Sunday, March 22, 2009

Newspaper column

My mother is officially getting her revenge for all of the horrible things I did through childhood and adolescence.

It has manifested in the form of a pint-sized package with a big personality and even bigger lung capacity.

I should’ve known when my daughter, Allison, got her first teeth at 2 months old that the terrible twos would come early, too.

In the past few weeks, I’ve discovered she can turn from the sweet little girl I know and love into a puddle of temper at my feet — all in the span of time it takes for me to remove the tip of the orange marker from her mouth.

Apparently drawing a picture tastes delicious.

About a year ago, Allison’s doctor asked if we had baby-proofed our house. My husband and I dutifully ticked off the precautions we had taken, knowing that our staircase, kitchen cabinets and outlets were safe.

But what apparatus prevents curious toddlers from hoisting themselves onto a chair to reach things they shouldn’t have at higher altitudes? Alluring things like the salt and pepper shakers. Or the electric toothbrush.

Unfortunately, I need to turn in the opposite direction once in awhile or perhaps devote even a small portion of my attention to necessary tasks like emptying the dishwasher. I have since learned that transferring two plates to a cabinet is an invitation to scale the kitchen table.

When she’s not testing her boundaries, arm span and gravity, she’s usually testing my patience. I tell her that throwing meatloaf is not an appropriate way to let me know she’s done with dinner, and she gives me a wry smile while tossing the chunk that was hidden in her other palm.

Then there are the dreaded incidents in public.

Last weekend, I helped host a baby shower for my friend, and by the end, she was probably wishing she had rethought the whole reproduction thing. The other mothers in attendance with babies who napped peacefully through the event must’ve left in horror after watching mine coat her entire upper body in cherry tomatoes and veggie dip.

Not to mention that the floor around her highchair looked like a well-stocked buffet.

I try to remind myself that even though she beats me in speed, energy and agility, I’m smarter than she is. Orange marker? What orange marker? Check out this BOOK!

Sometimes I call my mom in utter exasperation wondering how she ever let me live long enough to earn the right to borrow the car. At this point, I’m already contemplating withholding Allison’s driving privileges until she’s 18 solely on the grounds that meatloaf does not belong in my hair.

My mom just laughs, encourages me with longstanding adages like “this too shall pass” and tells me horror stories of my own childhood, like the time I cut my little brother’s hair right before the family portrait to commemorate my grandparents’ anniversary.

I always know instantly what she’s getting at. She’s not trying to illustrate that all kids have moments that make their parents crazy. She’s not trying to break the mood with a laugh. She’s not trying to prove that in 30 years those are the memories worth keeping.

She’s saying that someday, it’ll be my turn.

And it’s the right of every grandparent everywhere to sit back and revel in their grandchildren’s misadventures.


Erica said...

Haha, that's fantastic. Or incredibly frustrating, I guess it depends on your situation. At least the grandparents in this case are only telling stories for revenge rather than actually encouraging these situations for their own amusement. Like the time my grandparents convinced me to dump a bowl of spaghetti on my head at my first birthday. Or the time they thought it would be funny to get me to run around the house right after a bath so that my parents couldn't catch me in a towel when I was two. Or all the countless toys they bought me to drive my parents crazy. Which I think is fantastically funny.... until it's my parents turn.

Ray said...

I'm not a parent so I can't first-handedly feel your pain but: hopefully Allison's early "terrible twos" stage will end quickly. Then when she's actually "two" she'll be your "sweet little girl" again. Here's hoping. But I guess that's why GOD made them so cute for a reason. ;o)

Hang in there!

Marcy said...

The past week my sweet, happy, good-natured 13month old son has turned into The Grouch. I'm hoping it's a short phase. We shall see. At least he's not climbing yet. How do parents survive? This is exhausting!

Fit Mama said...

It's amazing how they can go from happy little tots to "puddles of temper." My litle one is about 18 months and she has had meltdowns even while I shovel ice cream into her mouth. My husband was in drama club, so I think she's starting early. :) They are so lucky they're cute!

the_plainsman said...

HA! Rays comment, "...that's why God made them so cute!" covers it well.

But from a distant perspective, curious how the trials of being a parent are like trying to catch that proverbial moving target. Just when you have achieved success, or come to terms with something and breath a sigh of relief, the rules change!

Come to think of it, it is simply like life itself, but happening at warp speed, 'cause Allison's got legs!!!

And speaking of Allison’s doctor asking if you had baby-proofed the house, don't laugh, but it might be worthwhile, because she is so active and curious, to crawl around yourselves and reach and grab for stuff, making sure the drawer chests, the bookcases, stands and TV's are anchored against tipping, too. (Stores have anchor straps)

Candi said...

Haha, yeah, I can imagine she's probably enjoying it just a tad. But take heart. My son is twenty months and he, too, started the terrible twos early. But with consistency on my part I'm starting to see things getting better. It really will pass!

Jaclyn said...

OMG!!! And I thought it was early when Katelyn got her first tooth at 3.5 months!! WOW!!!

I'm glad to know that Katelyn's not the only one who loves to throw things; paper towels after she's wiped her face, a bite of beans she wasn't in the mood for, remotes, toys, balls, her cup and basically anything that's not nailed to the ground.

All kids hit the "terrible twos" before they're two...but I never thought they'd go through it this early!!!

Anonymous said...

Easier said then done i know, but a word of advice, Enjoy her while shes little.The older they get, the bigger the problems. Once you get thru the terrible 2's, you get the mesriable 3's then the horriable 4's. I'd say 5 is when i finally caught my breath :-)