Monday, September 24, 2007

Analysis of a bad walk home

The first problem? Z.'s animals were not packed with her things. When all goes well, she is all packed up and ready to go at the foot of the stairs. Today, we had to walk the long hall back to her class to get the missing animals: no forward momentum.

The next problem was a miscalculation on my part: instead of herding her homewards, I let her run around on the lawn in front of shul with some of the other kids, also destroying forward momentum and furthermore burning through what was left of her blood sugar and proliferating the opportunities for delaying tactics. She had a good time: climbing, jumping, looking for sticks. Admiring big kids at a close distance. But she is like me: it is hard for her to stop once she's started. It's hard for her to shift gears. She would rather accumulate than choose, and every choice is an occasion for delay. Because that's kind of how I'm built, too, it's hard for me to give her the structure to move on to the next thing. I'm working on it. I've been working on it consciously since last May or so--much of what I do for her as a parent is scaffold her day and limit her choices.

But she fusses. Which was problem number 3: she opted for running rather than the stroller, and when--half a block later--that blood sugar took its final plunge, she started losing it. Fusses and tears, and apparently there were all kinds of heretofore undisclosed rules about following a running toddler with a stroller that I was violating. Really, who'd'a thunk there was such an intricate protocol?

Problem 4: I wiggled and I didn't adequately signal my decisions to her. I told her we needed to get to the tiny park a block from school, and then we could sit and talk about our options. But she was still falling apart, and I sat her down on someone's lawn instead. Which was fine, until we were at the park, and it had already been 40 minutes since school let out. Forty minutes: one block. I did not want to stop again. Of course, we did. She drank water. I thought of what Julia talked about today.

Finally, she clambered into her stroller. We talked about wasting time. We talked about how time spent fussing is time we don't have anymore. We can't go to the bakery if she wastes the time we were going to use to go there.

At the foot of the stairs, she lost it again over getting unsnapped from her stroller. Lost it worse than anything to that point. I was beyond toddler management and all about getting us both off the sidewalk and then getting some calories into the kid. I hauled all forty-nine pounds of her-plus-stroller up the damn stairs (and yes, every time I do something like that I think of the friend who told me that Z. would be my weight training--too bad I can't use her for wrist curls.) At least when she screamed at me for removing her bodily from the harness we were in the yard.

When she was finally in the dining room, strapped into her kinderzeat, the ritual purple sippy cup filled with milk, the cereal and nuts and berries deposited before her, I gave myself a break. Before cleaning up the garbage the dogs strewed all over the kitchen.

And we don't need to talk about how fast an unwiped toddler can move, do we? When you've just vacated your favorite seat expressly in order to wipe her?

The seat cleaned up okay. If you were wondering.


kathy a. said...

(( S ))

niobe said...

Once upon a time there was a little boy who between the ages of, say, 18 months and 4 years, had an average of 12 tantrums a day. He screamed when you put on his socks. He screamed when you put on his shoes. He screamed when the apple slices were not cut in the shapes he preferred. He screamed when you put in the bath. He screamed when you took him out of the bath.

His parents attributed it entirely to nature, not nurture.

(un)relaxeddad said...

Oh how I recognise this! Dudelet's just reached (at nearly 4) the point where he'll walk places in a civilised way without a buggy (and one blessing is that he's never got attached to specific objects outside of Bunny who NEVER leaves the house - just in case) but still needs carrying at unpredictable intervals. And those rules!! It's like playing blindfolded chess where the board keeps being turned 90 degrees at random intervals but no-one tells you. Dudelet has a scooter which is light enough to hang off the back of the buggy which helps, though training him that he had to stop at the kerb and cross holding a hand cost a lot of tantrums. It does pass, though! Choice limitation - you're so right and I get that so wrong very often.

S. said...

kathy a., thanks.

Niobe, you tell a familiar story ... a child with a different nature would be easier to nurture, alright!

(un)relaxeddad--you are so right about the blindfolded chess and the turning board. Oy! I'm impressed that you can cope with dudelet getting on a scooter, what with the broken leg history and all. I think you're well on your way to living without fear!

Magpie said...

Oof. Those are not the nice days.

I rather like your description of parenting - vis a vis scaffolding and choices.

Julia said...

Oy-- tough day. Hope today is better.

Monkey didn't really throw tantrums when she was little. We joked that having avoided terrible twos we might be in for it at an unspecified later date. Well, this transition to the world of school and all kinds of big-big-girlishness may be it. At least I can have a drink again by the end of the week, is all I am saying.