Help! My two-year-old is out to destroy my sanity…

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.




10 thoughts on “Help! My two-year-old is out to destroy my sanity…

  1. Mama says:

    You may as well feel gratitude for them both: I don’t think you can have one without the other during this exciting and ever-challenging year!

    I wonder whether you will get a ten-month two-year-old out of this, or you’ll get two months of two-year-oldism after his third birthday? A year of it is pretty standard – amazingly so, actually. But you kids all started on time. Oh, I’ve got it! He’s compressed the usual amount of contrariness for three months into one! That’s why your sanity is endangered!

  2. Lili says:

    I love how you put so beautifully into words what I go through everyday! I wish I could express myself so easily. Know that when you are going through these frustrating times that there are so many of us moms who feel your struggles and have gone through this. Work and home life is such a tricky balance and I strive on a daily basis just to make it work. Big hugs sent your way cuz I know how tough it can get! 🙂

    • diblog says:

      Lili, I can only begin to understand a little of what you go through every day! You are AMAZING to be parenting your big beautiful family and working too… I don’t know how you do it. Big hugs to you too!!

  3. Carol Leigh Wehking says:

    “Going from summer, where we’re together almost every day, to five workdays a week” – well, yes, that’s bound to be an important factor – it’s even hard for you, and you have lots more self-monitoring and rational skills than a two-year-old has! But it’s also because he is indeed two, and developmentally appropriate, how ever infuriating that can be for the parent.
    Good advice that i got was: choose your battles. Let as many things that don’t REALLY matter in the big picture just go for now. Plus sometimes “natural” consequences do the job for you: he might get tired of wearing his shirt around his neck with his arms not in the sleeves; he might get chilly without a jacket; he might have to sit on the potty all by himself if Mama is not interested in being argued with. etc. He does need to have some control, so choices are good (the old “do you want to wear your red pajamas or your blue pajamas?” – the pajamas themselves not being optional –do you want to eat your peas first or your broccoli first? etc)
    Just don’t be surprised if he comes up with real zingers like “You don’t know how to be a good mother.” Try not to freak out if that one shows up.
    You love him anyway, and he may be testing the truth of that.

    • diblog says:

      Carol Leigh, we’ve been doing choices too… they often work pretty well, but then sometimes it’s like, “Would you like this or this?” and he just says “No I don’t.” Ha. As for “You don’t know how to be a good mother”… wow! Did you have to hear that one?? Ouch. Kids do know how to hit below the belt, it seems. So far, I’ve had “No I don’t love you, Mommy!” a couple times. But as long as the “I love you, Mommy”s are more frequent, I can laugh it off.

  4. dyerbay says:

    Your story reminded me of a saying that is usually told to moms with new babies, but I think is still applicable… Just when you think you’ve hit your breaking point, the situation changes.

    • diblog says:

      I know I’ve heard “Just when you think you’ve figured it out, something changes”… but it’s good to think it works both ways. 🙂

  5. Carrie says:

    So, as a mom of a child virtually exact same age as E, let me just say I am LMAO!!! (forgive short forms!) I can SOOOOOO commiserate with every single sentence written in this blog! Well, except the toilet training, because now M refuses to sit on hers anymore! Pull-ups are apparently sufficient, and NOT diapers (“no more diapers for me Mom”). Just remember that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I’m here with you! So with you! Ready to fill you in a few “I love her, but I just want to duct tape her to the wall at this momemnt in time” stories anytime you need!! 🙂

  6. Nellie says:

    Yes as a mom of a 2 year old, my baby usually BEGS me to get on the potty, (tells me exactly what he wants to do) Sits there for a while, and tells me he is finish … with nothing in the potty. awesome. It has to get better right?

    • diblog says:

      Nellie, have you tried bribery yet? We were in that phase for a looong time… until we found the right bribe! 🙂 We find yogurt-covered raisins work well. Good luck!

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