My youngest child. My baby. When she came into this world and we received the phone call announcing her surprise birth, I was instantly humbled. We had been hoping, wishing, and praying for this child for years. She was born when we were at the lowest of our low and when she was placed in my arms, I fell to my knees. Faith restored. Things just got better and better as she grew into a happy and adorable infant. Every feature was just perfection – I would spend hours gazing at her face, kissing her button nose, and surrounding myself in the awe of getting to be (one of) her mother(s). Humbled.
She is now 2 1/2 years old. I’m still down there on my knees, but let me tell you, this is an entirely different flavor of humbling. I was at a party this weekend, chatting with another mom of 3, and she joked about that old adage, “If first children were anything like the youngest child, there would be a whole lot more singletons in this world.” SING IT SISTER.
That prayed for, wished for, perfect, beautiful, happy child? She is trying to break me.
With my older daughter, we soared ourselves right on through the terrible twos. Some sassiness for sure, but we potty trained easily, transitioned to a toddler bed like nothin’, stayed close to adults in public, had a healthy fear for anything labeled ‘dangerous’, and only flirted briefly with hitting and biting – because obviously I’m the toddler whisperer. I parented like.a.boss.
So when my youngest came of age, I pulled out all my tried and true tricks and OWNED IT. You know, for that solid 5 minutes before she climbed on top of the dining room table again then cheerily sang songs and giggled through her time in the thinking chair. Toddler bed transition? Nightmare. Why does my sticker chart have no power over her?? Don’t even get me started on “gentle hands”, pressing every button on the dishwasher, dumping clean laundry on the floor, ripping every book she gets her hands on, and for the love, could you pleeeeaaase just poop on the potty?! Girlfriend is trouble with a capitol T. In fact, she is so often getting into something, and I’m so often calling her by her first AND middle names, that she now introduces herself that way…as if she were meant to have 2 first names or something.
The good news is, just when I’ve about yanked out every last hair from my head, she offers a glimmer of hope. Maybe, just maybe, she is listening. Take this morning for example…
I’ve been working with the older kids quite a bit on moderating their emotional responses to situations. The whole don’t-cry-over-spilled-milk thing (we’re kind of a dramatic group). So when I dumped some of the breakfast eggs on the ground, I stifled my cursing and instead offered a “Ooops, spills happen. No problem.” Scrambled up another egg, set breakfast out for the kids, then ran to take my 3 minute shower.
A few minutes later I hear the bizarre sound of the dogs sneezing uncontrollably. What in the…? Investigation reveals that the 2 year old has gotten her hands on the pepper and dumped it all over her eggs, the table, and the floor.
I look at my 7 year old, “Did you tell her to stop??” “No, you said I’m not supposed to be bossy.”
Onto the 3 year old, “Why didn’t you come tell me?” “That is tattle-tailing. I’m only supposed to tell if something is broken or someone is hurt. Are the dogs hurt?”
Another dead end.
So I look at my youngest and ask her (using first and middle names) what happened. “Oooops. Dat’s ok Mommy. Spills happen.”
What IS it about that youngest child??