- on April 15, 2011
I blame myself.
I got cocky. I got smug. I allowed myself to let my guard down.
You see, our baby has, 97 percent of the time, been an exceedingly good, "easy" baby. He has, for the most part, been a good sleeper, save a few teething or tummy or pulmonary episodes. He is agreeable, funny, sweet, and loving. He could sit for extended lunches in restaurant high chairs, playing with trucks on the table while we chatted with friends about important issues like who won Top Chef Allstars and how old Butler's coach is.
I couldn't help but secretly pat myself and my husband on the back. Of course, it was due to our impeccable parenting that our child was such a delight. It must be because of the choices we've made in his life, the balance of attention and independence we have given him. We said it was because of day care, and gave ourselves props for being working parents. We chalked it up to our remarkably good gene pool.
And then, last week happened. It all started with a light switch. My husband allowed our son to flip a switch as he carried him down the hall. What's the harm? We like to let Johnny explore the world from a safe place. So heck yes! Flip the switch from Daddy's arms, see the light go on! Look, Son! Electricity! It is a marvel, indeed!
But Johnny did not flip the switch and then move on. He wanted to flip it again. And again. Then he discovered the table lamp in his room, and wanted to pull the cord. And pull it again. And again. And AGAIN.
We'd be in the living room reading stories, and he'd look up, see a light switch, and demand to flip it. And then, he discovered the power of the tantrum. My perfect, peaceful baby would wrinkle up his nose, turn red, throw himself on the floor, and wail. And then, it happened again, over food. And it happened in a restaurant over a straw, and suddenly, life as we knew it was over.
"He's not two yet!" I'd cry. "We can't have the terrible two's YET," I'd moan. My sister was unsympathetic. "DUH. He's a toddler," was her reponse.
No advice, no words of encouragement from the peanut gallery. Just a big resounding "YEP." I think everyone was secretly happy that finally we were getting ours. That Mr. Perfect was turning into Mr. Persnickity.
But it turns out that toddlers are like Kansas weather. Don't like it? Just wait an hour. Because this week, he's better. Not perfect, but greatly improved. And in the place of the tantrum? Tired. He falls asleep with his face in his lunch, practically begs us to put him in his crib half an hour before bedtime, lolls on the couch with me and rests his head instead of racing up and down the hallway with his rocket rider.
And I remember: he's growing. The changes that are happening in him are happening so fast, from one week to the next not only does he look different, he is a different person, with a different set of skills, words, and emotions. He's trying it all out. And now, he's tired. It's so much work, growing up. How would you like it if you didn't recognize your own body or brain from one week to the next? I'd be cranky too.