My Terrible, Terrific Toddler

I’m sitting in my favorite chair with a hot water bottle on the back of my neck. There is an angry muscle in there. It’s been bothering me since Friday morning.  Friday was the first of five days of state testing, so I blamed the spasms of pain on that. It also causes my left eye to twitch (an anxiety tic leftover from childhood, usually only visible in the presence of my mother – especially since she always points it out and says “Your eye is twitching. I can SEE it. I KNOW you’re mad”). I gave my students a speech about how important the testing was. Implored them to try as hard as they could. Reminded them of all the test-taking strategies we’d discussed. Then, watched helplessly as they “answered” 66 questions in 20 minutes and then put their heads down on their desks.

I’m going to try a different tactic tomorrow. I’m going to lower my expectations in an effort to stem my disappointment.

To be fair, several of them tried. It’s just funnier when I make sweeping, negative generalizations.

So, V is singing to herself (I can’t recognize the song. She might be making it up) and making an off-brand Lego tower while Odie does laundry. As a result of their industriousness, I get to heat up my neck muscles and hope for relief and in the process get a nice break to write.

The weather is beautiful outside. If this were a few months ago, I’d insist we use one of our many local memberships to enjoy it. The zoo, the botanical gardens, or the arboretum would all suffice. I’m just too big and uncomfortable. I am 33 weeks and 5 days pregnant. My feet and ankles swell. I get sausage fingers. I’m also loath to take V out by myself, because I can neither run after her nor carry her very far. She is two, and one of her favorite “games” is to run, run, run. It’s completely adorable to watch her zig-zag to and fro, giggling her curly little head off. However, this needs to happen in a controlled setting and it inevitably ends in a fall and tears.

In fact, most of what V does during the day ends in tears. Toddlers acquire curiosity and speed long before balance and deliberation. She loves to run while looking behind her to see who might give chase. Anyone with experience knows that running while looking BEHIND oneself has disaster written all over it. Other ways our play time ends in tears include: temper tantrums, mood swings, and time-outs. Things will be going very well, and then she’ll take a big bite of Play-Doh, chew it up into a purple glob, and spit the gooey mess onto the floor. There will be a warning, some attempt at distraction and redirection, and finally, another gooey glob of Play-Doh and spit on the carpet. I call this phenomenon “The Two Year-Old Turn,” as in we’ll be having a good time, but it always has to take a two year-old turn and end badly.

Throwing, hitting, spitting and declarations of “No! That’s MIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNE!” have all entered our life.

Hey, they don’t call it the “Terrible Twos” for nothing. If it were anything else, you’d hear about the “Terrific Twos,” or the “Tremendous Twos,” or at worst, the “Tolerable Twos.”

I spend no small amount of time worrying about how my little dictator is going to respond to her little sister. She hugs and kisses my pregnant tummy and informs me, “Mommy, your tummy is REALLY big!” She points it out to strangers and says, “Mommy has a baby in her tummy!” or “My SISTER is in mommy’s tummy!” She’s great at making words and sentences, but I don’t think she knows what it means that mommy has a baby in her tummy. We read books about baby sisters to her at bedtime, but we also read books about a talking bat who thinks she’s a bird, an opera and modern art-loving pig, and a rabbit who goes to sleep in a green room with a creepy old lady in a rocking chair telling him to “hush.”  

I’m doing everything I can to prepare her. The nesting is starting to kick in big time, too. I’ve had Odie move some furniture. I’m eyeing the closets and cupboards and planning a huge Goodwill Donation purge. My toddler is sleeping in her toddler bed. She puts up a HUGE fight at naptime, but at bedtime, she’s pretty agreeable. I had to push her bed up next to mine, though. This way, she’ll fall asleep because I’m next to her, but she has her own bed. The next steps are: moving the bed away and teaching her to fall asleep alone. I’m encouraged by the progress we’ve made in two short weeks. Last night, she asked for her Pillow Pet and her Mimi quilt (made for her by someone she calls “Mimi”) and within a few minutes, she was asleep. I lay there staring at her sleeping form. Who IS this child? This big kid, cuddled under her quilt, head on a pillow, SLEEPING by herself in her bed?

My terrible, tremendous, terrific little toddler, that’s who.

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About Mrs Odie

Like you, only funnier.
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