Is there a secret toddler class where they teach children how to writhe around on the ground like snakes? Because I know for a fact that Miles didn’t learn this adorable trait from me.
I get it, kid…fun stuff is fun, and you don’t want me to take you away from it. I react in a similar fashion when your dad only gives me two scoops of Ben & Jerry’s…I WANT THREEEEE, WAAAAAH! But in all reality, as much as you think you’d enjoy it, we can’t spend all day at the splash pad, or the park, or rolling around on the rugs at Target.
A few weekends ago, we hit one of our local parks that has a splash pad. We made an early morning run, after eating breakfast out, so we could avoid the “big kids” (those heathen 7-year-olds…) and so Miles could have adequate space to run around like a maniac. If you are not the parent of a toddler or young child, you should know this: a toddler doing anything for an hour is the equivalent of you on your first day of Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred. But unlike an adult, who knows that it’s probably time to call it quits once the shaking knees and urge to vomit kick in, a toddler will continue running around like a maniac until they lay down on the ground and go to sleep. My child has never done this because I’m one of those weird parents who has their child on a schedule, but I have witnessed the occurrence with other kids.
I am not a “nap where you fall down” mama. I am a “you nap in your crib from 12:00-2:30p so I can read/nap/fold laundry/binge on Tostitos/watch Roseanne” mama. We never plan activities or get togethers during nap time, because this is a special and sacred time for all of us. And so, with any outing, it must come to an end so we can move on to other important parts of our day. I can’t just leave you to fall asleep under a bench.
After 90 minutes of running, splashing, finding small objects to shove in our ears, nearly drowning no less than six times and even making TWO NEW FRIENDS (!!!), we knew lunch time was approaching (to be followed closely by nap time) and it was time to do the logical thing: pack up and head home.
I gathered our sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, shoes, towels, water bottles, more sunscreen, and toys, and loaded them into the truck. Only one additional item to load: THE KID.
Oh, the horror. The horror and the terror. Or at least that’s what it sounded like.
Me: “Miles! It’s almost time for lunch! (yay, happy smiles!) Are you ready to go home and have lunch?” (more happy smiles)
Miles: *looks at me skeptically*
Me: “Look! I have a banana! We can eat it in the truck. Come on, big guy!” (super happy smiles)
Miles: *continues looking at me skeptically, turns around and runs to the nearest water feature he can shove his face into*
Me: “Miles, it’s time to go. Would you like to be mama’s BIG HELPER and help me finish packing?” Note: This “big helper” stuff works 99.98% of the time, seriously.
Me: *confused look* Additional note: I am confused because we don’t use “no” in our household; we redirect. Call me a hippie if you want, but it works 87.88% of the time. It has zero effect at water parks.
Miles: “Waw-duh. Waw-duh! WAW-DUH!” (“water”, duh)
Me: “Miles, we have finished playing in the water, and now we are all done. Let’s go home so we can eat lunch.”
Miles: “No. No. No.”
Me: *picks up the child*
Miles: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS WOMAN IS KIDNAPPING ME! THIS WOMAN IS TYING ME TO A CHAIR FILLED WITH BUMBLE BEES! THIS WOMAN WANTS ME TO EAT OKRA! THIS WOMAN IS NOT MY MAMA! THIS WOMAN WON’T LET ME PLAY! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!
Up until this point, Miles had never really thrown a tantrum. Sure, he’d get sort of ticked if I wouldn’t let him stick the whisk in the dog’s ear, and as soon as I took the whisk and attempted to redirect him to something else, his normal reaction was to lay on the floor and yell (not scream, just sort of yell) then pick himself up and go about his business. So while I’d thought those were sort of like tantrums, I learned that they were not. NOT IN THE LEAST.
After 15 minutes of attempting to change him into dry clothes, 10 minutes of explaining why he could not have his wet bathing suit, and an additional 15 minutes of wrangling/acrobatics/Cirque de Soleil, he was finally FINALLY in his car seat. FINALLY. I gave him a banana, and we were good to go. Crisis over. He happily chattered the entire drive home, ate lunch, and took an epic nap. I joined him in this epic napping, because I was EXHAUSTED.
Last Friday, I arrived at Miles’ school promptly at 5:05 to pick him up…the weekend had arrived, woohoo! When I walked into the classroom, he and one of his favorite friends were playing on these giant wedges (toddler toys are primarily things that sing, things that roll, things that yell “IT’S LEARNING TIME!” over and over and over, and giant foam things covered in vinyl that kids can get all WWE on without fear of injuring themselves too much). Oh man, it was adorable. Running up the wedges, rolling down the wedges, standing on top of the wedges and jumping off. I talked with his teacher for a few minutes, just to give him some extra play time. And then, it was time. Cue the theme from “Rocky.”
A similar conversation to the one held at the splash park took place. It ended with me carrying him football-style, screaming, out of the classroom. The attempted resistance continued the entire 478 mile trek to the parking lot. Parents of older kids looked at me with a, “been there, done that” face. Parents of infants looked at me with a, “THAT’S what happens?!” face. And we will call that Tantrum #2.
How have we learned to avoid tantrums, especially when redirecting isn’t working? Food. Specifically, bananas or dried apples. We keep one of these with us at all times: instant happy smiles.
At the end of the day, these moments are few and far between, and the joy that we experience leading up to the Reign of Terror is pretty awesome…
Totally worth the sprained knee resulting from Clash of the Car seat.