Put a Bib on It

10 Things I Hate About My Toddler

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We're both going to need therapy if we survive the toddler years.She tears books. On purpose. I’ve given her magazines to tear to get that sensory experience out of her system and we’ve talked extensively about how our books are special, but I’m pretty sure at this point she does it because it makes me batty. Short of taking all of her books out of her room, which I just can’t do given she’s had access to her lovingly curated collection since she was able to reach them, I don’t know how to get her to stop.

She hits her baby sister. When I was growing up we had a terrier who used to drive moles out of their burrows and play with them until they died. My dad would joke that our dog wasn’t malicious, she just loved hearing the sound they made when she pounced on them. I think this is a lot like that.

She doesn’t believe in naps. Despite the fact that she turns into a gremlin around four o’clock in the afternoon, I just can’t get this girl to nap anymore. I suppose I should be grateful she’s at least willing to play quietly in her room for an hour or so, but when my own personal witching hour coincides with hers? Bad news.

Okay, so that wasn’t ten things. Forgive the provocative title, but with the way I’ve been feeling lately, I’m a little relieved that I was able to stop after three.

There was a moment not too long ago when I was commiserating with a fellow mama of a just-turned-2-year-old about all of the unusual and sometimes out of control behaviors we were suddenly contending with. But I realize now that these aren’t abnormal behaviors. This is our new normal for the next year, at least, and probably a good deal longer. I am not prepared. I’m beginning to think parents don’t really need newborn care classes so much as they need toddler care classes. Or a membership to some wine of the month club.

Miss E is an absolute delight about seventy percent of the time. She tells me stories. She helps me in the kitchen. She problem solves. She sings all of the songs she knows all together, one leading right into the next. Just the other day when she was supposed to be napping, she retrieved her slippers from one of her dresser drawers, put them on, and could be seen leafing through one of her favorite books in bed on the monitor.

And the other thirty percent? I’m concerned one or both of us is going to need serious therapy to repair whatever damage we’re doing to each other.

I’m sure I could do a better job of helping her with her big emotions, if only I could figure out what to do with mine. I always say it’s okay to feel mad or sad, and demonstrate those feelings in front of her – and because of her – a whole lot more than I’d like. We talk a lot about hurt feelings and hurt bodies, we cry and we spend a few minutes apart from each other at least once a day. I try to offer her choices; I tell her what she can’t do but also when she can smack or bite, when she can scream and kick. It doesn’t work often enough to make me feel like I’m not failing her. I feel powerless.

But I try to remind myself that my love for her is powerful, and that it guides me and what I do. At the end of the day I don’t hate a single thing about her, only a handful of the things she does that she hopefully won’t do forever if I keep repeating and modeling and being as consistent as my own erratic heart will allow. And that has to count for something, right?

Author: Jillian Kuhlmann

Mama. Nerd. Writer.

6 thoughts on “10 Things I Hate About My Toddler

  1. Toddlers are a special kind of torture. Hang in there! 🙂

  2. This makes me feel better tonight. I often remind myself that as long as love is the most overwhelming sentiment,that’s what prevails,and that’s what they remember. I can have strong emotions too;we aren’t made of stone..and hopefully those strong emotions are a good indicator that we care about what we’re doing.

  3. For the last couple years, when Jericho has done something unkind (most often directed toward his sister), we’ve tried to take him aside and have a conversation about what he did, why he did it and how his actions made the other person feel. And how he needs to think before he acts. I cannot tell you how many times it felt like we were just beating our heads against the wall. We would have the same conversation over and over and over again, and nothing would change. But recently (the past month or two), I’ve started to notice changes. One time I saw Jericho raise his hand and make a fist to hit Anna after she took a toy he was playing with, but then a look came across his face and he lowered his hand. Of course, he still chased his sister to retrieve the stolen toy. But he didn’t hit her. Baby steps, right? After the incident was resolved, he told me, “I was going to hit her, but then I thought about it so I didn’t.” It was like the clouds parted and angels started singing. Finally! He had been listening all those dozens and dozens of times we were telling him to think before he acts.

    All this to say that while teaching toddlers to be kind, considerate human beings is hard work that takes Freaking Forever, E will get there. It takes persistence and patience and a commitment to the long haul (which you have, no doubt). But she’ll get there. She’s listening. She hears you when you explain to her to not hit baby sister, or rip books, or XYZ. You are a good mom, even if you lose your temper sometimes. It happens to all of us. And hey, all our kids can go to therapy together 🙂

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