My son ran circles around me this week. From the computer desk (aka the dining room table) to the grocery store, he’s been going through another whirlwind stage. This stage rears its ugly head every six months or so, and it generally entails sleeping issues at night and simulating a tornado during waking hours.
A new touch he’s added to the firestorm is screaming. To express just about every emotion he has now, he’s decided he will scream in a pitch that will shatter glass and surely drive my neighbors to call the cops on me one of these days. I was having some trouble with him hitting at one point, and after about a million useless time outs, I think I corrected the problem when I told him if he needed to hit, he could hit the couch or a pillow, just not people or breakable objects. So now in addition to the screaming, we have pounding on the table.
He’s usually pretty well trained to stay off my computer, as long as it’s a safe distance from the edge of the table and there’s no chair nearby to tempt him to climb up, but for some reason, when my husband puts his computer anywhere near mine, the baby becomes completely obsessed with getting his hands on a keyboard. Needless to say, both computers have been camped out on the table all week, and I’ve spent, on average, every 60 seconds or so either shooing him away or searching for websites that will keep him distracted.
And of course there’s the throwing. I’m constantly dodging heavy and often fragile objects, or heavy objects being hurled at fragile objects. Sometimes the only thing that saves him from being locked in the closet (joking of course) is how stinking cute he is when he’s misbehaving. Like when he pulls everything out of the freezer looking for the ice cream cake that grandpa left behind and demands, “Baby have some cake in the mouth! Put it on my plate. I need cake on my plate so Baby can put cake in the mouth!”
Or when he refuses to eat anything but bread for dinner, and tries to calmly reason, “Baby have some bread. Baby have some bread, have some dinner. Baby have some bread, have some diner in the belly. Fill the belly with some bread,” and he goes through this whole spiel with a look on his face like he’s delivering a dissertation.
His new favorite words are, “Shut up,” “Hey!” and the occasional “Son of a bitch!” My husband blames me for that last one, and while I am not proud, it is probably true. Sometimes you don’t really realize what slips out of your mouth in front of your kids until they start repeating it back to you.
And finally, there’s the misbehaving in public. Our last weekly Walmart trip took extra long because, money being a little tight this week, I spent 20 minutes an item comparing labels and prices and trying to squeeze every last penny out of the shopping list. The baby protested my efforts by standing up in the shopping cart until I relented and took him down, at which point he sneakily began snagging items off the spice rack and rolling them under the bottom shelf. When he realized I was onto him, he hastily grabbed as many spices off the shelf as he could and flung them under with the rest of the pile. I probably should have just scurried around the corner before anyone else noticed, but me being, well, me, I got down on my hands and knees on the filthy floor of Walmart .
I would have put the baby back in the shopping cart while I cleaned up the mess, but naturally the shopping cart I grabbed had a broken buckle. I did notice this right away when I grabbed the cart, but I foolishly thought to myself, “It doesn’t matter. He doesn’t need the buckle.” So there I was, trying to retrieve as many spices as I could with one hand while attempting to restrain my son with the other, all because I was too lazy to grab another cart. I finally gave up the battle when it became clear he would continue to roll more spices under the shelf faster than I could retrieve them.
The perfect end to that evening was coming home to discover the dishwasher appeared to be broken. As I was emptying all the dishes, I noticed that they looked clean but not quite rinsed. I had the same problem earlier in the week, but I thought I fixed it by refilling the rinsing agent. I called my sister who is basically a mechanical genius and knows how to fix everything. She had no clue what the problem could be. She suggested I check the filter in the bottom of the dishwasher to make sure it wasn’t clogged. So after emptying all the dishes, I’ll pulled out the rack and discovered a huge puddle of water at the bottom of the dishwasher.
I immediately knew what was wrong, but just to be sure, I closed the door and hit the power button. Sure enough, there was still 90 minutes left on the cycle. I called my sister back.
“It appears the problem is my son,” I told her. For all the times the little rascal has turned the dishwasher on when he wasn’t supposed to, I don’t think he’s ever turned it off in the middle of a cycle before. So after giving my sister a good laugh, I hung up the phone and proceeded to re-load the dishwasher with all the barely clean dishes I just put away.
To people without kids, this might all sound like a nightmare, but for those of us who have been blessed with parenthood, there is nothing more satisfying than realizing you’ve been outsmarted by your clever 2 year old. The highlight of my day is calling my husband and saying, “Guess what your son did this time.” Don’t get me wrong—some days I think my head is going to pop right off because my child is running circles around me and it’s making me dizzy. But there is no sight on the planet that tugs at me more than his mischievous smile. There is no person who teaches me more about myself, who challenges me to do better, to be better. In short, it’s not that it’s all worth the torture; it’s that the torture is the reward.