Archive for the ‘toddler’ Category

I’m finally finishing Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles.  I started reading it about a year ago when Avi and I were going through a particularly trying time.  I never finished it because I was able to apply the first half so readily that our situation improved right away and we moved on.

Life has gotten rough again.  She’s almost three.  And, boy, is she three.  All my mom-friends agree that they don’t understand why everyone gripes about the Terrible Twos when the Threes are far Worse.

For those of you who don’t remember, or are new readers, let me fill you in on my peanut:

  • She is what people call a “spirited” child.
  • She is absurdly precocious and has been speaking in complete sentences and holding entire comprehensible conversations for so long now that I can barely remember her as a non-speaker.
  • She has the ability to remember visual details.  She never fell for “out of sight, out of mind,” even as an infant.
  • She has a loooooooong attention span and can play the same game for over an hour.
  • She needs to feel she finished what she’s doing before she can move on and has a very hard time with transitions.
  • Emotionally, she’s exactly where she should be.  This makes it hard because the adults around her can forget that even though she can speak like a four year old and plays pretend like a five year old, she still is a two year old.
  • She has really good logical thinking skills which drives me crazy because everything that can become a negotiation becomes a negotiation.
  • She does not sleep readily.  At almost three, she finally sleeps through the night but can still take an hour to fall asleep and crawls into bed with me by dawn.  She does not nap.

So, now we’re back to today and the fact that I’m almost done with this book.  It’s been very helpful.  It uses the Myers-Briggs personality spectrums to help you identify your own strengths and challenges as well as your childs.  So, you can see where the interactions are beneficial and where it can cause communication (and patience) to break down.

For example, we both feel the need to “finish” things.  I can find it hard to set something down and pay attention to Avi even when she needs it most.  However, now that I’ve identified this issue, I can consciously say to myself “my child needs attention.  If I give it to her for these two minutes, she will feel loved and satisfied and then I will return to this task.”  And, voila, it has worked wonders.  This step alone has meant far fewer time struggles.

And then there was today.  The elongated steps of my Thinking Child:

  1. She spent the morning in a new situation with a babysitter and then we went to two different grocery stores before we came home for lunch.  We were both tired.  I promised her that after I picked up the kitchen clutter we would play.
  2. She became a bunny and hopped around my feet, chipped in a little, and then climbed under the table to make it her home.  All was good.
  3. She then tried to “tie” the cushions back on the two kitchen seats.  She actually does manage to tie things sometimes so she did one successfully and was close enough with the second that she was okay with it.  But then she got to the second cushion and lost.her.shit.
  4. I responded that she needed to use her big girl words to ask for help, “Mama, can you please help me tie the cushion?” but screaming and yelling was not a choice.  And so it began.
  5. She whined, “puhhleeassse?!?!”
  6. I replied, “please, what?”  Saying the word ‘please’ in a whiny voice isn’t enough.  Use your big girl words and ask for help, “Mama, Please help me tie the cushion.”
  7. And she exploded.  And I negotiated and she kept intermittently screaming.  I proclaimed I’d had enough with the crying.  And she kept going.
  8. It was then I remembered that there is a difference between ‘negotiating’ and ‘coaching’ so I knelt down in front of her, made eye contact and gave her three choices, “I see that you are angry.  1 – You can go to your room and keep crying.  2 – You can take a break by sitting on the couch, playing, take a breath, or read a book and come back and try the cushion when you’re ready.  3 – You can use your big girl words and ask for help. “
  9. She responded by saying she didn’t like choices and breaks.  “I can see that you are angry and having trouble making a decision.  If you need it, I can help you decide.”  I re-iterated the options to which she said she’d read a book with me.
  10. I stuck to my guns and said that she would have to read alone because I wasn’t done in the kitchen to which she replied that she would take a break on the couch watching a movie.
  11. “You may not watch a movie.  You may read a book.”
  12. This went on for I don’t know how long.  I’m sure I also threatened to make the choice for her, of course, that’s not what this book advises nor does it ever work but it always comes out of my mouth.  Eventually, we ended up on the couch reading a book after I assured her she had already used her big girl words to express the need for me to be with her.
  13. We read a book together, which I prefaced with the fact that I would have to finish the kitchen after this book and then we would play as promised.  Which I did.
  14. Here’s where it gets funny:  It is now an hour later.  We are upstairs playing together.  I have taken a minute to put a shirt in a drawer while she is lacing some beads.  She gleefully proclaims, “I have decided to use my big girl words and ask for you to tie on the cushion!”
  15. I said, “great!  Let’s do it!  Ask away!”
  16. She leads me down the stairs, explaining that as soon as we get to the kitchen she will use her big girl words to ask me to tie on the cushions.
  17. We arrive in the kitchen, she races to the chair, she asks me nicely, and I tie on the cushion.
  18. It took my child an entire hour to process.  An entire hour.

Now I understand how it is that I, someone who is possibly one of the most patient people alive, can lose my temper so frequently with this child.


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There was a time when you flew in circles about the room, flapping your wee wings and laughing in delight.

There was a time when the cries ushering from your mouth were only true tears of sadness or hunger.

A hug, a nurse, a kiss, a tickle, cheered all.

Where have you gone, my little fae?  And who is this peskie pixie that has come in your place?

Who screams with a banshie howl, shattering glass with her spoiled desires.

Who refuses to listen to reason and instead throws herself on the ground–a heap of thrashing limbs.

Who screams and screams and screams and screams.

And then screams some more.

Where did she come from and why?

But, of most importance, how do I get you back, child of my heart?

I see glimpses of you as she gasps for a new breath.  I see you underneath it as she whimpers, ‘I want a hug.’  But I cannot give in while she is still here.  That would make her stronger.  Some how I must resist her caterwauling and still find you beneath it all.

I don’t know how to do that.

I miss you, child of my heart.  I miss the mama I was to you.

But, most of all, I miss you.  My little faery child.  I miss you.  I hope you find your way home soon.

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We all have that one thing we fear above all else.

When we confront it, we find ourselves in our own personal Hell.

And so I found myself last night.

Sitting on a toilet.

Bile lifting its way up through my impassible esophagus, acid searing into the delicate folds of tissue, tears and snot streaming down my face.

By 2am, I learned to stop trying to swallow as it gathered: just drop my shoulders, duck over the bucket and cry.

It was when I sat panting over the bucket for the last time that I smelled something suspicious.  No, not my own bile sludge.  Something smokey.

I tottered my way downstairs, clutching my cleaned out bucket, to discover the forgotten candle in the bathroom.

It had burned down to the cardboard wrapper, which now burned and smoked.  It had dripped over the edge of the counter, igniting the toilet paper roll which was smoking heavily.  The plastic holder melted and pooled on the floor.

I atleast had the forsight to fill up a cup of water before entering the bathroom which I promptly dumped on everything before shoving it all in the sink and turning on the faucet.

My own personal hell had fire in it.

Life doesn’t get more oddly symbolic than this.

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Some-Day Garden

Pink long-sleeved shirt.

Padded toddler undies drooping in the rear.

Knobby knees and strong skinny thighs smiling at the spring sun.

Fly-away hair.

White socks pulled up as high as they can go.

Brown mary-janes lovingly dirtied.

A stick in one hand, you “tap tap tapped” the dirt in our some-day garden.

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Popeye’s Dimension

I stopped dead in my tracks.  Maybe I had misheard her–maybe we’d entered another dimension.  My cat had, after all, spent a better part of the afternoon chasing invisible objects that I geekily referred to as “creatures from another dimension that we mere humans can’t see.”  But, for fear that we were still, indeed, in the same mundane and earthly dimension, I didn’t ask her to repeat what she’d just said, “I like my pinach, Mama.”

That’s spinach for those of you who don’t know toddler-speak.

“That’s wonderful, honey,” I reply nonchalantly.  “Would you like some more?”


I piled her plate full of raw baby spinach leaves which she happily munched for the rest of dinner.

I have a 2 year old who likes spinach.


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I didn’t bring the spare.  They were nestled in our cold cold car, and here we were in the mall with a puddle of pee and soaked toddler.

Sears to the rescue.

After racing to the potty, cleaning up, and wrapping her bare bottom in my sweater, we headed to the children’s sale rack to see what we could find.

Pink sweatpants for $4.  Score!

But try as might, I coudn’t convince her to wear pants without undies.

So we went in search of the undies section.

“No, honey, those are boys.  How about Dora?  These are for girls.”

“Look!  Minnie!”

“That’s Mickey.”

“I like Mickey!”

I was wearing out at this point so I didn’t care to point out that these were boys undies too.  We paid at the counter, turned down the bag since we were putting them on right away anyways, and went around the corner to hide in the candle section.

I ripped open the package and handed over the pair with Mickey on the ass.

She pulled them on, pleased with herself.  And then looked down and exclaimed: “These are boys’ undies!”

I stuttered, “Uh, well, yes, yes they are.  But that’s okay.  You can still wear them.”  I didn’t think she’d spot the gender-bender.  I figured she’d stick her hand through the hole and exclaim about the pocket.  I didn’t know she could actually identify boys undies.

“When we get home, we should give them to a boy.”

“You want to give them away?”


“Um, okay, I’ll call and see if W__ needs some Mickey undies.  He likes Mickey.”

“Otay.”  And she pulled on her pink sweatpants and told me to throw the package away so we could go walk around some more.

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