So, parenting a 2.5 year old has its challenges.
My sweet little E has acquired the ability to morph into a wild-eyed, screaming, kicking tornado of a boy at the drop of a hat. For awhile it was happening with alarming frequency, and I was afraid we’d never be able to leave home again.
But, things have calmed down quite a bit, and now we know that certain conditions are especially conducive to the tantrums of doom, and we endeavor to avoid those circumstances. That makes it sound like we just give him his way to appease him and stop the madness, but that’s not what I mean. It’s more that we, like the geniuses we are, finally figured out that things like late nights don’t work for E. I mean, he can handle life 30 minutes past bedtime, and still be an adorable human. But.
Anything past that 30 minute window and you’re taking your life into your hands. He remains sweet and convivial up to the moment you mention bedtime (or something equally heinous). Then, all bets are off. He transforms into a shrieking ball of pure energy, all focused on being as illogical and contrary as humanly possible. It’s impressive.
The same thing can happen right around lunchtime, but it’s usually not as intense. A few days ago, even as I was in the midst of preparing his lunch, I had to stop and put him down for his nap because he just couldn’t handle life for one minute longer. He woke up, had his lunch at 2:30, and was lovely to be around for the rest of the day. The boy just needs his sleep.
On Friday, he was in time out because of a small matter of disobedience. His (ONE MINUTE) timer was seriously 9 seconds from going off, and he made the questionable decision to rise up from his “orange thing” (the time out cushion) and push me. I sat him back down, restarted the timer for 2 minutes (yep, I’m a monster), and proceeded to change A’s diaper in the meantime. E started crying softly, and then called, “MOOOOMMMYY! I can’t do this time out right now! I just need a nap, Mommy! Pleeeeeaaase!” I went in and asked him if he was sure and he said, “Yes, I’m sure. If I can please take a little nap then I can do my 2 minutes after I wake up.”
Guys. Is that not the sweetest, saddest thing you’ve ever heard? I assured him that if he needed a nap he could take one, and that if he took a nap I was sure he wouldn’t need to do his time out, because he’d probably feel much more ready to be nice afterward. Still, though, he slept for over an hour and when he woke up he called, “Mommy, I’m ready for my time out!” just as happy as could be. I waived his sentence for good behavior. Anyway, I’m taking his self-imposed nap at 11 am to be a sign that he’s learning a little bit about how to regulate his temper. He’s got a long way to go before I’m off the hook, but I’m glad he’s starting to make the connection between his level of grouchiness and his sleepiness. Update: I tried moving both lunch and nap 30 minutes earlier today, and it seemed to help. I mean, we had already happened to have an early morning meltdown, but the rest of the day was fine.
E has also made the transition away from a crib, as he demonstrated during one tantrum that he could (with scarcely any effort involved) climb out in less than half a second. He’d never tried before, but lack of experience was apparently not an issue. All in all, he’s done really well with his big boy bed. He gets up once in awhile, and fell asleep half in and half out of bed the other afternoon, but doesn’t get up and play while he’s supposed to be asleep, for the most part.
BUT, last night Ben was in a meeting so I’d put E down for the night and was working on getting A ready for bed, when I heard E’s door open. I heard about 3 footfalls and then the door closed, and the bed thumped. This happened again and again and the 4th time it happened he definitely took a longer trip outside of his room. When I heard him return and close the door again, I pulled up the monitor on my phone and enabled the microphone to tell him “Do not get out of your bed again!” He looked up at the camera and told me sweetly, “Okay Mommy, I won’t!” And was asleep 5 minutes later. This morning, when I went in to get him (in spite of the fact that we took the side of the crib off, he won’t get out of bed in the morning unless we are in the room) he asked me, “Why did you talk to me on the camera?” I told him. And then I asked him, “What was wrong? What were you doing?” He said, “Not anything was wrong, Mom. I just forgot my wallet in the living room.” Then he held up his hand to show me his imaginary wallet. Ugh. It was so adorable.
As for Baby A, he is pretty easygoing and doesn’t give us any of that tantrum trouble. He’s army crawling all over the place, complaining only when he gets stuck. He plays so well on his own now that he’s mobile that I have a new (but, as it turns out, completely false) sense of freedom to accomplish things around the house. Unfortunately, if I use my eyeballs to do anything but watch him play on the floor, he eats things like E’s stickers, small toys, and our shoes. Yesterday I turned my gaze for 4 seconds and when I looked back he was gagging on something. I could see it on his tongue so I swept it out with my finger and, upon examination, I realized it was part of a stink bug carapace. Well, then we were both gagging (and one of us screamed a little).
E and A are discovering the joys of brotherhood. Baby A’s face lights up whenever he sees his big brother, and he loves to laugh at anything E says at the dinner table. E is finding it more difficult to share his toys with his little brother now that A can actually play with them, but for the most part they play nicely together. The other night E offered to read A some books to “cheer him up” for me (though he already seemed perfectly happy). It was awesome. E kept explaining to A that “I don’t know how to read all the words, so…” The story involved Dr. Luke (from the Bible) going to a house made of straw and telling the little pig inside that his house should have been built on the rock. But, then there was a shipwreck and in the morning everyone ate breakfast with Jesus by the fire. I’m sure I’ve lost some of the major details of the story, but Baby A was on the edge of his seat the whole time.
The weather has turned all summery this week, so apart from the sticky heat of doom (I’m ready for fall), things are pretty nice around here. E has been loving being able to play outside more. He’s picked plenty of our dandelions, tons of deadnettle, and (against my wishes) one of my few double tulips. We’ve been traipsing about photographing jays, woodpeckers, ducks, starlings, and cardinals. And today, covered from head to toe with sidewalk chalk, E got to watch a robin feed her babies in the nest she made under our eaves.
Well, I’m tired, hungry, hot, and behind on my chores, but tomorrow is a new day, and, as I told my son (right after he hit me, “to see if it would get your glasses off, Mommy!”), we can start fresh and ask Jesus to help us make good choices.
I’m looking forward to it.