today, your mama, brother and i ventured out to costco for the first time ever. this meant that we had to purchase a membership, which takes some time. and patience. and stillness. the trifecta for a guaranteed toddler head explosion. i chased you a lot. called you back to me through gritted teeth a lot. all the while, you were happily screaming and running wild throughout the checkout/snackbar/tire center area of a very large store. you were wildly manic, unstoppable, uncontrollable. you flailed and screeched and threw yourself on the floor, where you rolled in ecstasy. you nearly tripped several customers, and were milliseconds away from being run over by more than one industrial sized shopping cart.
you were jubilant but crazy-eyed. you couldn’t calm yourself down. i could not contain you. when you nearly ran out the door and into the parking lot, i gave you a time out. against the wall in the tire area. you sat there, completely still(!), and talked to yourself about the fact that you were in time out and could not get up till mommy came to get you. two minutes later, you’d found your own reset button, and as a family, we shopped. you sat in the cart, and were chatty and witty and delightful. until you started screaming uncle g’s name over and over, for no other reason than you were thinking about him. until you demanded goldfish from the huge box in the cart, even though you had many in your mouth already–the ones we’d brought from home. until you began to kick your mothers in the stomach from your ideal perch in the cart. once you did the latter, i bent down to talk with you, eye to eye, and you tried to bite me. after a warning, you passive-aggressively licked me instead. and then you kicked your mama. again. time out. again. this time in the dog food section.
an hour later, we were finally home, and you were overtired and hungry. i sat with you as you attempted to stay in your seat and eat your fish sticks and apples. you couldn’t do it. you fell out of your chair a lot, ran away from the table, accidentally dunked your whole elbow in ketchup. you tried to climb on the table too. and you couldn’t keep your damned straw in your milk to save your life. you know that if you take your straw out of your glass (because it immediately becomes an instrument of milk art) it goes away. tonight, it went away.
you did finish your dinner, and were so very proud of that fact (ta-da! you said), but not without me giving you three time outs. this hat trick is unprecedented for you and me.
thing is, we’d had a fabulous day before you turned tornado on me. it was definitely a ‘mommy’ day, in that i was the preferred parent. we played a lot, and without incident. sure, you pushed boundaries like you do every day, but all i needed to do was say “make a good choice, jude” and you’d making a good choice. there was no drama before your nap, you were patient as we worked through our new routine of getting everyone ready to go anywhere. oh kiddo, i was so proud of you.
oh but tonight, you exhausted me. i initially asked mama to please put you to bed, but i changed my mind. i didn’t want to end the day frustrated with you. and so we began our nightly routine together. the tornado continued: you threw yourself on the ground in a seizing fit when i offered you pajamas. you refused pants. after we finished reading books, you wanted more. to show your dismay at not getting more, you chucked two of them at my head, which i caught. you stopped screaming long enough to say, “wow, good catch mommy!”
i was SO done, jude. but instead, i sang you a song and said our good nights and i love yous as i do every night. because your insane behavior will not keep me from letting you know that you are loved.
incidentally, you immediately passed out. currently, i hear you snoring in the monitor.
oh my girl, i am chronicling this particular story on this particular day, not because i want to embarrass the adolescent you, but to let you know that you are an intense, powerful little person, and that i am learning how to navigate our relationship as your emotions become more complex. your brain is exploding with new information every minute, and how are you not always overloaded? when you act out, i know that you are usually just overwhelmed (or tired or hungry or not feeling well). let it be known in writing that i am not trying to be mean to you when i give you time outs over and over again. i am simply trying to keep you safe, to teach you how to control your body, to give you space to calm yourself down from a frenzied state.
when you bite me, oh my god i want to bite you back. it hurts like a mofo!!! more than one mother (my own included) has advisd me to do it; that once she bit her child back, the behavior stopped. thankfully, a lot of other mothers have told me that, yeah, maybe the behavior got better, but they felt nothing but regret about biting back.
you are biting because you are feeling huge things and have no other learned methods of release yet. and so your mama and i are trying to arm you with words: frustrated. angry. sad. mad. hungry. tired. sick. jealous. you’re learning to understand and use these kinds of words. when you can name what you’re feeling, it won’t be so big and scary anymore. i am confident the biting will end then. in the meantime, i refuse to bite back.
i love you, my strong-willed, wild biter. i love you even when i’m mad.