it coming. Overnight. Like a light switch. I mean, I did expect it because your pediatrician recommended a book about it at your 12-MONTH CHECK-UP. That should have been my first clue. Apparently, she, being far more experienced in these matters, could see that you already were exhibiting certain characteristics that some may say are “spirited.” That’s why I went out and got three books — THREE BOOKS — that would help me navigate this entry into the terribleness. In fact, the books, (“Making the Terrible Twos Terrific,” “The No-Cry Discipline Solution,” and “The Happiest Toddler on the Block,”) all three of which I have modestly started, warned me about it. While they all said that this could happen around 18 months, THEY DID NOT SAY that this would happen OVERNIGHT. WITH NO WARNING. WTF!!???

Monkey, I’m not ready! You didn’t give me enough time! I thought I would have more time! You’re only 17 months! I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING! I haven’t finished any of the books!! You’re not old enough to reason with! And the situation is compounded by your limited ability to communicate. While I am unbelievably impressed with the 30 or so words that you can say, THAT LEAVES A LOT OF WORDS, MONKEY! And it seems that you’re most frustrated by my inability to understand what your dramatic pointing and stomping means. Have I mentioned that I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!??

Monkey, I should tell you that you totally redeem yourself when you kiss my knees and ask to kiss the baby belly. And one of the things I have picked up from the books is that when you’re having one of these colossal meltdowns you’re often frightened by your own reaction, and that I should hug you a lot. So, I’m giving you a lot of hugs, but I think I need to arm myself with more knowledge than that, because as great as hugs are, I don’t think hugs alone are going to get us through the next, oh 12 months.

(Sigh). I have a lot of reading to get done. Like right now.

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About Jen

On the Night You Were Born is my attempt to chronicle my joys and frustrations of parenthood. I’m fairly new to the mommy blogosphere, and I read some brilliantly-funny mom blogs, so I hope to be half as witty, insightful, and I won’t say inspiring. The only thing I hope to inspire is for my 4k kid to cut the sass and my 2.5-year-old to stop being disruptive at bedtime. Alas, they both come with time.

10 responses »

  1. Ugh – we still go through this with the four and a half year old. Sometimes we think it’s related to growth spurts but most of the time we have no idea what causes it (phases of the moon? annoyance at the health care crisis? global warming?). But ever since she was a newborn she’d go from 0 to DEFCON 3 in a heartbeat so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised it hasn’t stopped. At least when they get older you can put them on time out for failure to cooperate. Works quite well at our house.

  2. That is so very funny, and touching, from a grandparent’s perspective! Partly because it is so incredible to watch in amazement as this new healthy little personality begins to emerge and partly because – THIS IS PAYBACK, BABY! The books available to help us through the ‘terrible twos’ were as terrible as the terrible twos. Most often, though, I think that episodes like these are a combination of things, such as not feeling real well, the frustration of not being able communicate with mom and dad – she expects you, of all people to get it – and the fact that she probably doesn’t really know what is making her feel this way. She doesn’t know how to deal with what she is feeling, so she is trying different approaches. You can help her determine the better approaches. Good luck – you can do it!

    • Arlene, you’re so funny. Yes, I can certainly see this being the greatest payback when I’m a grandparent. I’m sure my mom feels that way too! 😉

  3. My first daughter started this at 18 months too and I was broken-hearted. She was also referred to as “spirited” but in our case, she was (and still is) downright strong-willed. It’s the beginning of lots of battles, but you can do it. Once you decide how you’ll handle these episodes and do so consistently (took us awhile to get that right) it’s not nearly as bad as you think it will be.

    • ck, yes, I also am what some would refer to as spirited or strong-willed ;-). I think my mom is getting the ultimate payback. At least I feel like I have an advantage in that I can empathize with how she’s feeling because we have very similar personalities. It’s getting educated on how to handle these things that has me a little worried! I’m getting there.

  4. Pingback: We Should TOTALLY Clean out the Basement Too! « On the Night You Were Born

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