Oh dear friends of mine on the inter webs, I’m losing my mind. I’m tired, and I’m frustrated, and I’m feeling like a lousy parent. Apparently, we’ve entered the fabled ‘terrible twos.’
Up until 2 weeks ago, give or take, kidlet was a joyful and amenable child. He happily (for the most part, nothing is ever perfect) got undressed for bath time, and into his jammies for bed. And he’d pick out his clothes in the morning without much fuss. He might have wanted a little extra time at the playground, or one more book at bedtime, but really, where’s the rush in life? I could deal with that.
We went to California on vacation over Christmas, and he had a great time. No bedtime, haphazard naps, tons of stimulation, more tv than I’ve watched in 15 years…it was his own personal amusement park. So when we got home and started to bring back the routine, there was resistance. I understand that, no one likes to come back from all that fun and have to get up in the morning. The time change from West to East is a killer. It takes me days to adjust. So I figured after a few days, he’d adjust and be back to ‘himself.’
And then he stayed up one night with a croupy cough. And then a few days later spiked a pretty good fever. So he stayed home from daycare with me. And we lounged around in our pjs, and routine was relaxed. And then one morning he didn’t want to get dressed, or go outside, or have his diaper changed. Any of the stuff one must do with a toddler on a regular basis. But I chalked it up to still adjusting from vacation, and then not feeling well because he was sick.
It’s been two weeks y’all. EVERY.SINGLE. diaper change, wardrobe change, bath time, and change of scenery (inside to outside, outside to inside) has been met with fervent, “No, I don’t wanna…” and tears.
And I don’t know what to do. At first I stepped back. Figured it would work itself out. It used to be that if he didn’t want to do something, and I walked away from it, in a minute or two he’d decide to do whatever it was on his own, and we could go on our merry way. Well, that failed miserably. That approach got me 2 hours of trying to get my kid dressed and out the door before finding success. I’m sure I’m not the first person this has happened to, but damn…I’m unequipped.
I didn’t want to hold him down to get him dressed, or undressed. I don’t want to parent him that way. I don’t want to restrain him, or raise my voice to him, or let my frustration with the situation get the best of me. But I couldn’t figure anything else out. So, for nearly 2 weeks, I’ve been pulling clothes off a screaming, crying, kicking two year old. AND I HATE IT. I hate it. It makes me want to cry. And, I think it’s become it’s own reward.
I’m afraid that the dynamic of conflict has become a reinforcement of the behavior. And, dear Maude, does that worry me.
WHAT DO I DO? How do I fix this? How do I change this? How do I peacefully guide my kid into a much needed diaper change?
Sometimes I think, well…does he have to get dressed? What’s the harm in him going out in his pjs? It’s cold out, but we have shoes that fit over them, and a coat is a coat is a coat. College kids everywhere have adopted pjs as a sort-of uniform, why can’t my kid? Stop fighting this battle. But then I think, I can’t send my kid to daycare every day in his jammies. It’s not their job to get him dressed. And why should I abdicate responsibility for something that I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to do because it’s easier for me. If he wants to sleep in the clothes that we somehow managed to get him into that morning, so what? Dirt washes off sheets just as easily as it does clothes and bodies. No big deal. How many days would he go in the same clothes?
There’s the diaper thing though. We flirted with potty learning a few weeks ago, but it was short lived. He started to fight it, so we decided to wait and try again later. He’s still not expressing any interest in using the potty – so he HAS to have his diaper changed about 4 times a day. It’s not really negotiable. And I hold him down. MOAR BATTLE PLEASE.
We’ve tried distracting him – it used to work like a champ. “Look! Shiny object! Ooohhh!” but now, he’s pretty much on to us. A friend of mine suggested some Yo Gabba Gabba segments that are available on You Tube, and those have helped a great deal the last 2 days. And I might be willing to use those until he moves out, if I have to. But I also feel like I should (I loathe that word, but it’s exactly how I feel) be doing something differently. I guess I feel that way mostly because I don’t like how I do feel. Which is frustrated, and tired, and sort of like a crappy parent.
So, those of you who have come before me – what advice do you have for this struggling mama?
I hear there are boarding schools for toddlers in Europe….
(Also, I’m quite confident I’m not a lousy parent. I just feel…ill equipped to deal with this new challenge so it makes me feel all crappy and sucktastic.)