From crazy in love to just plain crazy

Eve, 2, just spent three days at her Papa and Grandma Jane’s farm. I missed her like crazy.

Within two hours of her homecoming today, I really wondered why.

She hadn’t gotten much of a nap, so she was whiny and tempermental. She threw a couple fits and wouldn’t listen when I asked her to come to the dinner table. I suddenly longed for another child-free day.

My husband and I had made the most of our couple time. We went to a movie, watched a Twins game while sitting in the restaurant bar, and even slept in one day. I got a lot of work done. But the whole time, from the moment she got into Papa’s car, our hearts also ached. When I gave Eve a goodbye hug, she actually said, “You go home and cry now.” It was sooo funny, a from-the-mouths-of-babes quote. I have no idea where she came up with it, but it was pretty darn close to the truth.

We called her once each day she was gone. And oh, how my heart swelled when she reached out for me once she was back  home. She snuggled close and we giggled, both so happy to see each other. I asked her all about her time at the farm. She really liked my new fuzzy slippers.

That same afternoon, she threw her glasses across the room and told me to leave her alone.

How is it these little ones can stir so much love and so much frustration in us nearly simultaneously? How can I miss her like crazy one moment, and be driven crazy by her the next?

Nothing baffles me more than this parenting contracdiction.

Looking for terrific part of the twos

My Parenting Perspectives column from March 16 …

This week, we enter the “terrible twos.” Eve’s second birthday is Friday.

I’ve been turning that alliterative phrase around in my head a lot lately, wondering why this particular year of life has been deemed so dreadful, and why it’s inspired someone to create an online calculator that counts down the number of days, hours and minutes until your child isn’t 2 anymore.

Obviously, there are the temper tantrums. We’ve been dealing with some of that “terrible” behavior for months.

Eve had her first full-blown public meltdown at 18 months, pulling my hair so hard tears sprung to my eyes. We left the children’s clothing store straight away, leaving the size 2T jeans I’d picked out in the middle of the aisle.

To think the willful behavior begins at 2 is naïve. And to declare an entire era of a child’s life “terrible” is awfully defeatist. I feel like it sets parents up for a year of torment.

There is a lot of wonderfulness that happens during the second year, too. And it all stems from the same place: a toddler exerting her independence.

The twos are a time of exploration and learning, of testing boundaries and limits. Toddlers test you. They say “no,” repeatedly. They scream. And hit. And bite. It’s frustrating, at best.
Other times, this exploration is awe-inspiring. I’m amazed every day by what my daughter absorbs.

The way she mimics me talking on the phone or putting on lipstick. How she can point out landmarks while we drive around town. She now remembers things that happened days, even weeks ago.

As each week passes, she’s able to do something she couldn’t do the week before, like take off her coat by herself or sing another nursery rhyme.

Sure, there will be battles of will this year. Tempers will flare. Tears will flow. I need to establish routines, set limits, discipline inappropriate behavior. We’ll tackle potty training, a messy hurdle for every new parent.

But I’m choosing to look at this optimistically. My toddler is developing, learning about the world and herself.

Is that so terrible?

Sherri Richards is mother of an almost 2-year-old daughter and employee of The Forum. She’s also “Top Mom” at http://moms.inforum.com

Terrible One-and-a-Halfs?

I got into what many men would dub a cat fight yesterday, complete with hair-pulling and face slapping.

Except it was with my 18-month-old daughter, during her first full-blown, public temper tantrum. For any of you at Once Upon a Child yesterday: Yeah, that was me.

I went to the gently used children’s clothing store hoping to pick out a Halloween costume for Eve (trying to beat the rush), as well as some 2T jeans and size 5 shoes (trying to keep up with my ever-growing daughter).  I thought Eve could play in the toy section while I perused the nearby costume rack. But she quickly found a push toy, meaning I needed to chase her as soon as she got out of sight, steer her back toward the toy section and repeat. This was not effective, as more time was spent chasing and steering than perusing.

I tried putting her in the walled-off play area. That lasted about 13 seconds. 

I picked her up. “GET DOWN GET DOWN GET DOWN GET DOWN GET DOWN,” she wailed.

I held on tight, determined to look at the costumes one more time.

That’s when the hair pulling started.  She grabbed onto my ponytail and yanked so hard tears sprung to my eyes. I had to pry her hands from my hair. (I’m surprised I don’t have a bald spot.)  She wailed and flailed and made me feel like that mother.  The one who has no control over her child.

I dropped the few articles of clothing I’d collected and we left.

We had a fitful ride home, followed by a daylong battle of the wills over beverages.

“APPLE JU APPLE JU APPLE JU,” she’d cry. “You already had a glass of juice today. You can have water or milk,” I’d say. “APPLE JU APPLE JU APPLE JU.” Sigh.

It took all my will and about 349 deep breaths to keep my composure through it all.  And it’s only just beginning.

We’ve got another 6 months until Eve turns 2, when the terribleness is supposed to start.

I have no idea when I’ll be able to get her shoes that fit or a Halloween costume.

But right now, a cat outfit seems like an appropriate choice.