Parenting

My Toddler Must Think I'm Totally Nuts

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It’s hard being a toddler.  Just when you think you’ve got things figured out, somebody starts using a cookie sheet to bake actual cookies. Isn’t that for sticking magnets to? In our house lately, my son has been expressing some serious confusion over things which, to me, seem pretty run of the mill. Here are a few examples.

Swatting a fly

There we are, sitting at the table having a perfectly nice lunch, when suddenly Mommy grabs a magazine (which, until now, he thought he’d figured out the purpose of: cutting out photos for collage time), rolls it up into a tube and starts smacking the heck out of the kitchen walls with it. Now he has to wonder if this is something he, too, will be allowed to do once he’s finished his peanut butter and jelly sandwich or if it’s one of those things that is “not for toddlers.” And as if this new activity isn’t startling enough, Mommy then pauses in her frenzied assault of the walls just long enough to draw his attention to a strange buzzing creature that is zooming around the kitchen at frightening speeds. And the connection between the wall smacking and the strange, buzzing creature is completely lost on him, so now his attention is divided between Mommy’s crazy antics and this insane zooming bug thing and he’s really not sure if this is funny or terrifying. So he decides it’s both, and laughs until he cries.

The smoke detector going off

He thought he’d gotten through the most terrifying part of making cookies once Mommy had told him she was all done mixing and put the horrifying torture device also known as the mixer back in the cabinet. So he’s playing contentedly on the floor with his toy trucks when suddenly the apartment is filled with an incredibly loud beeping noise. The noise, in and of itself, is fairly startling, but the real shocker is Mommy, who comes flying out of the kitchen holding a dish towel which she proceeds to frantically wave back and forth in the air yelling, “It’s okay, it’s just the smoke detector!” as if that’s supposed to clear everything up.  When the beeping has finally stopped, he assumes Mommy’s next move will be to give him a reassuring hug and some sort of explanation but instead she is zooming back to the kitchen where smoke is pouring out of the oven and she’s yelling “don’tcomeinheredon’tcomeinheredon’tcomeinhere!” while throwing half the cookies into the trash.  And it’s at this moment that the horrible beeping noise happens again so he bursts into tears prompting Mommy to scoop him up in one arm and wave the dish towel around in the air with the other which is nothing like the reassuring hug he was expecting but does, eventually, seem to make the beeping stop.  Whereupon she offers him a cookie, so everything’s okay.

Mommy burning her tongue on her coffee

Coffee is definitely one of those “not for toddlers” things, so he’s prepared to give any strange behavior surrounding it the benefit of the doubt.  But there are limits.  It’s definitely worth investigating, for example, when Mommy suddenly makes a sort of gagging noise that sounds a lot like the noise the drain makes when he pulls the plug in the bathtub, and then spits her coffee right back into her cup.  Is this something he might be allowed to try?  Yelling “me do it!” only seems to provoke a sort of interpretive dance in which Mommy is shaking her head back and forth, waving her hand in front of her mouth, and jerking the cup around so that it stays just out of his reach.  The explanation, when it comes, is woefully unhelpful because, until now, “burning” meant fire and firemen and firetrucks and (once) cookies and a loud beeping noise but now, apparently, this same thing that happens to buildings and cookies is happening to Mommy’s tongue.  So he spends some time exploring his own tongue with his fingers, wondering how to set it on fire, while Mommy gargles cold water in the kitchen.  His perfectly reasonable request of “me touch Mommy’s tongue?” is met with an inexplicable “no.”

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Hang in there, kid.  It’s gonna get a whole lot worse before it gets better.