I have a two year old daughter who is a Houdini. One minute she’s playing happily in the living room, the next she’s throwing garbage into the toilet, dumping the entire contents of the toy closet on the floor or (gasp!) outside, by herself! Of course she is dressed only in her diaper because clothes are suddenly the bane of her existence.
This isn’t my first time around with toddlers. You would think I would have it under control and know exactly what to do.
But Joy (my current toddler) is so different from the rest. The last two toddlers I had were the easiest toddlers ever. If you put them somewhere, that’s where you would find them ten minutes later. They didn’t have this compulsion to undress or empty organized spaces. They were the kind of toddler that you could hand a toy to and, get this, they would play with it! Shocking right? I got spoiled.
Joy reminds me a lot of my oldest, which quite frankly, terrifies me. And while Grace (now 8) would get into everything, she was always up front about it. I’m not kidding, this kid narrated everything she did.
“Toys on the floor. More toys on the floor!” I always knew what she was doing.
But Joy, Joy is silent. She makes you think that she is playing with blocks when really she is waiting for you to leave the room so she can go do what she really wants to.
Right now what she really wants to do is go to the front yard. You know, where there are dangers and cars that can run over a little two year old. And neighbors. Retired neighbors who spend all of their time pruning their yards and can’t remember what it’s like having a child with a will of their own.
One day, Joy couldn’t open the front door. The next day she could. Dang it. Go outside, bring her back in. Smile and wave at the neighbors.
So now the front door is bolted shut. She is too short to reach it. So we’re good.
And yet I come into the living room and there is no Joy? I ask my older kids, “Where is Joy?”
“Yeah, she wanted to go outside, so I opened the door for her.”
“What!? You know she’s not allowed outside.”
“But she asked and she’s so cute!”
Argh! Go outside, bring her back in. Smile and wave at the neighbors.
O.K. Discussion time. I impress on my children the dangers of their little sister being outside. No matter how cute she is she is not allowed outside without Mommy or Daddy. They understand, everyone is safe now.
The next time she escapes, I am sitting in the living room. I hear her little toddler voice coming through the window outside. What? There’s no way she sneaked passed me while I was in the living room. I go outside to get her and see, the garage door was open. The little smarty pants figured out how to open the garage.
Dang it. Go outside, bring her back in. Smile and wave at the neighbors.
Except this time the neighbor says,
“Lady, you have got to take better care of your kids.”
Thanks. I had no idea toddlers weren’t allowed outside by themselves.
Maybe he’s right. Maybe I am a terrible mother that doesn’t take very good care of my kids.
If I was a terrible mother, his statement would have fallen on deaf ears and been a waste of his time.
If I was a confident parent, his statement would have fallen on deaf ears and been a waste of his time.
As it is, I am a loving, caring, parent that worries that I am failing my kids almost daily. Pointing out my failures is not going to be helpful. I spent the rest of the day agonizing over his words. Which I suppose bore fruit because I found a double key entry to replace the door knob to the garage so none of the kids can get in the garage without my key.
So, maybe it was a good thing that he said that to me. I wish though that he could have found something more encouraging to say.
Tell me I am not the only one who has gone through something like this, please!