A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Tag Archives: typical toddler behavior

Feelin’ the Love

There are truly delightful moments with my children, especially my soon to be threenager. Warrior Queen is ten-months and not really mobile, so most of her life’s navigation is exceptionally cute. Right now I relish the floodingly moist baby kisses and the way she will rest her head on my chest at times when I hold her. It is a sign of affection I will miss once it vanishes. It’s usually prompted when I provide smooches to her cheek. Once she’s sufficiently speckled, often she rewards me with multiple cheek sucklings in return or a resting hug. My daughter is much freer with her affectionate efforts, and I’ve found it my mission to preserve that in her…as well as her determination to assert her needs with the force meriting a, suffragist lady. And, if I’m honest, I’d prefer her to be a bad ass Black/African American suffragist lady, because they were the strongest among the group. With my fierce girl, it’s all pretty much swoon worthy. Little Man within the context of his independence and control assertions, swings his disposition pendulum to the extreme sides of the arc.

The other day he was so terribly sweet to his baby sister. He often is, but it is usually misguided with all of his attempts to be kind or helpful. He tries to cuddle Warrior Queen…by sitting or laying on her for a hug. He shares toys, but ripping from her hands the one she is in the process of enjoying, replacing it with a different toy she has no desire for. He will often help me clean…after making his various puzzle pieces rain confetti all over the sitting room area. Mr. Man will retrieve his own food…by climbing up the ladder that is our refrigerator shelving. His drinks are within easy access. But, this particular day he asked me to hug and snuggle his baby sister, telling me that he has to be gentle. True to his word he nuzzled and wrapped his arms around her so delicately, and my heart swelled. We read many books to prepare Little Man to be a big brother…he still enjoys them, attempting to enact every strategy listed. Sometimes he will become particularly frustrated when denied something he sees as his obligation. Following his lovely hug, my sweet boy asked me to feed his fierce sister. He tore a piece of his toast, showing me before lightly placing it in her eager mouth.

Several instances throughout that same day, and with increasing frequency in general, my son selected a favorite book of his he memorized, and sat next to Warrior Queen, reading each page with the same inflection in which I read each tale. If I didn’t know better, I would think he was an almost three-year-old reading prodigy. My daughter always seems to prefer my son’s literary touch to mine; she’ll gaze at him enamored while he concentrates on each page. The only time I have her undivided attention with a story is while she is eating.

But, of all of his growing and independence pursuits I’ve been expecting him to turn away from me…seeking to understand his world. Elements of that exist, certainly, but I’m surprised to find that my son turns to me more than he did when he was his sister’s age. Last night for example, Little Man’s latest pursuit to delay his bedtime is “two minutes” to lay in our bed. He doesn’t ask his father. This is a delay tactic reserved entirely for me…because he knows I’m a sucker for a snugglefest, and last night did not disappoint. My sweet boy cuddled into me as we shared my pillow, under three blankets. Upon his initiation we had multiple rendition exchanges of stating how much we love each other, “Love you too,” “Love you,” “I love you so much.” The final version particularly impressive, as Little man confuses I and you within his increasingly sophisticated sentences and requests. Furthermore, this was the first time he really told me he loves me. Prior he would say, “Love you too,” but that is something he’s repeated from my utterances…probably directed toward his daddy. I suppose he’s heard the other versions as well, but it’s never been like this. I suppose a piece of this was to delay sleep, but some day…probably soon…these efforts will stop. He will turn away from me as he grows into a man. But, these moments are mine for as long as I have them, and hopefully they will sustain me for the drought that is to come.

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Routines, Rituals, and Other Things that Go Bump…All Day

I don’t have a vast familiarity with toddlers. Experiencing my son I can’t specifically speak to what is considered average development and what isn’t…for better or worse. He is two years-eight-months-old, and mostly garden variety, but I fully understand the compulsion to assume his growth weighs heavily as strokes of brilliance. Little Man constantly floors me with his leaps in development, but I’ve learned that’s what these stages are. That said, the limited number of professionals who’ve interacted with my son confirmed the few areas I thought were advanced or, at least, more unique to him.

I’ve observed and been told that Little Man is quite skilled in taking turns and sharing…to the point that he doesn’t understand when another child walks up and steals an object out of his hand. He never seems particularly disturbed when it happens, but will stare off befuddled for a beat before walking away to find an alternate source of entertainment. My son tells jokes and is chatty…telling stories to me throughout the day, especially relaying moments he was in trouble. I find this development funny considering his speech delay. Little Man looks to engage others in conversation; professionals working with him say that is unusual for a child his age.

Most interesting, however, is my son’s fairly sophisticated emotional intelligence. Little Man, probably beginning in the nine-month-old realm, possessed an uncanny ability to read others, and significantly alter his behavior and personality to what he correctly perceives others expect from him. Much of the time this serves as a manipulation tactic, and boy is it effective. Other times it seems to meet no other purpose than an intellectual exercise I find disturbing.

Part of this innate ability makes him fairly rigid and sensitive to shifts in his routines. I don’t have an overly complicated routine to our days, but any shift in what Little Man can expect from people and events leaves him struggling if the deviation is more than a day, two if I’m lucky. Some of this, I suspect, is simply toddler. But, I’ve heard early childhood workers in various capacities refer to Little Man as an “observer” or an “organizer.” It isn’t so much I think this merits a diagnosis, rather a personality quirk that makes him who he is.

But, with his need for routines and rituals and his ability to size up his world comes the price of anxiety. I wouldn’t say it amounts to a diagnosis, but times like the recent holiday season I’m reminded of how sensitive Little Man is to changes in his world, even when the change is fantastic and exciting.

At the ripe old age of nine-months, I noticed my son’s personality would change when we had extended visitors or his routine was off for too long. Some of it is age appropriate, but there were changes beyond the fussiness or lack of sleep that so many of my friends describe. Little Man’s temperament and general nature would shift in unexpected ways, but not globally. He would change his mode of interacting based on whoever was the primary personality in the room at any given moment, regardless if my husband or I were in his sights at the time. It’s difficult to describe this long out, and I would assume it was in my head if I hadn’t had practitioners working with toddlers relay what I suspected was a pretty interesting skill.

This brings me to the two week hell that was the holiday season. Family had been in the area, and my husband took the week off. It’s all so thrilling. But, each time Little Man encounters a wave of such excitement, it throws him. His behaviors more concerning as he’s grown older. Most glaring this time around was the aggression. Historically, he’s consistently demonstrated gentle hands with his sister outside the exceptionally occasional snafu easily explained by hunger or fatigue. There have always been independent bouts of jealousy, but Little Man usually has the ability to keep himself contained. And, really, once I read him a story or two on my lap, he’s good to go. Throughout the two week holiday span, however, I worried any time he was around his eight-month-old baby sister. Hardly an encounter occurred without my son pushing or hitting the Warrior Queen. I’m used to seeing an uptick of impulsive and rough behavior when my husband is around, but the incidents escalated dramatically in frequency and intensity.

Sure, during tantrums I might be slapped in the thigh, but twice my son slugged me in the eye without provocation. The biting was out of control as well. Usually such events are reserved for those moments when we pushed out bedtime too long. As the days wore on, it was rare to have his mouth remotely close to skin contact without a biting incident. The entirety of the situation left me flummoxed. My son is a sweet, kind soul who is patient and tolerant, all the more for a toddler.

Frustratingly, the peanut gallery dismissed this crop of behavior incidents as standard toddler practice. The entire span of time that Little Man continued to spiral I asserted he was struggling…all of the excitement and change was too much for him. I defended that these events were not how he navigates his world when the three of us are doing our thing. No one believed me. I began doubting myself…maybe he really is this aggressive. Maybe he is changing, and it is for me to adapt, levering my head from the sandy beach I’d grown to love.

Toward the end of the uproar, I had a couple moments when it was only our threesome…maybe just me and Little Man. They were brief and achingly far between, but I’d have glimpses of the existence I was beginning to lose to the recesses of my memory. I worried if we would return once the world settled, but they were a welcome reprieve even they amounted to be fleeting.

As I write this post we are almost a week out from the avalanche of activity. I’ve come to understand that just as easily as Little Man swings to the reckless, he soars back to the son I know. Within a day we returned to our life…flare ups of impulsivity when he’s hungry or tired…or Daddy is home. Once again I enjoyed our outings, watching my son explore his world in delight. All as though nothing had ever changed, nothing occurred.

I enjoy it when I’m right, but perhaps relief is more apt this time around.

Socrates, Shakespeare, Ellison, García Márquez, and a Toddler

My a-little-over-two-year-old son is finally speaking.  Expectedly, some of his language is clear to anyone, and some of it only becomes clear to me after several renditions of the speech pattern and a lucky guess.  Receptive comprehension was never an issue, but my husband and I took full advantage of his inability to repeat our commentary, which I know is problematic moving forward, yet I continue to offer my invaluable insight on social happenings, politics, or random life observations peppered with a host of colorful and creative terminology to anyone who will listen.  Maybe it’s the hormones; maybe it’s the sleep deprivation, but I’m not all that motivated to censor myself.

Sometimes when an adult asks Little Man a question he will provide a quick, “Yes,” and sometimes he means what he uttered.  And, there are those times when the gravity of his agreement supersedes a simple affirmative acknowledgment.  When asked if he enjoyed his time at a park, for instance, he provides a low key and dragged out, “Oh,” accompanied by a concerned and serious facial expression appropriate for the conversational setting.  It’s adorable.  But, neither my husband nor I knew how he came to develop such a sweet and funny articulation…until last weekend.  I do that, but decidedly less cute and endearing.  So, I’ll remember this example when my luck finally expires, and my son joins the masses of toddlers expressing their unique identities…by expressing a parent’s.

Growing Pains

I lament my children growing older.  Even my warrior queen, short of three-months is aging too rapidly.  Only yesterday was she barely awake, now expresses preferences to be active, observing our household happenings.  My son asserts his increasing desire for independence.  It seems too soon he will no longer want me hovering, and perhaps that day is already upon me.  But, my humble plea to both, please, don’t hurry your current youth…I’m much too tired for the next step that approaches.

Three-years-old is supposed to be the earliest time for boys to begin their expressed desire to use the toilet like the rest of us.  Really?  My son is barely over the two-year mark.  It’s too soon for him to rip off his soiled diapers onto our carpet.  It’s too soon for Little Man to indicate he left a duce in his all-in-one undies for me to clean.  I am much to tired and ill prepared to begin the process of toilet training.  It was bad enough my son started walking and insisting on feeding himself.  The catastrophe left in his wake after those benchmarks will pale in comparison to trails of dung all over the house.  My kid is a seriously prolific pooper; I feel blessed if I only change his substantial diaper chips three times a day.

To make matters worse, my daughter isn’t sleeping as much.  Sure, her plentiful smiles are breathtaking, but they are sprinkled among strong stipulations to be cuddled.  I don’t think I have the energy and general wherewithal  to manage a potty training toddler in the midst of a sleep regression and an infant choosing to progress into consciousness in a timely manner.  It’s heartbreaking; they just grow up much, much too fast…

Twenty/Twenty Vision

I’ve been confidently predicting for months, possibly longer, that my daughter will arrive early.  This final trimester has been grandly terrible on many levels, diabetes aside, so maybe my proclamations are more wishful thinking.

My son was about a week-and-a-half early, and the Warrior Queen’s belly benchmarks have been about three to four weeks ahead of his, particularly her movements.  This began my ponderings of her arrival as early as fourteen weeks.

I’m thirty-seven weeks in a day, and I’ve been increasingly confident that this will end very soon, but, again, wishful thinking perhaps turning more urgent?  The last two days, however, give me pause to think about her near future; I’d been telling myself her likely arrival would be in the thirty-eight week realm.  Now I wonder if it’s sooner.  The interesting thing about labor is that it is really something only confirmed once it occurs.  That said, with my son I had suspicions when I experienced a day of odd movements that he would be arriving soon…My water broke at three in the morning, less than twenty-four hours later.  What is happening right now is not so distinct, but maybe it is.  We’ll see.

The Warrior Queen has been in position for a long time now, and been attempting with great fervency to push through my belly.  Two days ago the same pushing was occurring at the very floor of my pelvis…quite comfortable naturally…  That first day of oddity was the longest and most consistent duration of this intense heavy pushing downward; it continues to occur, but yesterday wasn’t as persistent or enduring throughout the day.  Then there is the cramping.  A good amount of it two days ago and yesterday morning.  The rest of the day it was absent.  Cramping for the second day colors the picture of the sensation as a three in the morning experience, how lovely…I didn’t need sleep anyway…

Most interestingly has been the change in Little Man’s behavior the last two days.  He’s always been impressively perceptive even at two-years-old, so I wonder if he senses something.  My son is a toddler, so tantrums are par for the course, but his morning meltdowns before we leave the house have had a different feel.  The rest of the day tantrums are odd as well.  Historically they predictably occur when he is tired; silly, impulsive behavior that prompts me to sigh with annoyance, especially when all I can think about is a snack or lunch.  There are others when he is frustrated, but there isn’t anything that befuddles me.  My bewilderment with his tantrums are more due to the intense nature of his abhorrence for small, random things that pass as suddenly as their onset.  The last two days my son has been destructive whenever we are alone, and he is angry unlike anything I’ve seen from him.  He’s started hitting and even scratching me at times when I lift him during a moment of stubborn refusal.  Even when upset he has never been aggressive out of anger; it’s always been an overkill of silliness.  From anger my son will suddenly move to random acts of cuddling and sweetness that surpass his typical gestures.  While consistently loving, the last two days carry with it an increase of spontaneous hugs and snuggling on the sofa that previously only occurred when he was becoming sleepy in the evenings, but even then the behavior was fairly rare.

The moments of sweetness have a certain desperation to them that I have trouble describing.  I retrieved him from a nap, as a sweet example I want to remember; he was inconsolably upset, but adorable in his mismatched jammies and affray hair that is starting to curl because it is getting too long.  We sit on my desk chair and watch recordings of his life’s moments; a favorite of his when he was six-months-old, gregarious laughter because of wind in the autumn trees.  Little Man sat on my lap, laying his head on a bare section of my chest, limbs burrowed in, hands clutching my shirt collar, watching himself on repeated cycles; periodically looking up at me with a wide smile before resuming his position.  He remained in that state for ten minutes, but as uncomfortable as my back felt, I wanted to remain that way forever holding him into me.

My odd, off feeling a couple of days ago transformed into feeling pretty great yesterday, and seems to be continuing today…struggling to breathe aside.  Even with now two days of little sleep, I feel surprisingly energized and awake.

From my appointment yesterday I learned that I am dilated two centimeters, but my walls are still thick; fairly meaningless data.  Labor could come at any time.  My insulin was increased the other day, but my fasting level remained almost too high.  Yesterday I saw the Atlantis of a mid seventies level.  I was told that might be an indication of approaching labor…or a problem with my placenta requiring eventual induction.  Yesterday’s fasting level, however, seems to be a fluke.  This morning the level was in the mid eighties, which is still a good amount lower, but nothing impressive or interesting.

In the end all of these things are the tea leaves I’ve been drinking.  The beautiful thing about it is I’ll know the outcome soon enough…well, maybe not soon enough, but soon.

 

 

Catastrophic Atrocities and the End of the World as We Know It!

A typical morning in the life of experiencing a toddler with the number of personalities that would make Sybil cower in shame.  My little man is very sweet and loving so much of the time, but then there are moments, and they are moments, peppered throughout the day when all happiness grinds to a halt and ruination overcomes his beautiful face.

This morning he ate breakfast as he normally does…simultaneously shoving multiple chunks of strawberries in his mouth and grinning at me while making it rain cereal all over the floor.  He eats what he eats and scampers off to play.  I want to hurry us out the door, so the cereal explosion will wait until later.  I bide my time until he is distracted before clearing his breakfast plate, but it seldom works.  Mr. Man glances up and spies me covering the plate of remaining strawberries he proclaimed he no longer wants, as well as restoring his milk cup to the fridge.  Well, apparently what actually happened is I kicked a puppy and urinated on a kitten because a screaming blur of two-year-old runs at me, tugging my shirt and pleading with me.  If he had the vocabulary I’m sure he would be making the case that the milk should spoil and I should leave the pieces of strawberries on the table to turn into potpourri.  But, it isn’t just that he is upset with my actions that is always astounding, but the instantaneous waterworks and abhorrence expressed so acutely on his face.  If I returned the warming milk and fruit to the table, his devastation would immediately lift.  Mind you, he wouldn’t return to the table to eat the food he fought so nobly to protect; he would resume his play that consisted of launching all of his toys across the rug as though he were an Athenian Olympian.

Over the course of an hour while I prepared snacks and such for our outing, my son intermittently played independently among sudden, more enduring tantrums that included launching plush and paper-based toys into our kitchen sink until I gave him the stink-eye stare down that I can’t believe worked, or him pulling on whatever appendage that was convenient before passionately slamming child proofed cabinets and attempting to dislodge the oven door from its frame.  I’m not daft; I understand this behavior was prompted by justifiable grievances…like not allowing him to gnaw on the random cords in our pantry or suckle the assortment of brooms we have hanging in the very same closet.  I completely understand that I’m a terrible, terrible Mommy for not permitting him to horde the glass jar of gefilte fish that we have no choice but to house on a refrigerator shelf he can easily reach.  Even more evil is that I won’t hold him at that very moment because I’ve learned that his true desire is to scout the top of the island for stuff he can pull down, forcing me to lumber after him pregnant or not.

But, alas, he is a toddler.  When I sit down for a moment he’ll cuddle me or try to cover my feet in my favorite soft, fuzzy socks.  He loves little more than endless renditions of his current Dr. Seuss favorite or burrowing in the blanket I’m crocheting for his sister.  It’s in those moments that I’ll happily oblige him…until I realize he’s soiled his diaper.  During those very instances he perceives I’ve come to such a conclusion and dashes off in mischievous giggles, and the chase is on.

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