It has been a morning.
I should start by explaining that I have had about 2 hours of sleep– which is not anyone’s fault. Sometimes my mind just conspires against me that way.
So, after a strong dose of coffee, when the fog finally began to lift, I reminded Naya that it was swim lesson morning. We got excited, talking about kicking, reaching, and playing with friends. She loves swim.
Then, after a bit more of the caffeinated good stuff, I proceeded to make preparations for this adventure– packing the bag with suit, swim diapers, wet bags, extra diapers, baby wash, baby lotion, snack, sippy cup, the necessities of my own. I bathed, shaved, and suited up. Swimming morning definitely takes the most prep work of any of our scheduled programming, but it ’s typically rewarded with the true glee of my water baby.
Thus, this morning when it was time to get Naya ready for the adventure, and she sat, diaperless atop her bed screaming “NO DIAPER! NO SWIMMING!” I was more than a little exasperated. I am, however, in the midst of reading Love and Logic, which, though extremely heavy-handed and hyperbolic (think, “Give your toddler limits or he will grow up to be a psychopath!”) has some decent ideas, so I tried not to make a big deal while I explained the situation, expressed disappointment with her choice, and left her to deal with her decision. Because, in reality, I would rather deal with a child who doesn’t want to swim at home than in the locker room at the Y (By the way, offers to help from sympathetic strangers do not, in fact, make mothers of toddlers who are melting down in the Y locker room feel any better about the situation– or make said toddler any more likely to stop melting down. Really).
Of course, then she peed on the bed– through comforter, blankets, and sheets. And, of course, by the time I had stripped the bed, microwaved the dregs from the coffee maker, tuned up some Louis Armstrong on Pandora, and started in on the task of the dishes, her freshly diapered (I have my limits with this whole choices thing when it comes to three extra loads of laundry), very sad self came into the kitchen whimpering, like a skipping record, “Go swimming now?” And, of course, by this time it was too late to make it to the 35 minute toddler class. And of course, after the 692nd repetition of her request to do exactly what I wanted to do in the first place and subsequent meltdown when I was unable to comply, I was. . . beyond words.
I mean, seriously. These are not sanity fostering working conditions.
But, as parents of toddlers know, this is how many a day seem to go. In their struggle for their new-found independence toddlers melt down– often and with little consistency or predictability. (And if yours doesn’t, I really, really, really don’t want to hear about it. Sorry. Misery doesn’t love a know-it-all.) And still, we need to get through our days.
When I was childless and knew everything, I would see exasperated parents of small children in the middle of a meltdown and think terrible things about how they probably were doing something wrong– not being consistent enough, not providing their child with the attention or rest they needed, whatever. And, obviously, there are plenty of those cases– if your child is being unruly in the toy store, for example, it’s probably not the time to buy her the toy she’s been coveting, right?– but in general, we’re all just trying to get through our days with our marbles intact.
Case in point: The store that best suits our grocery shopping needs is a bit of a drive for us. It typically takes us about 25 minutes to get there. So, by the time I’ve checked the weekly sales, made my list, collected the grocery bags, packed the diaper bag, wrangled the little darling into the car seat, and pulled into the parking lot, I’m usually about an hour into the adventure, right? So, then if 10 minutes into the experience my little dear starts screaming, “WANT COOKIE NOW!” am I going to (as my know-everything self of 4 years ago would have suggested) abandon ship, take my ball, and go home?
HECKY NO! We’re going to haul grocery cart over to the bakery department. Get that girl a cookie! NOW!
Yes, I know that by doing this I am perpetuating the cycle by reinforcing her cookie seeking behavior– but those dang bakery workers who started her off on the habit by handing her free cookies were the gateway, I tell you! Pastry pushers!
The fact is, we need groceries. My time to get them is limited, and unless I decide to do the grocery shopping at 10 p.m. (which I have, indeed, done on occasion for just this reason), it’s going to include my cookie monster kid. So if we have to check out with 11 (ok, 10. . . or 9) cookies instead of the original 12, and my kid has oatmeal cookie mush all over her face (and hair, and probably ears) by the time we leave the store, I’m going to be ok as long as I don’t have to go back for another week. . . or two.
The fact is, in parenting we plan for perfection and deal with reality. Every day.
The fact is, I might just have to put her in her suit and fill up the bathtub.