Posted on September 21st, 2011
Apparently it’s World Gratitude Day today. (I’ve never heard of this, but Care2 told me. I bet Oprah started it.) I started today feeling as ungrateful as I have in ages, all because of that wonderful kid I love so much. It seems unfair to gripe about him when I’ve been collecting bits of bloggable awesomeness about him all summer that I still haven’t posted… but that time will come. And I guess I’ve done a couple of posts about his good points in the past, ha ha.
This was the first day I’ve arrived at school feeling like I just couldn’t do it. I was completely drained before I started, and it was all on my two-year-old. (Okay, not ALL – but still.) Very, very two, that kid. He’s had a cough for the last several days, so hasn’t been sleeping well (neither have we) and has been grumpier than usual. Think uber-whiny. Combine that with the fact that he has assigned himself the moral obligation to contradict everything anyone says… and you get some very frustrating situations. Take this morning:
E: I have to poop on the potty!
Mommy: Okay, let’s go!
E (arriving at his potty): Noooo! I don’t wanna go on the potty!! (struggling but eventually sitting down)
Mommy tries to give him a hug instead of words, knowing that this often succeeds in calming him. Not today.
E (shriekily, pushing Mommy away): No, you don’t wanna give me a hug!
Mommy tries giving him a kiss instead.
E (still pushing): No, you don’t wanna give me a kiss!
Mommy gets up and goes to find her abandoned breakfast.
E (screeching): Mommy! DON’T GO AWAY FROM ME!!
[Perhaps you can sense that we’ve been at this for a while. It’s been a hard acculturation, since he’s always been a pretty easygoing boy and we’ve been, honestly, quite spoiled. Now I’m having to get used to being told that I’m not what I think I am, and that nothing else is what I think it is, either. This kid has literally denied his own arms – as in, “Let’s get your arms in those sleeves-” “No, they’re NOT my arms!” Sometimes it’s funny; sometimes it’s quite unfunny; usually it means we take forever to get anywhere – physically or metaphorically. For a while it was a handy-dandy coercion method (“You don’t want to eat your peas…” “Yes, I do!!”), but that is wearing off. Now I’m even getting attitude: he has recently been loving the word “already” (as in “No, I already gave you a kiss, Mommy!”), and yesterday when I would ask him to confirm something he wanted, he would say, downright bitchily, “I just SAID that alREAdy!!” And then there’s the sustained cry/whine – our babysitter didn’t witness it, but he saves it for us, so I’ve been getting it all the way to her house, and all the way home, and for large chunks of the evening, too.]
I think I jinxed myself by talking to my EAP counselor yesterday and telling her how the transition to school had been going well: my co-workers are great and my students are lovely, my energy level is surprisingly okay, for the most part I’ve been able to separate work and family so I don’t get sad at work, and I’ve had lots of help with new curriculum so the stress hasn’t been bad.
Then I arrived at school today feeling defeated and pointless, for real, for the first time. It was a deflating moment, with a lesson I apparently need to learn multiple times: being “okay” is subject to technical glitches.
But I’m lucky. I went on yard duty and ran into one of my colleagues – someone I knew for sure would totally understand if I kvetched about my son. And she could tell by my face it had been a rough morning already (by 8:35). It was good to unload a little.
Then, fortunately, I had a bit of prep time to decompress. And then, I walked into my first classroom, where Mr. A had his whole class sitting perfectly, facing the door with beaming faces and hands in laps, waiting eagerly just to say “Bonjour, Madame!” in unison as soon as they saw me. Now there’s a moment that can turn your day around.
By pick-up time today, E seemed to have reached a turning point. There was no whining, no melting down about leaving, or about his seat belt (which he must clip himself), or wanting to play with my keys, or wanting to lock the doors, or any number of things that have been touchy subjects lately. He just talked about things, and even threw a few yeses in with the nos. He was happy to see Daddy when we picked him up. When we got home, he spent a long time just sitting all snuggly with me, patting my arm. We played and had a lot of fun, and he didn’t cry at all. Huh.
I guess it might have something to do with me being away so much, all of a sudden. Going from summer, where we’re together almost every day, to five workdays a week… it’s an adjustment. On Tuesday morning last week, I told him I was going to work, and he insisted, “No, you’re not going to work! You goed to work already!” Poor sweetie.
I am learning. It is a very interesting process, trying to figure out the best ways to deal with twoyearoldism. A lot of it is actually learning about myself – analyzing my own reactions and why I have them – and which ones are effective.
E is now angelically sleeping, having gone down virtually without protestation, saying he loved us. He was coughing when we laid him down, and he said, as he often does after coughing when we look worried, “I’m okay.”
I don’t know quite how these two personalities co-exist in such a little guy… but I guess I’ll take both. And feel gratitude for both.