Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Good Morning Sunshine!

Don't know how your day started, but here's a brief glimpse into mine...

Nomo: I'm hungry. Do you want cereal for breakfast?
Boy: Don't wanna cereal. WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!
Nomo: Ok ok, how about some toast?
Boy: (Pause) Sniff. Yeah.
Nomo: Ok, toast. Let's put your Mr. Froggy bib on.
Boy: Don't wanna froggie bib. WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!
Nomo: You have to wear the bib.
Nomo: Do you want butter on your toast?
Nomo: Alrighty then. Why don't we put butter on it just the way you like?
Nomo: Here's your toast.
Boy: No wanna toast. WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!
Nomo: Ok, I'll just sit here and eat cereal then, because that's what I want to eat.

Do you notice a pattern in this conversation? I thought so. To which pattern were you referring: the incessant crying, or my mounting frustration? Enter the Terrible Two. I've done all the reading, I know that toddlers have difficulty communicating and this results in tantrums. I know that you should keep them safe and let them have their cry. I know that you should offer choices so that they feel more in control. Sage advice. But what do you do when the tantrums make you consistently late for work? What do you do when you offer a choice, the Boy chooses neither, so you choose and he loses it? How does this very wise advice play out in real live situations? Or, what, for the love of God, am I doing wrong??

I'm afraid that this conversations paints a poor picture of the Boy. He really is the funniest, quirkiest, most congenial little boy I know. (I'm not biased, of course..). Unless, however, you do something he does not like, or ask him to do something he doesn't want to do. Or offer him a food that displeases him. Then he goes from zero to scream in .5 seconds. And all hell breaks loose.

I know, I know - I should be grateful that I have such an easy-going child the majority of the time. Believe me, I am. I get down on my knees every day and thank whatever gods are listening that such a high-strung person, like myself, should have such a good-natured child, like the Boy. But I would argue that it is precisely this easy nature which makes me wholly unprepared for when Mr. Hyde makes his appearance. I fluster. I flounder. I flop. I lose my cool. And I was not cool to begin with.

It doesn't help that we're both a bit under the weather. (That's not the reason for the breakdown of communication, but it's a factor.) It doesn't help that I've, characteristically, bitten off more than I can chew with this whole school thing and I'm freaking out about the work that must be done in the next three weeks. (This is totally not his fault, it's mine. I try not to let it affect my relations with the Boy, but I can't seem to separate it. Poor Boy.) It most certainly doesn't help that I feel like I'm hanging by a thread.



metro mama said...

We are starting to hit the tantrum stage and it's unbearable. She threw herself down kicking and screaming in a mall last week because I wouldn't let her play on the escalator.

As for the busy schedule, just keep thinking in terms of only three weeks left. Then, girl, we are hitting a patio, okay?

metro mama said...

Oops, that was supposed to be italics, not underline.

kittenpie said...

A few things that have worked around here have been:

-choices are always good. But only the choices that are really choices. So not do you want this bib, but which bib would you like? I'm big on reiterating the part that is NOT a choice, too. You need to wear a bib, so which one would you like?

- give it a minute to calm down (both of you!) Then ask again, starting fresh like the meltdown didn't happen. Meanwhile, distract them with something else you know they will be into. Here's you milk! Why don't you take a sip of that while I get my cereal, and then we can figure out what you want to eat? Which also brings in another thing:

- let them know in advance what the plan and schedule is. Okay, we are going to finish up breakfast, you can play for five minutes while I put the dishes away, and then we need to get your snowpants and coat on.

Of course, them being toddlers, this only helps, and only most of the time. There is, sadly, no silver bullet. We have plenty of tantrums on the bad weeks here, too, but fortunately they seem sort of cyclical.

kgirl said...

i could have written this post, except that, in a total role reversal, i seem to be the one keeping my cool while chris gets frustrated. i think it's that i'm just willing to let her take the time to get it out of her system, whereas he thinks that he has to be teaching her how to (not) behave all the time. best of intentions, but useless in the throes of a meltdown.
i like what kittenpie has to say.

NotSoSage said...

Ah, yes. I feel exactly the same way. Good-natured child the majority of the time and then a night like last night, after they'd given them chocolate and gummi worms at daycare. Arrgghh!

And I woke up to a really terrible version of "Good Morning Sunshine" on the radio yesterday morning.

Kittenpie's right. I always give Mme L a choice of two pairs of pants. It's not foolproof, because she can be not happy with either choice, but at least she knows she has one. I guess we're in for this for a while. Hang in there!

Beck said...

Hahaha. I'm currently on my third toddler and they are SO much fun. I've learned to enjoy ornery, which is likely a good thing. I don't really have any great advice beyond try not to take it personally and consider the source, you know?

Mimi said...

So much good advice! I can just say good luck, and I think we all have trouble keeping our stressed selves from taking out their frustrations on innocent bystanders ... patience is a valuable and rare commodity indeed.

bubandpie said...

This is the week for first-thing-in-the-morning tantrums. It's the "late for work" part that does it - when you're not pressed for time, it's easy enough to wait for compliance, to offer choices and incentives... All my worst moments with the kids occur when I'm trying to hurry them up.

nomotherearth said...

Metro Mama - Patio? Yes, please!

Kittenpie - Great advice! My biggest problem lately is that not only does he not want the choices I offer, he doesn't want anything at all, so I'm forced to choose for him. Then it gets ugly.

B&P - The need for speed is a huge factor! Days that we don't have to go anywhere are SO much easier. Unfortunately they're few and far between

kgirl said...

nomo - i have tagged you. you are it.

Mrs. Chicky said...

We had that same discussion, complete with the wailing, at breakfast, lunch and dinner today. My husband is very lucky he didn't come home to find my toddler's feet sticking up from a snow pile.

Sandra said...

I so get this. My son is also easy going so when he has a rough day I am totally ill-prepared. Hang in there :)

ewe are here said...

I so recognize that conversation; it's eerily similar to those I have with my almost-2 year old. Right down to the screaming protests when I get it wrong or don't do something exactly the way he wants it done.

Frustration city. And, I'm not proud to say, it can drive me absolutely batty even though I know it's a normal toddler stage ... and I find myself yelling. Sigh.

Hang in there. I'll be hanging with you.