Or maybe just me, just lately. Take a look at the anguish, the pain in her face. Did she just bite her tongue? Maybe a loud boom caused her to react in fear. Maybe I yelled at her for spilling her chili everywhere. This face, this scream, this moment captured forever – as far as I can tell, my daughter is upset because I wouldn’t give her chocolate chips for lunch.
Or, at least, that was the catalyst for the fit.
Toddlers and their fits hardly make sense to us. It starts as something small, a request. L is a smart girl and knows which cabinet I keep the chocolate chips in. She pointed to it. “Uggg” she said, standing in her high chair. There are three ways to react to this: go get a handful of chips for her, tell her calmly “No”, or just ignore. Today my method of choice was ignoring her. She doesn’t respond well to “No”.
So, I did what all the gentle parenting books suggest, I tried to distract her. I even gave her a choice. I took out a container of Greek Yogurt, and last night’s chili-and-rice leftovers, and asked her which one she wanted. She pointed to the chili. I heated it up. All the while, she was screaming. Pretty much like this.
I just had a new baby three weeks ago, so I’m getting rather good at tuning out screams and fits. I knew this was passing. Once the chili was ready, she was going to devour it just as happily as she did the night before. So I busied myself cleaning up, trying to talk pleasantly to her, completely ignoring her screams. Having a one-sided conversation with a 19-month-old with a temper and a runny nose is not my idea of a calm Tuesday morning, but I digress.
Five minutes of her incorehently screaming, sobbing and pointing, and the ding of the toaster oven signaled an end. I brought her her food, “Look L, it’s ready!”. She took a bite. As she chewed, silence. Yes! Victorious mom moment! Outsmarted the Toddler!
She swallowed, and it dawned on her. This isn’t chocolate chips. This is something vaguely nutritious. And, thus, the fit returned, with a vengeance. You can see her face, above. This girl is not having it. This girl is pissed. This girl is NOT eating anything but chocolate chips.
I scooped her up, wiped her face, and we went to her room. I sang to her as I cuddled her on the rocker. All signs of the fit, vanished. Who needs lunch anyway? We read one of those annoying sing-song books that kids love and I laid her down for her nap. And the idea that’s been percolating in my head for a few weeks really took form.
I went down to our basement to start the diaper laundry (I have 2 under 2 in cloth diapers, YIPEE) and this picture I took of my daughter, this picture of her that’s always going to show her in such agony in this moment of her unjust toddler life, I figured it was a good place to start writing about all that is us, this family, and a place for me, the bored suburban mom-of-three.
I’m not a crafty lady. I don’t have lots of tips and tricks for clean living. I’m not one to push my beliefs on people and I certainly don’t have a Dr. Google Degree in alternative parenting styles. But one day I do want to look back on this crazy time and writing is the best way I can remember it. So here I am, beginning something.
L is napping right now. My newborn H is in the swing, sighing and grunting as he sleeps. My big boy is at school, eagerly taking in his first grade classes. And I’m here, with a cup of stale coffee by my side, taking a moment purely for me. That face above, that screaming face from my mini-me, I feel it often inside even if I can’t express it because I’m supposed to be a 33-year-old adult, but just like Lulu in her room is calm, so am I, right now.