Photo by Laurie Pink
Time for a confession. (And maybe a rant) I may be a bad mother. In fact, I’m pretty sure that, this week, I am. In my defense, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, sometime in the last two weeks, my adorable little two year old daughter was possessed by some sort of heretofore unknown evil demon troll. I think “Fun Mommy” was necessarily replaced by “Smackdown Mommy,” simply because I’m doing my best to keep us both alive and sane. And, by the way, you know all those cute little things that toddlers say and do? Yeah, well – they tend to have less impact when you’re bracing yourself for the evil troll that you know is soon to follow. Still cute, but in a fleeting sort of way.
I’ve tried multiple tactics. Planned ignoring for outbursts and temper tantrums. Zero tolerance (state the consequence and then swoop in to enforce). Timeouts. Distraction. Getting on her level. Patience, patience and more patience. Speaking of which, do you have any extra, because I’m completely out. Maybe in your pantry? If so, please send some over, stat!
Sigh. Yes, I’ve heard of the “terrible twos.” Yes, Mom, I know that this is karma coming back to bite my butt for all the grief I ever gave you. (I joke that my mom made me spend my childhood in the corner.) And I know that this is part of her gaining independence and growing up. But it is SO very tiring. She argues with everything. Give her two choices – she’ll pick a third. Stick firmly to the two choices, she insists harder on the third. She gets that little gleam in her eye and purposefully does something that she knows she’ll get in trouble for, just to test our alertness or maybe how tired we are. I tell her not to climb on top of the bookshelf. She asks why. I tell her she’ll fall and break her head off. She wails, “But I WANT to break my head off.” Great. Good times.
A big issue right now is napping. Yes, I KNOW that many 2 year-olds often quit napping around this stage. The thing is, all morning she says she’s tired and frequently lays her head down. She ACTS tired and fussy. She LOOKS tired. Sometimes she even asks if it’s nap time and happily goes up to her room. Then, she works her hardest to avoid sleep. Kicking, shouting, singing, humming, thrashing, tossing and turning. She has to be on her feeding pump during naptime, and she recently started unhooking her tube. On purpose. She readily confesses when I go up. Can you say, “HUGE MESS”??? A disconnected tube means formula is pumped all over the bed, AND the contents of her stomach are allowed to come out. Gross. All over her, the bed, sometimes the floor. This equals HUGE SLEEP STALL TACTIC for little miss. It’s also a big problem, because she needs those calories and food. She’s not getting any others. We have to nip this behavior in the bud.
Commence Smackdown procedure. For two days, I have told her that if she unhooked her tube, she would lose everything in the bed with her. She sleeps with a small pillow, a blanket, a favorite animal, a pacifier and her pacifier “string” which is the ribbon for clipping her paci. The last two things are MAJOR for her to lose. For two days, she seemed terrified of this consequence. Score 1 for Smackdown Mom. Today, for whatever reason, the threat of the consequence didn’t outweigh her needs to: a.) avoid sleep b.) stall the sleep time and c.) get attention (even if it’s negative) from Mommy. Ugh.
Smackdown rules? Zero tolerance. I marched upstairs, simply covered the wet spots in the bed with a blanket and sternly asked her what was going to happen next. She solemnly said, “You will take everything away.” Right-o. So I did. AND I scooted her crib into the middle of the room because she was kicking the wall. Here’s what was heard over the baby monitor for the next half hour:
I stubbed my toe. Wahhhhh-wahh-wahhh-aaaaaah-AAAAAAAHHHH!!! I stubbed my TOE!!!
Settles into muffly sobbing, sniffling. Loud thunk is heard.
I bumped my nose. I bumped my noise. I bumped my nose. I bumped my nose. I bumped my nose AGAIN. I bumped my nooooose Ahh-GIN!!!! Waaaaahhhhh-aaaah-AAAAAAH!
Where is the wall? Where is the waaaaallll?? Oh noooooo……Where is the waaaaaaallllll??
Quiet pause. Some rustling.
I have a fwog in my thwoat. I have a fwog in my thwoat. I HAVE A FWOG IN MY THWOAT!!!! Oh noooo……. I don’t know what to do. WhatamIgonna doooooooooo…….. Waaaaahhhhh – wahhh – aaaaaaah
I want my paci back. I want my paci back. I WANT MY PACI BAAAAAACK!! Waaaaaah-aaaah-AAAAAHHH
Oh no……. Oh noooo……..moaning and sniffling
Quiet……….(wimpy whimpering and snufling)
(Kicks and stomps.) I want my paci! Owwww! I bumped my nose. Ohhhhh noooooo………..Ohhhhhh NOOOOOOO! I bumped my nose again. I bumped my nose AGAIN!!!!
(softly) I bumped my nose again. I bumped my nose again. IbumpedmynoseagainIbumpedmynoseagainIbumpedmynoseagain. Moooommy! Moooooomy!!! I want to go downstairs. I WANT TO GO DOWNSTAIRS!!!!!
Quiet….Changing tactics: a call for a sympathetic savior:
Is Daddy here? Is Daddy here?? Is DADDY HERE???? Is Daddy here NOW???
Realization that no help is on the way sets in.
I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to DOOOO! I don’t know what to doooo……Oh nooooo….
And the coupe de gras:
(Quietly mumbled) I can open my tube. (Quiet.) I’m tangled up in my tube. I’m TANGLED UP! I’m tangled up in my tube!!!!
I go up, don’t make eye contact or speak to her. No attention reinforcement coming from Smackdown Mommy. The tube is open. The bed is a mess. Again. I cover the wet with a blanket, disconnect her tube, and leave. The whole time I’m in the room, she insistently asks, “Is the sun up, Mommy? Is the sun up Mommy? Is the SUN up Mommy?? IS THE SUN UP MOMMY????” When I exit, she says,
WAAAAAAAAH-AAAAAAH-AAAAAHHHH! OH NOOOOO……….. WAAAAA-AAAHHHH-AAAAAHHH!
She settles herself into snuffling again.
She quietly starts singing her own song: “Mommy loves me. Daddy loves me. Gwamma loves me. Papa loves meeee……”
Smackdown Mommy’s heart breaks just a little. But she’s still not going up there. Almost one hour after the start of it all…….Blessed quietude. I feel the tension in my shoulders relax just a little. Only a little, because I know that when she wakes up, it will all start again. Sigh.
I can’t help feeling like I’m doing something wrong. That it shouldn’t be this hard. I’m a rational adult! I have a degree in Psychology!! I am so tired.
Tomorrow will be better, right?