They were inseperable. She carried him proudly to all her favorite places: Target, Gymboree, the bathroom. They spoke their own special high pitched language. They had their own songs, and their own inside jokes that even Daddy wasn't in on. The mother had never experienced such unconditional, all encompassing adoration.
Finally, she began to understand why her mother-in-law hated her so much.
One day, not long after the baby learned to walk to the cheers and tears of his ever adoring mother, he reached for a piece of old gum that was stuck to the floor of a supermarket. "No, sweetheart!" his mother cried, her voice dripping with love and concern.
The baby looked at his beautiful mother. Then he whacked her across the face as hard as his little arm could whack, threw himself to the ground, kicked his pudgy little legs, and from his lips came a piercing scream of rage which his mother did not know he possessed the lung capacity to emit. She knew he must be having a seizure and as she gathered him into her concerned, loving arms, the look in his eyes brought back memories from The Exorcist as his formerly precious pudgy legs kicked her in the stomach with a strength she hadn't realized he had.
The horrible truth washed over her: this wasn't a medical emergency.
This was a rebellion.
The mother squatted in the grocery store aisle, staring at her previously perfect baby, wide eyed and mouth agape, too stunned to be embarrassed (yet), as the other women in the store pushed their carts past her and tried not to smile.
For me, it was in the stationery store when I was looking for birth announcements for the eminent Eva Rose. Twelve month old Shep wanted to pull all the cards off the racks and I wouldn't let him. It was too hard for my gigantic-with-child self to hold him, so I set him down, whereupon his thrashing soon caused him to whack his little hard head on the concrete floor. Which stopped the tantrum stat, although I don't necessarily recommend that technique. Meanwhile the sale lady stared at me staring at my child with a look like I was the worst mother ever to peruse her embossed notecards.
Soon after his sister came, the hitting began. And by soon, I mean, the day she came home from the hospital. He was smacking a newborn. Hard. At the time I was appalled and frustrated and terribly concerned that I might be one day profiled on Dateline as the mother of a serial killer. The obvious cause to his evil effect.
Three years later, his little brother Ike began to smack everyone who came within smacking distance. I disciplined, patiently, and rolled my eyes. Because four kids in three years had taught me at least one thing: One year olds hit.
Indeed, one year olds have a wide variety of interests and hobbies. Such as:
- pulling books off bookshelves
- putting objects in containers, then carrying them, then dumping them, then putting them back in, then carrying them, then dumping them, then putting them back in
- pushing anything pushable
- wearing sunglasses
- chewing toothbrushes
- pulling out diaper wipes and scattering them all over the floor
- arching their backs when you try to get them in the carseat, especially if you are running late
- taking shoes and socks off in the car, especially if you are running late
- coloring with markers all over their face, or anyone else's face
- pouring anything, everything, all over the floor
- hanging onto your legs and demanding to be held while whining unceasingly, especially while you're cooking dinner
I will tell you a secret...lean in close now...I hate this age. Oh, hate is a strong, guilt inducing word. Okay, I really, really, really don't enjoy it. I love my kids more than life itself yada yada yada. My ovaries quiver at the sight of infants, and I adore 4 year olds. But I consider 18 months to about 3 years a period of time to simply be endured.
They are at their peak of cuteness, it is true. But the exhaustion matches the cuteness. The constant messes, the inability to complete a phone call much less a project, and the incredible worry that comes from being almost solely responsible for a child who has the exploring capabilities of Christopher Columbus combined with the wisdom of Britney Spears causes me to long for the days when doctors considered Valium nothing more than a maternal necessity.
Oh, and then there's the fun of discipline. What are realistic expectations? How much do they understand? Am I too hard or too lenient? Am I being played, or am I scarring them for life?
I remember when my kids went from one to two to three and I invested a small fortune in books just to TELL ME WHAT TO DO TO MAKE THEM BEHAVE. I never found any, and I decided it must be because no one had a clue how to make them behave at that age. In a weird, sad way, that brought me comfort.
Later, I discovered there were one or two people like John Rosemond and the Love and Logic people (this book is truly wonderful) who could give me a clue as to how to deal with toddlers.
But what I really learned that helped the most were these two things: 1) everything's a phase and 2) this too shall pass.
And when one passes, they turn
More on that later...