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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

enjoying this phase as best i know how

these days, evelyn won't sit still long enough for me to take a photo, brush her hair or cut even one of her disheveled fingernails. every iphone picture of her is blurry, and her nails are dangerously sharp and lined with dirt. (there must be a secret to clipping toddler nails that i don't know about. i've considered clipping them in her sleep, but that seems just as complicated for different reasons.) that's not the worst part: overnight, her favorite word became no. when i ask questions that should evoke happiness and excitement—like, "do you want to go upstairs and play?"—the answer is usually no. even when she means yes. (but to open-ended questions, she likes to respond with "apple." kid loves a good, juicy apple.) 

yesterday was the first time this phase completely overwhelmed and embarrassed me in public. i thought it'd be fun to spend the afternoon at the library, where evie could sit on the floor and flip through book after book, just like she does at home. she loves books. turns out darting up and down the aisles flinging books off the shelves is much more fun than reading quietly. (don't let the pictures above fool you. she stayed in these positions for no more than three seconds.) i couldn't put the books back on the shelves faster than she could hurl them off. i struggled to carry a diaper bag, my purse and my giant camera while picking up after evie and firmly whispering (because we were in a library) to stop, hold still, and sit down and read a book for the love of pete. 

as i fought to keep the aisles clean, i snatched twelve board books off the floor to take home with us. i walked to the service desk juggling a purse, a diaper bag, a large dslr camera, a crying evelyn (she didn't want to leave) and twelve books in my arms. (twelve! without even a bag or basket to hold them!)

it was really hard. i remember the newborn phase being hard, and the sleep training phase being really hard, but this is a new kind of hard. in public. everyone around me could see my exhaustion, not only from carrying too many things but also from evelyn's constant stream of no's. some eyes i met were sympathetic, others were annoyed. (i assumed the latter never had kids.) i couldn't wait to get in the car. when we got in, i breathed a huge sigh relief and just sat there, eyes closed, while evelyn played in her car seat in the back.




i googled toddler discipline. i wondered, how do i know if evie's deliberately doing something wrong (crying to get her way, making a mess for mommy to clean up) or if this is just normal 16-month-old behavior that i have to deal with? if she knows what she's doing and it's wrong, what's the best way to teach her it's wrong? should i avoid all public places for a few more years? probably not. i found some great articles that i think will help. until the techniques are put into practice, wish me luck. :)


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  1. Oh, I feel every emotion you are experiencing. Unfortunately, in my experience, this behavior doesn't stop for a really long time (we are still struggling going shopping) BUT it does get easier to handle. No one told me the terrible twos start before 18 months! :) One good book/parenting technique I love is Love and Logic for Early Childhood. Good luck!

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  2. I definitely went through this phase too with my toddler, and I do think around 18 mths is the hardest - they are becoming independent but still don't have much focus so it gets a little crazy! You are not alone. I can't sing the praises highly enough of Harvey Karp's "Happiest Toddler on the Block." I wrote about it here when I was having a day just like yours! ... http://www.themamayears.com/2012/09/september-10-day-i-sucked-at-motherhood.html

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  3. Aww! I am so sorry Meg :( Good luck with everything!!!! You can do it!

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  4. aw Megger! If anyone can do it, it's you, I know it. Good luck, and hopefully those articles help!! Wish I had some words of wisdom.. But really, just gotta say you rock and they don't call parenting the hardest job for nothing! :)

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  5. I can only imagine how difficult this is, but I'm sure it feels good to be able to write your feelings down and hopefully get some feedback from other mamas. I think most importantly, you're taking Evie places, introducing her to new things, and disciplining her in an appropriate way, even if it breaks your heart sometimes. It sounds to me like you're doing an amazing job, so keep it up! :)

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  6. Even tho I have no children, I can tell you that the easiest way (though it may not seem like it at first) to clip a toddlers nails IS in fact in their sleep. Wait until they are in that "lift the arm up and let it flop" level of sleep and then simply (ha) pick up their hand and gently clip the nails. I know it seems like it wouldn't be easy - but it's much easier than wrangling a baby and getting her to sit still. I did this with the children I works with and for and it worked everytime. Oh and the other stuff - also very normal. Hang in there...you are an amazing mom!!

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  7. This post had me laughing. Not *at you. But, with you (I hope) because I've been there SO MANY TIMES. It's humbling. And embarrassing, and I don't care who you are..if you are a parent? You've had these moments. If you haven't, I say your lying :) Here's my favorite I look back on from time time.

    http://kolmerkiddos.blogspot.com/2009/03/whole-foods-whole-lotta-misery.html

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  8. It seems like such a long time ago already that my daughter was this age (she's 2 and 3 months), but I definitely remember the stage. It seemed to me like it was less out of defiance and more out of testing the waters to see what was safe and acceptable behaviour, it's the best time to teach and establish what is and isn't okay for them to do. Hang in there mama, it's all an adventure, for the rest of our lives now. :)

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  9. Reading thru this post I had flash backs to recent library trips with my toddler...walking to check out with an armful of books, a huge diaper bag falling off my shoulder, pushing an empty stroller...and last but not least a whiney toddler following much too far behind me. I know your pain!

    I love the site ahaparenting.com - excellent articles that have really helped me figure my little guy out a bit more.

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