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The Toddler, The Terror

So, I have this toddler. He will be 3 next month. And from what I’m told, 3 is a million times worse than 2 – it is, in a sense 2 perfected. Friends, this a thought that sends chills down my spine. Because I gotta tell ya, 2 has basically sucked eggs. Don’t believe me? Just read it for yourself!

Potty Training

This kid does NOT want to stop peeing in his diaper. Like, not at all. Putting my child on the toilet either leads to screaming bloody murder, flushing the toilet 27 times, or giving himself an erection – making it virtually impossible to pee anyhow. In fact, this child arouses himself basically every time his diaper comes unhooked! Now, whereas I try to discourage this behavior without shaming him, part of me wants to scream, “YOU’RE GOING TO YANK IT OFF AND PEOPLE ARE GOING TO THINK I’M A BAD MOTHER!!!!”

But instead, my kid sits there, beaming proudly at his accomplishment of making his weenie big, saying things like, “Mama! I DID it! That’s the biggest butt I ever seen!” (Because we still call our weenie a butt. Obviously, I’m going to have to homeschool my child because we are never going to be ready for kindergarten at this rate. I mean, yesterday I caught him eating a dead fly… come on!)

This week, however, I developed a Paw Patrol sticker chart. Each time he pees on the big boy potty, he gets a sticker on the chart. If he poops, he gets 2 stickers and a parade in his honor. Once each row is filled up with stickers representing his bathroom escapades, he gets candy… and yes, I am bribing my child with copious amounts of sugar. Judge me if you will, but it’s better than constant masturbation in my eyes, so your judgments mean nothing. Just saying.

We’ve had a decent amount of success with the sticker chart, although he gets awfully irrational when I don’t give him a sticker every time someone else in the house uses the restroom. After all, this isn’t a joint effort here! It’s certainly not worth the tantrums that ensue. Speaking of which…

Tantrums

Last week I missed half of my grandmother’s funeral because I had to remove my screaming/hitting/kicking son from the funeral home and literally drag him outside to the back of the building (using emergency exits that thankfully didn’t sound any alarms when I opened them). There I sat on the damp concrete in my black dress, showing all kinds of granny panty, as my kid threw rocks and screamed at the top of his lungs every time I looked in his direction. I wept like the worn-out mother that I am, silently cursing the child that I GAVE BIRTH TO and his erratic behavior that came from me. My other kids that I adopted? I don’t have to take ownership for their issues… but this kid is all mine from the DNA to the horrid behavior.

I felt like a failure for the billionth time that day.

Especially when the casket delivery man arrived and informed me that our hysterics were blocking his path to the storage room. I looked at him with racoon-smeared eyes and picked up my flailing child, trying to walk to a new location as my high heel broke underneath the weight of the two of us.

Later that day I threw my shoes away.  We repeated our tantrums and disciplines again and again for days and days – in restaurants, at the funeral luncheon, in the car, and in the house. I’m learning to view this new routine my son and I are in like I would a wild horse. We are constantly trying to break the stallion’s crazed spirit so that he can become an animal capable of fitting in with the rest of the tamed herd that is society.

It’s just not working. Yet. Which leads me to the horribleness that is the final toddler topic for today’s post…

Nap Inconsistencies

As if dealing with the little maniac all day isn’t hard enough, my child is starting to break free of his previously consistent nap schedule. THIS, my friends, may be the death of me. Because after hours of cycling this boy on and off the potty, correcting tantrums, and cleaning up the giant-sized toddler messes that he leaves in his wake, this mama is READY for naptime! That was the deal. He can act like a colossal turd for some of the day if he must, but that means I get a couple hours of reprieve in the afternoon. But now, my son is struggling to hold up his end of the bargain and I find myself crying hysterically by dinner time.

My older kids are so frightened of my hazzardness that they don’t question me when I pack lunches that consist of 3 jellos and a peanut butterless PB&J sandwich. They see the crazy unfolding before their very eyes and I believe they pity me. But if we’re looking for silver linings, they have both informed me within the last week that they will never have sex because they are scared of having children.

So there’s a parenting win.

But seriously, this child is making my brain homicidal. I mean, I am walking around like a full-fledged Lewis Black impersonator all day long, grunting out strings of nonsensical words with barely a breath to speak them.

And then, minutes later, this same kid comes up to me and tells me he loves me so much. And then we load up his dump trucks with all his farm animals and pretend to take them to the jungle… until his toy crocodile comes along and destroys all the animals and fake-chomps the truck to bits. And for some reason, this makes my son very happy and cuddly. So, we sit and hunker down in a good snuggle amidst the carnage that was his plastic livestock.

In the moment, these day to day things feel so stinking insurmountable. This stage feels like it will last forever. And I know in my heart of hearts that it won’t. But if you say that to me, I’m liable to bite your head off, cry, and then apologize (you’ve been forewarned). I know deep down that my children will all grow up and be somewhat functional in society, hopefully potty-trained, and I will no longer have the need to make crocodile sounds.

I’m told this will be a sad day. We’ll see. Either way, this moment will pass. In the meantime, I will continue to talk my brain off the ledge of insanity each day, being as consistent as possible, and attempt to be more mindful while packing lunches for the big ones. Sometimes Hope means believing that one day, life may just be boring.

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Redefining Greatness

           Each summer, I have high hopes of achieving greatness in motherhood. And each fall I realize that greatness is highly overrated. Sometime in August I become very okay with mediocrity and the whole “just keep them alive” method of parenting. (It’s okay to judge me if you must. I’m far too tired to care anyway.)

            I start out the summer being a “Yes” Mom. I tell the kids they can have the second popsicle, that they can use the playdough without supervision, that they can stay up late to catch fireflies. And by August I am back to my “No” Mom self, swiftly denying all access to Dad’s tools, things that require all of my batteries, nail polishes/paints/anything that stains, and all things that are sugar-based.

            I’m unsure why I feel that each June will be different than the last – that my children will have matured magically in the previous 9 months, that they won’t fight incessantly, or that they won’t suck my love for summer away once again. But each summer I test out my re-found optimism, only to realize that it doesn’t quite fit in with me and my special needs family. Because in a home filled with our specific kind of nuts, we don’t have the strength for continual optimism.

            No, in our home, we have roles that we hold tightly to – ones that don’t allow for much deviation from out callings. We have myself, The Enforcer – I’m the rule-setter, consequence-maker, and death-glarer. We have my husband, The Worker – the one that is gone all day and then gets to play with our spawn, giving him the extra title of The Fun One. Then there’s my oldest, The Bully. He’s the one that taunts, teases, and pinches the minute my back is turned. But its okay, because my next oldest is The Tattler, also known as The Instigator. She is the reporter of all things (necessary or not), the one that loves to hear her own voice, and the little shadow that begs to be pinched so she has something else to tattle about. And finally, we have The Toddler. He’s 2, he tantrums, and he’s supposed to be my “normal one”.

            Yeah, optimism is quickly replaced by realism each and every summer. But before you think we are too pessimistic for your taste, let me give you a glimpse into one particularly warm July day…

            The Toddler woke promptly at 6am, ensuring that he could start his energetic throwing of toys before the heat became too great. But hey, since he wasn’t throwing the toys at the dogs or the television, I continued to pay bills and do laundry before the Bigs woke up… which was naturally 20 minutes later. The rest of the morning was spent reminding children to do their morning routine, the very same routine they’ve been doing every day for years. I stared at their shocked faces when they were informed that yes, indeed, their underwear needed to be changed every day. For always.

            We did daily homework assignments to ensure that no one became stupid over the summer… this meant that I spent an hour arguing with The Tattler that 10 +23 does not equal 1023, all the while The Bully wailed that he couldn’t understand his story problem: “Billy had 18 apples and gave Tommy 6. Tommy then gave 3 apples to Judy. How many apples does Tommy now have?” Meanwhile, The Toddler ate all the crackers and screamed every time a commercial interrupted his Paw Patrol marathon.

            We finally finished all the assignments and my bills got paid (sort of) so we promptly got ready for The Tattler’s library program that morning. Only, where was my phone? I had it earlier while I did the banking, but where was it now? No worries… we found it a half hour later… in the refrigerator, courtesy of The Toddler.

            We were the family running into the library drenched in sweat, A) because we have no air conditioner and B) because we are incapable of attending any library program on time. I don’t know why and I no longer have the motivation to care. I handed my middle child over to the sweet ladies in charge as I avoided the irritated glances at their watches. The Bully began looking for a new book while The Toddler attached himself to a handful of cars at the train table.

            I sat anxiously, waiting for the inevitable tantrum that The Toddler throws each and every time we enter the library. It’s the place where he had his first injury (last summer, banged lip off the train table, bled all over their carpet), where we screamed bloody murder in the bathroom for ALL to hear (two summers ago, while trying not to smack his head off the toilet paper holder as I had to nurse him in the bathroom because I was asked not to nurse him in the children’s section), and where he continues to dominate all the toys because by being the baby of the family, it’s basically survival of the fittest.

            That day was no different. I watched in slow motion as my small child grabbed a toy away from a sweet little boy with Down’s Syndrome. The boy tried to get his toy back, but my child in turn hit him with the toy. It was like I was moving through jello, unable to run through the sea of scattered toys fast enough, when the other boy began to scream a high-pitched wail that was not only warranted, but appreciated (because, hey, it wasn’t my kid screaming for a change).

            I promptly grabbed up The Toddler, apologizing profusely as I handed my purse off to my oldest. I ran my now-screaming baby out to the parking lot as he hit and kicked, flapped and hollered. Outside it was a balmy 831 degrees and my child’s sweat was making it impossible to hold him as he raged. And, as I fought to control a person 1/4th my size in the public library’s parking lot, a police officer pulled up alongside me.

            “Everything okay, ma’am?” he asked with concern.

            Sweat dripping into my eyes, making my hair stick to my running make-up, I tried to smile as I responded, “Oh, of course! Just a bit of a toddler tantrum is all!” I made a slight attempt at a chuckle, but it ended up coming out as more of a maniacal laugh than anything.

            Twenty minutes and a two walks around the block, The Toddler was still being a jerk, but it was time to go in and claim my daughter from her program. It was then that I looked down and noticed that, amidst the struggle with my youngest, my wide-necked t-shirt somehow had managed to be pulled all the way down, underneath my left boob. I had talked with our local law enforcement and walked two blocks with my one of my breasts completely hanging out. (And no, I didn’t feel a breeze, thanks to my super unattractive full-coverage mom bra.)

            Defeated and repositioned, I threw my kid over my shoulder and marched through the library to claim The Tattler. The sweet librarians once again eyed me with fear because my child’s screaming was interrupting their announcements. I forced a smile and said something clever like, “Kids, what do ya do, right?” before grabbing all of my children and running-not-running for the door.

            We arrived home just in time for The Toddler to take a nap, which means that he pulled his weenie out and peed through his crib like a boss just before drifting off. But I didn’t care. The pee would still be there when he woke up and there was no way that I was going to wake him to change his sheets. So I turned the fan on him in an attempt to dry up some of the wetness, like any mediocre, realist mom would do.

            I came back down the stairs to see The Bully pinning down his sister as he wrenched her arm behind her back. Grabbing him up by the scruff and then swatting his bottom, I sent him immediately to his room. The Tattler proceeded to tell me that her brother had just pinned her on the ground and wrenched her arm behind her back. (Yes, thank you for stating the obvious. Would you care to do any other work for my eyes, like tell me the color of the walls or describe to me my own outfit?) But because I still had just a smidgen of Good Mom still in me, I refrained from the sarcasm and reminded her that I had just taken care of the issue, assessing her arm as we talked.

            It was then that I noticed the dog poop on the floor. Just because of life.

            Meanwhile, The Toddler was awakened from his nap by a mooing Bully who refused to calm himself down. Not that it mattered, because we had a church event to leave for and there was still the whole pee incident happening upstairs in the crib.

            All bodily secretions sufficiently cleaned, we managed to make it to the church on time. Naturally The Toddler proceeded to push down another baby in our church and scream at the top of his lungs when redirected. To keep the peace, I put him in the nursery's pack-n-play for a time-out. However, The Tattler proceeded to inform me that I was a bad mother for just leaving him to cry without getting him out. At that point, I gave her one of my infamous death glares, reminding her that she was insanely out of line and should probably keep her well-researched parenting advice to herself.

            The Bully sulked in the corner and refused to talk to anyone, The Tattler cried for being glared at, and The Toddler’s screams could still be heard 3 rooms away. It was then that a sweet friend of mine from out church mentioned that I should get my youngest checked for autism.

            Tears welled in my eyes, not at the thought that my son could have autism, but at the fact that I had already asked his pediatrician this very question and was assured that he was completely NOT autistic – leaving 2 options: He was either a terrible child, or I was a terrible mother. Either way, the tears were there and I did my best to hold them at bay while I made small talk and acted like everything was fine.

            We left the event early because… well, because I have kids.

            Upon arriving home, I noticed that the temperature had cooled ever so slightly, so I told the kids to play outside. And as I stepped through the grass to set my purse on the patio, my foot got stuck in a hole that one of the dogs had dug and my ankle painfully rolled until I heard a snap. Since I was in my own yard and there was no sense in holding back anymore, I cried until I couldn’t breathe.

            Terrified, The Tattler ran inside and got me every ice pack we own. The Bully attempted to keep The Toddler from crawling on me like I was a jungle gym… because normal toddlers take crying as a call for playtime, apparently?

            My husband arrived home minutes later to me sitting in the yard with ice packs surrounding my swollen ankle. He saw my puffy eyes and listened as I told him about the library and my boob, the police and the wrenching of the arm, the poop and the pee, the church and the hole. I told him that I was a bad mother, incapable of achieving greatness.

            After sending me to my room to recover, The Worker/Fun One played with the kids in the yard. I heard them laughing and following directions. No one pinched or peed on anything. No one screamed or tattled. Everyone just played. In the distance I could hear a dog vomiting, but I didn’t go downstairs to clean it up. It would inevitably still be there in the morning.

            Two weeks later, I went on vacation with my kids, my parents, my brother and my nephew. I did a lot of sleeping and a lot of unwinding. The Toddler only peed on things twice and my parents took over when The Tattler and The Bully got into it. I relinquished my crown as The Enforcer for almost 9 days and found myself laughing with my children. I even got to be The Fun One a few times!

            So, as August has begun to wind us down to those last few moments of summer, I am okay with my mediocre status. I realize that it doesn’t make me a failure to not reach greatness each summer. It’s okay to say “No” and to hide the hammer and nails and to take naps when The Toddler finally goes down for his afternoon sleep. It’s okay to reclaim my batteries and make bedtime earlier. And it’s certainly okay to be The Fun One sometimes.

           But whatever the role, whatever the situation, whatever the daily liquids I get to scrub… I can rest easy, knowing that I kept them alive for one more summer. And that, my friends, is greatness redefined.

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The Day The Fridge Died

Yesterday I found myself in a bit of an odd situation.  It was mid-afternoon when I found myself sitting on the kitchen floor, surrounded by scattered condiments and salad dressing and a random jar of maraschino cherries.  Looking back, I’m thinking I should’ve just tossed them out then and there.  After all, I couldn’t recall the last time we had ice cream sundaes, so they were probably expired… if items like that even do expire.  But there I sat, a broken open container of almond milk pooling towards me lazily as I glared at it through bitter tears.  In the background, my children frantically knocked on the door – the very door that I had locked moments before after banishing them into nature.  It was a mere 30 seconds before they both realized they needed to pee.

 I feel the need to explain my emotional state to you all.  

 This week was Day Camp Week for my oldest (my oldest who is on a new medication that has made him speak every thought that pops into his head… I had no idea that he was capable of thinking so frequently).  This week was also Vacation Bible School Week for our church, which I help lead.

When I first realized that both events landed on the same week, I immediately went into a state of hypervigilience.  Frantic, I planned out each hour of each day for the duration of the craziness.  Throwing in three doctor appointments, setting up for VBS, and the half-hour commute to and from day camp, all the while accounting for the toddler’s nap schedule, I estimated that I had roughly -8.65 hours to accomplish all that needed to be done for the week.

I hadn’t even started yet and I was already behind!!

Obviously this was also the week my trusty babysitter had to travel out of state for work, so I did what I had to do – I panicked and then reminded myself that it’s only a week.  And we can accomplish anything as long as we know there’s a time limit, right?

Well, that’s what I used to tell myself anyways, before this week happened, that is.

To sum it all up, here are some of the daily events that got jammed into my already crazy schedule:

 

1)      To start the week off, I stabbed myself through the middle finger of my dominant hand.  Yes, there was blood.  Yes, there was nausea and dizziness.  No, this is not what caused the refrigerator to explode its condiments all over the kitchen… that happened at the end of the week!  Using a fondue prong to poke a hole in dried up nail glue for my daughter, I accidently pierced through the top of my finger and straight out the side.  After bandaging it thoroughly, I realized that I was going to be attending VBS with the inability to bend my finger down all the way – causing me to flip off each and every parent, child, and volunteer I met.  Nothing says “Welcome To Our Church” like the worship leader giving everyone the finger.

 

2)      This week, my toddler threw a royal fit in the mall parking lot, a place where we were killing time before having to pick Cameron up from camp.  This occurred during the middle of a thunder storm, and I dropped my purse, spilling all the contents under our van.  I climbed under the vehicle to retrieve my things, coming up soaking wet and filthy... and then my shoe broke.  My new shoe.  It broke beyond repair, leaving me to go collect my son from camp a wet, muddy, shoe-less mess... and all the other parents looked at me with pity.  

 

3)      Wyatt also decided to pack his cuppy into my purse before we left the house for the day.  Only the lid wasn’t shut.  Only after setting my purse on my lap later that day did I realize that my legs were getting wet.  When I lifted the purse, RED juice dripped from the lining of my brand new bag, staining my pants AND all that was inside.  My umbrella is now pink, you guys.

 

4)      While at the store, Wyatt basically exploded in his diaper.  This occurred shortly after we realized that we’d left the diaper bag at VBS the prior night (because having no sitter, he was forced to come to VBS and eat his weight in cheese balls with the very generous ladies working the snack station!)  Seeing that the only thing we had left was a swim diaper in the van, I tried to make due.  Except a half hour later, we stood in the middle of Walmart as peed dripped down Wyatt’s legs and shoes.  And since he fell asleep on the way home, the fact that I had to change his drenched clothes completely woke him up, rendering him napless for the rest of the day.

 

5)      Taylor tried to tell me that she broke our ceramic garbage can by “looking at it”.  When I looked at her like she had 3 heads, she burst into tears, saying, “You never believe me!”  Of COURSE I don’t believe you, honey!  Because you’re 8 years old and you don’t have dark magic!!  You obviously didn’t cause the garbage can to explode with your laser-focus!  But what do I know?  I only have 2 degrees… and she can’t even spell “garbage can”.

 

6)      This week, our audio-visual system at the church decided to malfunction.  Why?  Who knows, because I have about as much technical experience as a giraffe.  I spent over an hour unplugging and re-plugging cords in, turning machines off and restarting them, calling and recalling friends that could tell me what the “little red button” does and if the “blue knobby thingys” are important or not.

 

7)      Over half of our VBS volunteers also had crazy weeks, causing most of them to cancel some, if not all, of the days they were scheduled to help out.  Luckily, we had other random people stop by the church and we sucked them into our madness (after having them fill out the necessary paperwork, of course)… not that it helped me remember several of their names.  Sadly, I ended up calling everyone Sweetie or Buddy in order to save face.  (Bur rest assured, they were needed and they stepped up, so I love them.  Whoever they are.)

 

8)      Because our church welcomes those that sometimes don’t fit in at other churches, we found ourselves on the receiving end of a group of kiddos that were “energetic”, many of whom have special needs.  Now, for the record, I LOVE that our church is this place.  I love that we open our arms to everyone and are willing to make them our family within seconds of shaking their hands.  This, quite honestly, is my favorite thing about where we worship.  But as the needs of the many flew around me like confetti in a tornado, I found myself running after AWOLing children, pulling a googly eye out of a little girl’s nose, keeping a child from pulling up little girls’ shirts, and uttering the phrase “For the last time, please stop licking your neighbors’ ears!”  And to top it off, I found a half-eaten lollipop in my purse, securely stuck to the inside lining… and we didn’t even have suckers at VBS this year.

Photo by www.scholarcenter.com

Photo by www.scholarcenter.com

 

And then, finally, as the week was drawing to a close and my sanity was waning (OK, let’s be honest, I lost it somewhere on Tuesday after my shoe broke), someone ate all the pepperoni out of our fridge.  My pepperoni.  And the VBS power point I was working on took 6 hours to do something that should've taken 20 minutes.  And did I mention Cameron’s new medication and the incessant talking?

 Friends, this is when I broke our refrigerator door.

I'm not exactly proud of breaking the fridge.  They say that it is in our moments of weakness that we find our strength.  And I did.  But there was no pepperoni and I hadn't eaten, and therefore, the fridge needed to die.

My husband returned home that afternoon and quickly surveyed the children locked outside, fear etched onto their little faces.  He cautiously unlocked the door with the key and worked his way to the kitchen.  Shattered pieces of broken plastic and food residue littered the floor.  Silently, he walked towards me as I hyperventilated at my computer, willing it to work.  Kneeling down beside me, he gently offered me a hug.

“So… are we having a rough day?” he tried.

My face still puffy from crying, my hands still shaking from anxiety, I received his hug and just let myself relax into his big arms.  When he pulled back, there was a trace of a smirk on his face.  He lovingly nicknamed me “The Hulk” before allowing the children to come back into the house and finally pee.  And I was given strict instructions to go out to eat and have some alone time.

I didn’t argue.  After all, he was right.  I needed some alone time.  I needed to regroup after all the craziness and constant running from place to place this week.

That night, four children came to know Christ at VBS.  Four small souls that didn’t know who God was now will spend their eternity with Him.    

I tell you all this because of one important thing:

In the midst of it all, It Is Well.

When VBS seems like it’s a disaster, then It Is Well.  When my purse and all its contents are ruined and I’m left shoeless and muddy, It Is Well.  When my pepperoni runs out in the middle of a low-sugar moment, then It Is  STILL Well!  (And when my husband saved me from breaking the rest of the appliances with my super-human strength, It Was most definitely Well.)

I got thinking, maybe your week has been somewhat like mine.  Maybe you've felt the stress and maybe you've lost your cool.  Maybe you've felt the pressures of having to be everywhere for everyone, doing everything and not feeling like you've got any help or like everything you touch breaks or falls apart or you have a toddler (enough said) or a child (or two) with mental health issues or behavioral needs or emotional trauma.... 

Maybe you've reached your limit this week and you think you can't possibly go on... that a day of rest cannot get here soon enough!

Even so, It IS Well.  It is so well that God gives us the right to cry and be frustrated and angry and sad without Him losing control of our situations.  He allows us to be human and emotional - and then to rest, knowing that He's got it.  He's got your kid.  He's got your job.  He's got your health.  And he's even got that relationship that's on shaky ground.  He's got YOU, Friend.  All of you, every single part.

And even if you don’t have big arms to physically rest upon, know that God’s arms are always there.  He’s holding them out to you, just like He held them out to four beautiful children this week.  Just reach out and remember that He won’t let you go… no matter how many fridges you destroy.

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Toddlers - The Littlest Jerks

 ***Warning: This Mama is kinda punchy. Proceed with caution!***

     Can we take a moment and talk about toddlers? Yes. We can. (Why? Because I'm the one writing… I choose the topic, Friends, and today, I need to rant about the small people aged 1-3!)

     Toddlers are this crazy half-breed of oversized-baby and grumpy old man, have you ever noticed that? They're partially non-verbal (which leads to a great deal of frustration for themselves and others), they walk with an awful lot of falling if there's not a supportive object to hold onto, desperately want their independence but need someone to make sure they aren't eating the deodorant again, require their food to be mashed or cut into small chunks, should wear a bib but what's the point of even trying, need some bathroom assistance (or things get pretty messy pretty quickly!), get grumpy easily and without provocation (particularly if a nap is missed), love to play with keys but probably should not be driving, have about half of their teeth, thin/fine hair, and are chunky in all the wrong parts.

     Sound familiar? It should. Because toddlers and grumpy old men make their presence known more than the average person. Seriously, my little man farted in the doctor's office today and smiled sweetly when he was finished. You know who else did the same thing? The old man about 4 seats away from us. (He, also, smiled sweetly.) My older toddler sneaks into the pantry to get junk food when no one is looking, despite being told 'No' about a thousand times. You know who else used to do the same thing when he was alive? My grandpa. Tell the man a million times that he has diabetes and can't have chocolate, and he'd pop one of those candies into his mouth, barely taking the time to unwrap it first!

     It's like toddlers are just practicing for the day when they can shuffle around the Senior Center, whacking unsuspecting people in the shins with their canes. Do you wanna know why toddlers aren't like little old ladies? Because little old ladies are NICE. Toddlers, quite frankly, are pint-sized jerks. (Ok, not all the time, but A LOT of the time!) Case in point….

     Today, I needed to go get my allergy shot. I noticed that the line was incredibly long, so I took my munchkin to the lovely air-conditioned store so we could pick up a few items while we killed a bit of time. But munchkin was not happy in the air-conditioned store. Rather, he was not happy that he had to sit in the shopping cart. He proceeded to share his dissatisfaction with the entire store, exhibited by screaming, grabbing things off the shelves and then throwing them, grabbing things out of the cart and throwing them, standing up in his cart and trying to crawl out, and smacking me every time I got into arm's reach. So… that was fun.

     To save the other patrons a headache, I let my gremlin loose on the ground. Finally… he stopped screaming. However, he did clear off the bottom racks of at least two aisles before I was able to catch him. He also shoved my cart over my sandaled toes, hit a saleswoman, and pulled down three pairs of sunglasses from a full rack, nearly toppling it as he did so. He also decided to learn the word “No” today… he practiced it loudly and frequently. He did not like it when I practiced it back.

     We finally made it to my allergist and, lo and behold, Mr. Mood Swing turned on his big cheesy grin as he shared his bag of Cheerios with a couple next to us. This was before he made a mad dash for the elevator and threw himself against the door in a screaming fit because it wouldn't open to let him inside. Once we were actually in the elevator and going back down to the 1st floor, he threw another fit because he wanted back out of the elevator. (I mean, who can argue with that kind of logic, really?)

     And what's with the irrational fears that go along with this crazy little age? Loves the vacuum cleaner but is terrified the grass. Doesn't blink an eye at fireworks but loses his mind when water touches his face. The two-year-old has also decided that fear shall rule his world without reason. He's decided to be terrified of clouds. Why? Because he's afraid that every cloud he sees will bring thunder. And how do you explain to a toddler that white clouds on a sunny day and storm clouds on a rainy day are different? Oh, you can't. Don't even try. Because either way, whatever the cloud-type, this is what you'll get….

     This is followed by sobs and half-prononced words like “FUNDER!” and “POWER!” He also believes that every evening, the power goes out. Why? Because the sun goes away. Nevermind that our lights still turn on… we have lost power. Plain and simple. And if you dare suggest catching lightening bugs outside, be prepared for a short-legged little man to go barreling past you at full speed, holding his ears and screaming “FUNDER!” the whole way. (Please. For the love of God. Call them fire flies!!)

     In order to make a little more rational sense out of the picture, my husband offered up this beautiful portrait as a replacement.

At least this would make sense, right??

At least this would make sense, right??

     I'd like to say that it'll be better when they're older, but I have two older children, so I know that's a lie. And I'm pretty sure I've never met a rational teenager, so that's probably out of the question, too. One thing is for certain: children do NOT get more lucid as they age. It appears that people show small amounts of rational hope somewhere around mid-life, but then it's back to that half-breed we spoke of earlier.

     So, until mid-life, I'll keep picking up thrown objects, hugging in between punches, and devouring the shared Cheerios… even if they are slimy and covered in dog hair.

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