Friday, August 24, 2007

"Terrible" Karma

I’ve taken a couple Thursdays off from parent humor duty. I owe you guys.

Just when I thought I was getting the hang of this parenting thing, I got blindsided by the Terrible Twos. Actually more like blindsided, run over, backed-over again, then hit in the head with the car door as I raised up from the pavement. Wow.

It seems as if my sweet little one is quite the independent thinker. If she’s not likin’ the status quo, she just gets up and does her own thing. And leads others down the path with her.

Naturally, I see this capacity for questioning authority as a good thing — in about twenty years. I also know, possibly, how she came by the trait. Somewhere in heaven, my father is laughing at me. Hard.

Down here, paybacks are hell. There are two approaches to handling the Terrible Twos. There is the illusive "right way." And there is the tempting but misguided path. Oh, so tempting. Oh, so misguided.

Tempting, But Very Misguided:
1. Drink. Heavily.
2. Throw your own tantrum. See if it works for you.
3. Earplugs, those really expensive noise-reduction ones. Ahhhh.
4. The velcro toddler suit and matching fuzzy time-out chair. Patent pending. Earplugs sold separately, see above.
5. A pocket recorder that repeats automatically. The first time you answer a “Why?” you can just play the recording for the next twelve times it’s asked again.
6. A t-shirt to wear on errands, just in case, that says, “No, this is NOT my child.” No one has to know the truth.
7. Pound your head against the wall until the whining stops, or you get knocked out. Either way, you get a little peace and quiet.
8. Give in to get five minutes of rest. And pay for it the rest of your natural born life.

Hmmm. Nope, not such good ideas. I guess I am just going to have to suck it up and burn the bad karma from my own Terrible days.

Here is what I am currently thinking is my “Right Way.” Subject to change. Daily. Hourly. Note, I did not say "the" or "our." I have enough on my hands, I don't have time to give advice like I know what I am doing. Clearly, I'm the student here. Teach me.

My "Right Way:"
  1. I have to stop repeating myself. After the first, “No, thank you, put that down!” the other five repeats just made the game more fun. I was driving myself nuts. The Kiddo was helping.

    These days, if I don’t get a response on the first try, I help. As in, “Please put that glass down, or Mommy can help you.” Or, asking, while extending a gentle hand over hers to help her put the wine glass back on the counter and to stop her from trying to drink the backwash left in it. Hey, it's my backwash, I should get to drink it.

    What I’ve learned is that my independent Kiddo would rather comply than miss out on doing something for herself. Man, is it nice not to have to listen to myself, too. So freakin’ nice.

  2. I need to keep it shorter. I think I was getting beaten up with the “Why” so long that I did too much explaining up front. You really can't cover your ass with a two-year-old.

    I finally realized this comes out like the Far Side cartoon, you know the one: “Blah, blah, blah, blah, Ginger, blah, blah, blah …” These days, I try to write the script for the Short Attention Span Theater. And keep the instructions crystal clear. I find this also works at the office. My career is going to skyrocket.

  3. The polite “Okay?” at the end of the requests was killing the whole authority voice thing. I had to make the offer into something that could not be refused.

  4. I am not a yeller by nature, so I’ve done pretty well at the whole modeling calm thing. Sometimes my “calm” comes out more like “exhaustion and a quiet slip over the brink of sanity,” but it’s calm.

  5. After a rough day, this one is hard, but really important. I have to remember to make things fun, or at least pleasant. It all just works so much better. However, using the Cookie Monster voice is making me sound like I have a three-pack-a-day habit.

  6. Focus. Hmmm. How many times have I said that word to my child?! This time it’s for me. I need to do a better job of listening to her when I am busy. Everyone likes being heard, not just Mommy. I admit, I can't always understand her, but she knows I am trying.

So, I am going to practice. And practice. If I am lucky, I might get it down by the time the Kiddo reaches puberty and all the rules change on me again.


Her Grace said...

A game of Mousetrap, newly purchased from a local rummage sale, nearly drove me to the brink of sanity today. Thanks for the laugh, and the reminder that a little patience can go a long way!

The Expatriate Chef said...

I'm always good for a laugh, Grace. At me, usually. Glad I could be of service.

sandierpastures said...

I wish I saw this two years ago! Hilarious tempting but misguided list you have!

BTW, I will include this in next week's edition of carnival of family life (I am hosting).

The Expatriate Chef said...

Thanks! Glad you stopped by!

jen said...

number five is a big one for me. but barring humor, i'll take drinking.

am only human you know.

Charlotte Hume said...

I found that locking myself in the bathroom for 10 minutes was good.
Oh and gin and tonic. I think that toddlers are probably psychotic most of the time.

Beth - try vegetable faces.
It seems to be working for lots of people out there...

jasmine said...

I have been newly thrown into toddler parenting for a brief period of time (the guy I am seeing has his 20 month old for 6 weeks, mom is in Korea) -- long enough to learn a lot about myself as a mother -- it is a strange situation as a short term gig since there are things that take lots of energy and time but will pay off in the end but in this case might not be worth it (for the few weeks left). Who knows what mom is doing and consistancy is so key. I will say she was very well behaved (considering) for champagne brunch yesterday which I especially needed. Oh wait was that on the misguided list?

Rachel said...

I swear to jebus, not only are Jess and the Kiddo separated-at-birth-by-five-months twins, but they are experiencing the Same (goddamn) Behaviors at the Same (goddamn) Time. Why, oh why, don't we live closer to each other so we can set Jess and the Kiddo off together like a self-winding clock so we adults can kick back and relax?!?

Until said time, I go for drink. Just cracked open a heavenly Aussie Gewurztraminer with DH. Want some? I'll even offer you the glass without Jess's backwash 'cos you rate, Beth!!

PS: my spam word is pssyi. I think it should be pronounced "pissy."

The Expatriate Chef said...

Hey Rachel! Aren't we both glad we weren't in labor for that five months to have our twins!! :) Yes, please, pass the wine. Backwash and all!

Corey~living and loving said...

Love it! :) you made me laugh....then you validated that I am doing the same, "right way" things. :)

we are reilly said...

practice until she reaches puberty? more like until she reaches tomorrow and all the rules change! I have a 2 year old as seems the attitude and rules change daily in our house -- what worked today is definitely not going to work tomorrow and if it does....then that's just luck! :)