Saturday, January 7, 2012

The A-Z's of Motherhood to a Toddler (Part 1)

Now that Monkey is newly-mobile and quickly gaining momentum, I have left the "babyhood" stage of parenting and am re-learning "toddlerhood."  It's crazy how quickly you forget.  I only foster infants and toddlers.  You'd think after five under the age of 17 months in the past three years that I'd remember!  It must be that whole "selective memory" thing, because I seem to remember it being so very easy.  I am obviously delirious from too much baby talk and lack of quality sleep.

It's been a while since I've attempted an "A-Z Thing," so I thought (given the amount of material this subject provides) I'd give it a go.  I'm breaking this post down into two parts so it's not quite so long. 

Sure Signs That You Are Parenting a Toddler

Attitude - I don't know what it is about gaining the ability to crawl that turns my once sweet, innocent little babies into toddlers with an attitude.  In the past week, I have already had to use the phrase, "Don't you use that tone of voice with me, young man!" on my 10-month-old!  At 11 months old, both Munchkin and Little Miss came through my door in full "diva" mode.  And Booger...  Well, Booger was a booger!  God sure knew what he was doing when he planned the toddlerhood attitude and the "Terrible Twos."  They might be strong-willed little boogers, but they are so darned cute the rest of time!  How can you stay frustrated when they give random hugs and kisses and do that whole flirty smile thing?  :-)

Barricades - These little ones start moving, and they seem to locate everything in creation except their acceptable playthings.  I have a baby gate blocking the entry to the stairs, outlet covers galore, and have an awesome system in place for additional barricades.  I use my dining room chairs, boxes, and other small pieces of furniture to block off areas that I don't want the kiddos to get into.  One day, I will get to use my furniture for its intended purpose, but until then at least my Christmas tree is still standing (even if I can't see it behind all of the chairs ;-).

Clothing mishaps - Monkey has hit the "trying to help me' stage when I'm trying to get him dressed.  He sees a sock, he holds up his foot...  I go to put his arms in his sleeves, he quickly straightens them to get them through the holes.  This is all well and good if he actually makes the arm holes, but more times than not he misses, and what began as him "helping out" ends in hyperventilating panic attacks as he attempts to escape the "straightjacket" that Mama apparently forced him into.  It's like trying to dress an octopus with superpowers.  As the kiddos get older, you have the disappearing clothing to deal with.  You walk into the nursery, and your once peacefully sleeping, fully-clothed baby is stark naked and happily playing in their own poop.  It's madness, I tell you!

Disappearing furniture - Three years ago, I had a beautifully decorated home.  I had a great entertainment center, a coordinating coffee table, side tables, etc.  Three years later, all furniture that wasn't cushioned has disappeared.  The beautiful entertainment center lost its doors when I had to remove them after Booger kept running into them.  My huge coffee table found a new home.  The side tables are stored away and replaced with toy boxes and baby gear.  One day, I will be allowed furniture again.  But seeing as how I love fostering, I will probably be a white-haired old lady before I get to put the doors back on my entertainment center.  :-)

Exerting Independence - Little ones hit the toddler stage, and decide they are full-grown people and can do everything on their own.  They insist on feeding themselves, and what was once a 10-15 minute mealtime turns into a 45 minute ordeal.  Little Miss was all about the spoon.  Granted, more food ended up on her face, in her hair, and behind her back (don't ask) than in her mouth, but she would slap my hand if I tried to help her in any way.  Booger was known to spend 45 minute stretches attempting to stab individual peas with a fork.  Monkey is just now hitting the "insisting on only foods that he can feed himself" stage.  I keep telling him that he can't live on puffs and yogurt melts, but he doesn't really seem to believe me.

Food in strange places - Speaking of puffs and yogurt melts...  I was a little chilly at work the other day so I went to put on my jacket, and what did I find???  A yogurt melt stuck to the back!  I can't believe no one told me that was on there during the entire morning leading up to me getting into my office!  Now that Monkey is eating finger foods, I have found food in so many strange places that I can only assume he is sneaking it away from his highchair in his clothes and hiding it away for later.  I think toddlers hide their snacks the same way dogs bury their bones.  I know I've come across many a child with some kind of food in his mouth when I know I haven't fed him that particular thing for three days!  If that's really the case, Monkey is one smart kid.  Just stick a yogurt melt on Mama's back as a handy snack for later!

Good helpers - Kiddos this age always seem to want to be "good helpers."  Booger was my OCD Cleaning Baby.  He was obsessed with all things cleaning-related.  The vacuum cleaner, brooms, mops, the laundry...  He would bring me trash to throw away.  To this day (at three years old), he comes over to visit, goes straight into "his" room, pulls out his old toy vacuum cleaner and starts "vacuuming" my living room for me.  Such a good helper!  :-)  Little Miss was all about helping me sort laundry and put her toys away at the end of the day.  I already have Monkey helping me put his toys away too!  He just thinks it's a game right now, but hey...  If he can take the toys out of his toy box on his own, he can help put them back in!

Hoarders - On top of hoarding food, I've come to the realization that toddlers have a tendency to hoard other items as well.  I always wonder where their smaller toys go, and I usually end up finding stashes of links, blocks, books, etc. under beds, under couches, and behind larger furniture when I go to rearrange.  At one point, I ended up replacing three packages of Lots of Links because they kept disappearing on me, only to find every last link upon rearranging the living room and nursery.  Booger also had a fascination with socks (something to do with his laundry fetish, I think).  I always had to make sure that I put the dirty laundry out of reach, or I would inevitably come up one sock per pair short.  I never did find half of them!  There's no telling where he stashed them.

Injuries - They look innocent enough...  I mean, they're just big blocks, right?  Oh so very wrong, my friend!  I was so excited to get the "Stationary Plaything of Doom" out of my living room that I didn't think about the fact that it was being replaced with a toy box filled with small, sure-to-be-stepped-on, hard objects that I'm pretty sure will cause this Mama immeasurable pain.  In the last three days alone, I have tripped over, stepped on, turned my ankle on more small toys than I care to admit.  And if my injuries aren't bad enough, just look at my kids' foreheads!  Booger Bear had what we referred to as his "Super-Aerodynamic Baby Crawler Mode" where he would race across the room with his head low to the ground in order to pick up speed.  He might have been successful in travelling faster, but that sudden stop when his head hit a wall definitely put a damper on his fun!

Jealousy - Toddlers understand what is "theirs," and the first thing that they associate as "theirs" is their Mama.  The first time I ever experienced this was with Booger Bear.  I had gone to his daycare to pick him up for the day, when another baby fell down and was crying.  Booger was on the other side of the room playing, so I picked up Baby to comfort him.  That was my fatal mistake.  Booger whipped his head around the second he heard my voice, saw that I was holding another baby, growled a "War Cry" that would rival that of any heard on "Braveheart," and crawled faster than the speed of light across the room.  I swear, the boy clawed his way up my leg and into my arms before I knew what was happening!  When I put the other baby down, Booger stayed there in my arms giving the "Death Stare of Doom" to the other baby who dared encroach on his territory.  It was pretty funny.  :-)  Monkey has also hit the "she's mine!" phase.  You would think with four 8-10 month babies in the family that he would have learned to share me by now, but not so much.  ;-)

Kitty Cat Tommie in Hiding - A sure sign that my children have "made the toddlerhood conversion" is the sudden disappearance of my cat.  Poor Tommie...  We led such a quiet, peaceful life for nearly a decade together before I had to go and bring the miniature humans into the picture.  ;-)  He does well enough with them while they are immobile, but the second they learn to crawl and want to follow him around the house, hug him, pet him, pull his tail, yank on his whiskers, rip his hair out by the handful, etc., that cat goes into hiding.  Can't say that I blame him...  But Tommie also has a "Forget you, kid!  This place is MINE!" side to him when he decides to come and sit right in the middle of the living room and taunt the child.  It's like I'm parenting two instead of one.  "Don't make me come over there!"

Lots of love and cuddles - Toddlers have got to be the most loving, cuddly group of little people in existence!  Babies will snuggle, but toddlers know why they're snuggling.  They'll run up and give random hugs and kisses out of the blue.  They flirt.  They tell you they love you.  I still remember how my heart would melt ever time Booger would hug me, pat my back (because that's what I always did to him), say "I wuh woo..." and then lift his head, smile, and say, "KISS!"  Monkey is starting to do the same thing with the hugging and patting my back too.  So stinkin' cute!!!

Mommy deafness - I always enjoy those first several months of a child's life when they love to hear my voice...  When they look towards me with eager anticipation and can't wait to hear what I have to say...  Then they hit toddlerhood, and things are never the same again.  There's something that "clicks" in a toddler's brain that says, "If I pretend I can't hear her, then I don't have to do what she says."  I'd love to be able to say that the "mommy deafness" eventually goes away, but I fear it only evolves into more advanced stages known as "teenage muteness" and "wife deafness."  It is a worldwide epidemic for which there is no cure.

 Stay tuned for Part 2 coming shortly!!!

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