Monday, September 29, 2014

Keep Calm and Carry Your Toddler

Hi dear readers. Do you mind if I place a little of my burden on your capable shoulders? no? I thought not.

I remember reading a blog entry by a person with a nom-de-plume that read "mother-of-beautiful-baby-boy-turned-monster-toddler" and chuckling, and also cringing, wondering if and when that would happen to me.
Cue Ray at 18 months.

All the sudden, mothering seems so much harder. But he is not really a monster toddler. He's still a beautiful baby boy, and he's turning into a bright and friendly toddler. He doesn't scream for hours because his peas are too close to his mashed potatoes, like I have read to expect. On the whole he's very fun to be with.
So why the heck is this so exhausting? I can't quite put my finger on it. I started getting the idea perhaps it's not just one thing, it's a lot of things all at once:

-He's a lot stronger.
He hates to be put to bed by daddy. Before daddy could pin him down and hold him, but now it's like he's mastered floor wrestling from Judo and can get out of any hold.

-He's taller.
Before he couldn't reach door handles, but now he can easily get in an out of any room in the house that is not physically blocked by a baby gate.
So, now he will escape daddy's pin and run screaming to the back room, in the process opening four doors to get to me, like when I was supposed to be doing server maintenance from 2-6 am last weekend.
The only time I have actually cried at work (so *freakin'* embarassing!!)  was when my boss asked me to do midnight server maintenance again next month and wouldn't take no for an answer. Obviously I got the job done last time, but ...Yeah, it was that bad. I will post the whole story in the comments if you really want to know. Luckily the department head stepped in and put a stop to that!

-Still won't sleep without me. At all.
it would really be nice to do some things at night... like did I mention the downstairs neighbor plays bass in a jazz band? and he invited me to sing in said jazz band? This has been a dream of mine for a while! (like since junior high school).  I guess I could bring him along. There are probably some duets, Ray could sing a part that goes 'Mama' in a wail... ;)

-He's in to *everything*.
Here he is investigating the contents of a box of veggies and laying them out on the bed.
Curious Ray is the monkey who is tall enough to reach every thing in the house and often does. Super normal toddler trait, all of the internets assure me, when he pulls everything out of your wallet and checks all the cards, sometimes hiding them in crevices in the couch. Or like, when I spent half an hour in the kitchen, doing dishes, wiping the surfaces and scrubbing the floor... only to walk into the living room to chaos punctuated by smooshed crackers and crayon scribbles on the windows. Ohhhkay. You're going to help me clean this up, kiddo. I don't care if you mostly make it worse.

-He is really getting heavy!
One word : buff.
11 kilos and still wants "up" all the time. He can say up now! and sometimes says 'da' when he wants up ;) our apartment is two flights up, and even though he's getting better at climbing stairs, they're concrete and don't have good handholds his height, so I usually carry him.
I always feel so macho when I carry a couple of bags of heavy groceries in one hand and a twenty-five pound baby in the other up the two flights of stairs.

- Has more demands than ever and is getting very vocal about them.
Now he has some words, and he knows you know what they mean. Like, he knows how to say 'wawa' for water, and 'ju' for juice, and if you get him wawa when he told you he wants ju, he is like COME ON DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND ENGLISH WOMAN?!?! ;) So yeah, the feeling of being a personal slave for a very demanding little emperor is not fading.

-Discovered the joy of climbing

...on everything. Oh Joy.
... this includes over the back of the sofa, where there is a hardwood floor on the other side. *thunk*!! Poor baby... we should probably re-think our living room layout. He seems to have learned his lesson though, at the cost of a big bruise on his forehead. (;_;)
Also this means there is no place the cat is truly safe any more. We made her a little nest on the top of our dresser, but he climbed up there the other day... needless to say she wasn't pleased, and gave him another scratch for me to explain to the daycare teachers...
note, he is getting much better with the cat though! When not too long ago he was obsessed with trying to pin her in a choke hold, now he will just pat her with varying degrees of force and try to give her kisses.
She is still not fond of kisses.

-Can't quite communicate... enough.
He knows lots of words. He can say around twenty, and understands a lot more than that. Unfortunately, he doesn't understand what makes me upset without me using a lot of grunts and gestures, so there is no real way for me to tell him to stop doing something without me going over there and doing an interperative dance about not pulling all of the clean clothes out of the dresser and strewing them on the floor.
It doesn't help that his reasoning ability is still at the early stages, where any kind of discipline (if I smack mommy in the face, she will put me down and leave the room and then I am sad! ok maybe i shouldn't slap mommmy!...wait, something shiny ...  I forgot) works for only a few seconds at best.

-Runs like there is no tomorrow
Ok, here is a funny story for you. The other day I took Ray to the awesome neighborhood onsen (public hotspring bath). We go there about once a week and I love it, it feels great and you can bring your baby. But *last* time, just as we were ready to get in the bath and both completely undressed, ray gets it into his little head to BOLT out into the lobby in his birthday suit. I am butt naked and can't follow him!! Luckily for me a nice lady ran after him and caught him for me!!
 When I got home and told Takeshi that story, he ripped me a new one in Japanese, saying if I can't control him 100% I can't bring him to the onsen.
...I mean, I get it. The lobby has an automatic door that opens directly on to a busy street. If Ray had run out there... *shudder*. Well even if it didn't end in tragedy, it probably would have made local headlines. "Naked toddler found darting into oncoming traffic!"
But still, controlling a toddler 100% is a lot easier said than done. Between you and me, I had a little sob after that whole episode.

Really I'm just complaining when there is so much that is great. I didn't mention that he has gotten just a little bit shy, and when a stanger waves at him, he will smile, hide his face in my skirt, then peek out and give the sweetest grin and wave back. Or how he is getting really creative and will build complicated duplos towers with me, or pull out his sketchbook and crayons and gesture and say a word he knows for me to draw, and pointing at it and saying the word before I can finish, like crowing 'DUCKY!!' triumphantly. ;)

Here he is with his great grandmother. They have over 90 years difference in age! They really dig each other :D
Some of my favorite photos to remind me of the good stuff ;)
I guess I just need one of those slogans, a little motto that reassures me things will get easier.
Something like

...until he's bigger,  

or your arms fall off
whichever comes sooner.
it's probably just a phase you know.



Blogger kball said...

So many of these ring so true for us as well.

Our equivalent to the onsen/100% control story (going both ways) goes something like "He fell off the what?". Insert chair, couch, stairs, porch, bookcase... if it is remotely climbable our toddler will try to fall off of it. :P

Also on the little dictator front... it's very interesting now that he's learning to communicate a little, he's had learn the distinction between "I don't understand you" and "I understand you but I'm still saying no". Quite a challenge! :P

BTW I'm going to be in Tokyo for some work related stuff the first week in November, will you be around? It would be fun to see you (and meet Ray and Takeshi if it works out); I think the last time we had non internet contact might have been as far back as high school. :P

7:13 PM  

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