The Emotional Rollercoaster of Toddler Parenting

I tried to think of some non-cliché for that title (the emotional elevator? swing-set? hilly gravel road?) but nothing says it like rollercoaster. Fast-then-slow, precipices not always where you think, hectic twists and turns and loops… that’s what we have around here these days.

For example, bedtime has become, er, difficult. Leading up to E’s second birthday, we thought we were home free (HAHAHA): E was great at going to bed. Potty, pajamas, brush teeth, read stories, into bed, kisses… and he would roll over… and go to sleep.

This is now a bizarre, dreamlike recollection from an almost-forgotten era. For a while, we weren’t sure if he was just being stubborn because he was two or because he was having some separation anxiety related to Sebastian’s death – but on the off-chance that there was some of the latter, we tried to be as understanding and loving as possible. He really, really wants to fall asleep with one of us by his side – preferably with at least one of his arms snaked up our sleeve. (YOU try saying No to a kid who asks sweetly, “Can I just lie down with you – couple minutes?”)

Some nights it takes For. Ev. Er. I do try to remember to savour this, since I know it won’t last… but sometimes I think impatient thoughts that border on nasty.


Then yesterday (Sunday) he was in top form, proving he’s that one-of-a-kind kid I can’t do without. As he settled down for his nap, he stroked my arm and said, “Mommy, I love you.” Melting like I always do, I told him I loved him too. He wanted to clarify: “I love Daddy, too.”

Then later, when we went out for a wagon ride, he stopped by the doorstep to put both arms around our pair of pumpkins and say, “I’m so glad my pumpkins are here. I love them.” And it didn’t stop: near the end of our ride, when he’d opted to walk a bit, he hugged a fire hydrant and said, “I love this fire hydrant.” So basically, his love knows no bounds. (And he’s not very discriminating.)

But bedtime was still a big schmozzle.

This morning he was tired, because of the schmozzle, crying about everything from his socks to his cereal. Then by the time I picked him up from the babysitter’s, he was all smiles again.

This evening we had one of the best moments yet. We were playing “Hide the Phone”, where E takes our cordless to some cranny and then pages it and miraculously finds it again. At some point, I realized he was actually speaking to someone on the other end – I could hear someone asking to speak to me (formally, so I knew it wasn’t a friend), but E just continued to banter: “Hi, hi. How you? Hi.” I asked for the phone, but he only repeated, “I need it! I need it!” I was laughing too hard at this point to argue. By the time I got to the other extension, the poor person on the other end had given up.

Then, within a minute, he had gotten overexcited, and overbalanced himself off the couch, bonking his head hard on the coffee table. This was his worst bonk to date. A spot on his eyebrow instantly turned purple. He cried hard enough that I almost cried with him. He didn’t want the cold pack, but he did want kisses. The trouble is, kisses are actually a big scam. He kept saying through his tears, “Mommy, can you kiss it again?” because the pain was obviously not going away. He even said, “Mommy, can you fix my head?” at one point. Child, I would do anything in the world to fix your head right now, but I can’t. Damn, could I feel like a shittier mother?

Once he had calmed down, I said he might like some medicine. He has not been liking the cherry-flavoured kids’ acetaminophen lately, and I warned him it might taste bad and he might want to drink lots of water after. I didn’t want him to freak out with the unpleasant surprise. Instead, he took his drops like a trouper and said, “I like them. They’re not bad.”

He just kills me. What an adorable little brick.

I let him fall asleep with his arm up my sleeve as I lay beside him. I guess there are worse reasons to be a sucker.




7 thoughts on “The Emotional Rollercoaster of Toddler Parenting

  1. emerge says:

    Haven’t read this yet – have to wait till later – but I READ THAT BOOK!! At the Bookshelf the other day. It is awesome. I wanted to buy it.

  2. Auntie Caroleigh says:

    … your instinct to go ahead and lie down with him because this phase won’t last anyway isn’t a bad one. if you are feeling frustrated and wishing you were doing other things, it’s not as pleasant, though, so if you can plan ahead that you’ll do that so you won’t feel pulled elsewhere, and take the times it isn’t needed as a happy surprise – well, the phase will indeed soon be over. however, you can pick another choice on that – you’re the mom! head bonks do hurt the mommy too! it’s so hard each time you realize you can’t really protect your child from all harm, nor can you fix everything. but you are all doing great! as you surely do know!

  3. Lanie says:

    You are right – nothing describes it better than a rollercoaster. Our bedtime routine is often crazy long and at times difficult. I just tell myself that one of these days they won’t want me to read to them or hold their hand because they can read themselves and put themselves to bed.

    P.S. That book is very funny!

  4. Amanda says:

    I saw the book at chapters it is hilarious. I know just what you mean about that roller coaster! You and Sean are doing an amazing job riding it though. 🙂

  5. emerge says:

    He is totally a brick!!

    Oh so sorry about the big bonk though. But I hope he enjoys the experience of having a purple eye! (though it’s not something you can sign, like the funny sock.)

    Give him a big hug from me, ok?

  6. Mama says:

    What can I say? Just too thoroughly two-year-old for words. Reminds me very much of some liddoe kids I used to know…

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