One night, not too long ago, our little family was walking down Valencia St. and witnessed a common yet bone-chilling scene: a small child throwing such a fit that her parent had her in a football hold, as she bucked against his grip and screamed like a Ringwraith. Joel grumbled, “Hmm… not looking forward to that.” I guess I was in shock, because I simply answered, “There is no way Olive will ever be that bad.” Joel just laughed at me, which was the best response, as I could not have accepted my fate graciously at that moment.
Olive has been an unusually sweet, cuddly baby, with a charming disposition who seldom cries unless she needs something. But somehow, she woke up one day this week, transformed into Tantrum Tracey, Toddler edition. A friend complimented my parenting the other week, noting that I am pretty permissive and laid back — if I know it’s not going to hurt her or someone else, I let Olive have a lot of choice about her actions. That was, of course, until she decided that her newest obsession is a desire to lick the toilet plunger.
Whether it is a compulsion to find the grimiest thing in the house and ingest it, or the simple desire to tear apart my shoes like a tiny chupacabra, Olive is asserting her need for independence. Loudly. Joel was singing her a little song in the bath the other night, a jaunty tune with the lyrics “It’s the epic struggle between daughter and father/daughter is louder/but father is stronger!” as he tried to wash her fro.
The main problem is that she wants to do everything herself now… and she can’t. I feel her pain — I wish she could wipe her own butt and feed herself peas and do all the crap I have to do for her every second she’s awake, but she can’t yet! It takes a lot of energy to do all that stuff, but I don’t mind… as long as she doesn’t turn it into a battle of wills. Yeah, good luck with that. Olive of last week would eat her peanut butter & jelly sandwich gladly, happy to be eating food she could just feed herself, sitting at her little toddler table with her milk and a puzzle. Tantrum Tracey, Toddler edition, laughs at my idea of a simple lunch, and takes to grinding the sandwich into the grooves of the couch, mashing it in for good measure.
So, how am I combating this? Lots of deep breaths. Raising my tolerance for a messy house and dirty child. And, lowering my aversion to having children watch television. 20 minutes of downtime is necessary for both of us, and it sometimes can be the difference between letting Tantrum Tracey escalate to Terrible Twos edition, and getting my sweet babygirl Olive back.
Luckily for me, I don’t need to get cable & deal with fees and commercials, as Netflix streaming has a great selection of kids shows. Olive’s current favorite is Yo Gabba Gabba, a total stoner show that features some great artists, musicians and guest stars like Mark Mothersbaugh, Biz Markee, and Jack Black. Joel & I’s favorite character is Foofa, who is pretty cute but really I think we like her best because her voice is the least annoying, and she seems to be the most emotionally well-adjusted character. We think Brobee really needs some child/monster therapy.
Also, did you know that Amy Poehler made a kids show, set in San Francisco, with Seonna Hong as art director? If not, then, you’re welcome. It’s called The Mighty B, and it’s pretty fricken rad. We didn’t show Olive any TV her entire first year of life. But Tantrum Tracey requires TV. Her little toddler blood craves it like an adult needs coffee, and I’m going to moderate it like I limit myself — one a day, even if you want 6. One.
Another thing I’ve never given Olive but am finding my way around now is processed snacks. Since she’s now put herself on an all-carb diet, I need sneaky ways to get fruits & veggies in. While at Bi-Rite the other day, using my awesome gift cert from a still-anonymous donor (thank you again, mystery giver!!), I saw an area of organic snacks for babies, and picked up some Plum Organics Fiddlesticks, Apple-Carrot-Grain flavor. As soon as I brought them in, I saw Olive’s eyes gleam like a little demon, and her nanny said, “Oh, she likes those. A friend of mine gave her some once and she liked them.” Understatement of the year. Olive went CRAZY for these things. Her word for food is “Ah-boo”, and all I heard that night was “Ah-boo? Ah-boo?”, pleading for more Fiddlesticks. I hid the box, and the girl figured out where they were and started climbing to them! I thought, “Uh oh. I may need to ban these from the house. OR BUY ALL OF THEM EVER MADE.” I am nervous, though, because of this post from a fellow parent-blogger, that I may be setting myself up for a fall if I allow her to have frequent access to them. Better stick to raisins.
All of this is occurring at a particularly sleep-deprived moment in our lives, because ever since Daylight Savings, Olive wakes up insanely early. We used to get to sleep in until the luxurious hour of 6:30, but now Olive is up at 5:45am, guns blazing, bouncing in her crib and using her little lungs to let us know how very awake she is. After months of this, I realized we are simply not going to survive it, so I suggested to Joel that we switch off, one sleeping in until 6:45 one day while the other gets up with Olive, the other the next. The first day we tried it, Joel got Olive up, gave her a glass of milk, then brought her right back to bed with me! “I thought she’d calm down” was his explanation for why she was tapping my face insistently saying “Mama! Na na? Mama!!!” However, this morning he tried again, taking her out at 5:30 and allowing me to sleep an extra hour, and I swear to God I’m a new person. I plan on returning the favor tomorrow morning, however, so we’ll see how that goes.
Anyways, if anyone has some favorite tips for entering Toddler Land, please comment. She’s still adorable and hilarious, it’s just like she’s been turned up to 11 and I’m working on minus 15.