Sunday, November 10, 2013

Look Who's Talking (...Too)

Calliope has a special fondness for the word "too," and likes to sprinkle into sentences wherever she can. So, for example, if I'm doing something, she says, "I help you, too." Even though she's just "helping," not "helping too." She also likes to invite me to do things with her, like going to her bedroom, "Mommy come, too?" (Where a simple "Mommy come?" would suffice.)

A phrase that can be funny, or decidedly unfunny, depending on my mood, is "Give it back to me!" With or without a "please" tacked on to the end. She uses this even when it's something of mine that she's never had. It sounds very grown up and obnoxious, which sometimes cracks me up. Just because I'm not used to hearing this sort of mature attitude from my twenty-six month old.

Yesterday she woke up from her two hour afternoon nap in a foul mood. She kept asking for "the pink medicine" (amoxicillin), which she has grown to love, especially because she gets a square of dark chocolate for cooperating (I tried other rewards, like Skittles, but my girl likes her dark chocolate... she gets her good taste from her mother, I suppose). And it was too early for her medication, so I would say, "you can have it at dinnertime." And then she would ask for her chewable vitamin -- "the purple medicine" (even though the color varies from pink to orange to purple) and I would say, "You already had your vitamin today. You can have another one tomorrow."

I read this blog post once, by a single dad, I think. And he said he tried to challenge himself to never use the word "no" in response to a request from his child. But to try to find a way to say yes, no matter what. And I've been trying to do that. So it's "yes, you can have your vitamin... tomorrow" or "yes, we can go to the playground... tomorrow" or "you can have some milk if you're still hungry (after choosing to skip dinner)." And it usually works brilliantly.

But nothing was working yesterday. She was a flailing, sobbing, screaming, melting mess. I tried. I tried so hard. From the moment she woke up, crying. I tried emphasizing. And rocking. And distracting. And nothing worked.

And with one last screaming of "give it back to me!" I was done. After forty-five minutes of effort, I was all used up. And pissy and resentful. I was trying so hard to be nice, dammit, and I deserved to be treated better than that.Trying to get her out the door to the bike store and her refusing to put on her coat, to put on her shoes, to sit in the bike seat. I scooped her up and dumped her in her crib. With her shoes on. And shut the door. Firmly. Leaving her screaming in the dark.

And went to the living room and played the banjo for a few minutes. It felt like a long time, but I'm sure it was less than five minutes.

She stopped screaming and started to sob "all done. All done please." So I went back to her room and picked up. I carried her back to the living room to try to get ready to leave again. She asked for medicine, again. I said, "No Calliope. I'm not having this conversation with you again."

Commence screaming.

Toddler is unceremoniously scooped up and dumped back into the crib in the dark room.

More screaming. Then sobbing "all done" again.

I returned once again. She held up her arms to be picked up and did not ask about medicine again.

Thank god.

She did, however, ask about chocolate. But didn't melt down this time when I said no.

I offered a ride in a baby carrier, and she gratefully accepted. Still refused to put on her coat, but I reasoned that being snuggled against me and inside a heavy carrier would keep her warm.

So I carried her on my chest -- couldn't get her on my back with my thick fleece coat -- and wheeled the bike. My back was aching after a few blocks. Leaning over the bike with twenty-four pounds of lanky toddler on my front was exhausting. And then the bike store was closed.

But by the time we were heading back, she had cheered up, and consented to sit in the baby seat of the bike. Phew. And we got back upstairs and inside the apartment and she started chatting as if nothing had happened.

And for the first time, I held a grudge. I didn't want to chat. I wanted her to go to bed. I was mad. I didn't like being screamed at.

But I dutifully fed her -- finally, many hours after her last meal, she agreed to eat -- she picked carrots with hummus and apple slices with peanut butter as her dinner, and I readily agreed. And put her to bed afterwards, completely exhausted.

I don't ever remember being so frustrated with my child before. I've never seen her in a tantrum like this before. Just fully, completely, 100% out of control. She's lost it before, definitely, but not in a protracted way like that. I've no idea if the crib time out was the right thing to do or not, but it was clear that we both needed a break and since she loves her crib, I don't think she was traumatized.

Luckily we both got a good night's sleep and all was happy between us today. But that feeling of frustration and anger was not a welcome one. I hope we don't experience that again soon.


  1. Felix started saying "no" last week and has been objecting to almost everything over the past 48 hours. It's exhausting, and he's only 18 months! I feel like I've started to get a sneak peek at age 2. The crib time out is great. I've done the same when Felix just needed to nap but was throwing a fit, and sure enough he ends up falling asleep.

  2. Sorry you had such a rough night. Toddlers can be so exasperating sometimes! Thankfully they seem to forget and move on from these episodes fairly quickly...unlike us!

  3. Ahhh. Welcome to the land of the terrible two's. Elsie and I have been in it for about 2 months. Thus the lack of posts (If you can't say something nice...). I find a mix of "stick to your guns" in other words give her the boundaries she is looking for and compromising (Elsie already has asked my for "compomizes"). Good luck and have a glass of wine!! I swear it helps!!

  4. Oh yuck. So that's what I have to look forward to in a year?? :( I'm sorry it was such a rough day. Hopefully it hasn't happened again, and won't.

  5. Those sorts of days are the worst - when you do everything "right" and yet your toddler still isn't cooperating. The crib time out was brilliance, I think.