Raising a Blended Family

I’ll Do It Myself (But Not Without Making a Huge Mess)

on August 26, 2014

Such is the balance of toddlerhood in our household these days. Full-fledged desire to do everything himself meets not-fully-developed hand-eye coordination meets complete disregard for the, ahem, cleanliness of his surroundings. Usually what you get is a ginormous mess, but one satisfied toddler. Yes folks, independence truly has reared its ugly (fascinating, amazing, reallyitsagoodthingbutsometimesit’shardtocelebrate) head and I have a sinking feeling it is here to STAY.

Most of his independence requests are simple: He wants to climb onto his changing table himself, for example. Totally fine! Climb away kiddo, we’ve had that crap bolted to the wall for ages. Or he wants to be the one to “read” the book (again, totes fine. And adorable.). Some requests get a little more complicated: He wants to hold his full glass of milk without a lid (because the waiter obviously never had kids) all by himself at the restaurant when we don’t have a change of clothes, or he would prefer to eat his yogurt with no help when I would prefer that my carpet stay clean today. Still other requests for independence are impossible to fulfill: he is more and more often requesting to walk rather than be back-carried, and when he walks he will hold our hand fine for about one minute but will soon be requesting “go! go!” (let go, let go) and the second you do he darts away. This is problematic in a store or public place and even more problematic on a busy street- he has no sense of self-preservation and will run into danger without a second thought.

This last bit is becoming more and more problematic, actually, as he often throws temper tantrums when he needs to be carried but doesn’t want to go, and makes it hard for us to carry him. The other day I was trying to put him into the carrier my brother was wearing and he screamed and grabbed a double handful of hair at the nape of my neck, using it as leverage to pull himself away from my brother. He ended up with a fistful of hair complete with roots- and yes, it hurt. I cried.  Other times he will throw himself down on the floor when we don’t let go of his hand as requested, and he does not care if the place he throws himself down is a puddle of muddy water or a patch of oil in a parking space.  It makes life a little bit difficult, though I know it’s totally developmentally normal and is the only way he currently knows how to express frustration and other upset feelings. So, we will work through it and continue to say yes when it is feasible and no when it is not.

One good thing is that offering him choices sometimes works and soothes the frustration.  They are always choices I can live with, such as “would you rather hold this hand or this hand?” while offering both hands from which to choose, rather than “would you like to hold my hand” when not holding a hand really isn’t an option because of safety. I forget where I read this method but it explained that the reason it works is because it gives them a little bit of control over their lives, which stops them from feeling helpless and frustrated. Honestly, I don’t really care why it works though- it could be voodoo magic for all I care and if it works and makes us both happy, then I’m all for it! Today it stopped a post-lunch tantrum in full steam: He was mad because I was wiping the yogurt he’d just eaten off his everywhere, and he was squirming and screaming and we were getting nowhere. I suddenly remembered this technique and stopped for a second and asked him, “Paxton, would you like me to wipe this hand or that hand?” while pointing at each one as I asked. He stopped mid-wail to consider, then happily offered his left hand to be cleaned and then his right. I’m not saying it works like that all the time but that was a pretty freakin’ magical moment in our household and I will happily take it and any others like it that come my way!

It’s hard to believe that we’re at this stage already, with him asserting more and more independence around every turn, but we are and moms had better learn to deal with it, STAT.

Below, the Yogurt Face, pre-wash. Still pretty damn cute, even when he’s all pissed off and screaming. 🙂




2 responses to “I’ll Do It Myself (But Not Without Making a Huge Mess)

  1. meridith says:

    What is it with servers and the lack of lids/GIANT cups? Dude, if you wanted milk all over the seat and floor, I could just do it for you myself. Also, more napkins when you have a chance please, thanks!

    • lezbemoms says:

      don’t forget that “right in front of the toddler” is always their answer to “hmm, where shall I set this steaming hot plate of food or your alcoholic beverage?” and your request for more napkins is never going to net you more than one extra, total. And it will either be cocktail sized or wrapped around some silverware which, oh joy! contain yet another steak knife you now have to keep out of your toddler’s reach.

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