Monday, August 12, 2013

My Toddler is Irrational and Other Obvious Observations

Blooding curdling screams, like she is being tortured. Oh, the horror! How can life possibly go on? Her string cheese will never ever be the same!

Saying that a toddler is irrational is as obvious as saying Ryan Gosling is hot. If you don't agree with me about the toddler part, I invite you to come over and try to convince my daughter that her string cheese, orange or banana are going to taste exactly the same, even if they are broken.

Post not about Ryan Gosling, but it can't hurt!
I am telling you that Claire will have have none of your logic. She will continue to believe that said string cheese is in a state of ruin. She will continue to vacillate between this belief and the vain hope that something can be done or someone can help to fix her string cheese and make it better, which, in turn, will guarantee that all is right with the world.

I realize that part of my job as a parent is allowing her to have feelings of disappointment about such devastations as broken string cheese. It's important to me to validate her experience, even if I don't agree that the world is going to end due to a piece of cheese. I also know that it is my obligation to teach her that things break, and to commiserate about the fact that life doesn't always work out the way that you planned.

I don't often feel so philosophical in the moment. I kinda just want it to stop. The drama-queen side of my daughter seems to have a way of taking me off my center. And when she wants things just so, I start to get paranoid. I wonder whether my daughter's predilections for whole pieces of food are just typical toddler behavior or something much more dire. Perhaps, she's inheriting some of my own OCD tendencies. In reality, it's impossible to predict which of my bad qualities she's going to inherit, so I don't know why I bother trying.

But the bigger problem is that I really do want to be able to take all of Claire's problems away from her. It kills me when I can't fix her string cheese. I want to continue to be the all-knowing, all-powerful figure in her life. With each string cheese incident, I have a shorter distance to fall from my pedestal.

With each string cheese incident, I project into the future all of the disappointments that she is going to have in life, which I am powerless to stop from happening. I imagine the teacher who will make her feel stupid or small. Mean girls will surely enter the picture at some point along the way. She will endure a broken heart for the first time.

I am not psychic. How do I know these things will happen to her? Because they happened to me! My parents did not do a good job helping me through these times. "Buck up" was the general Germanic tone. I could go on in greater length about my own childhood, but I'll save that bit of ranting for another post.

This post is about how I want to do things differently with my daughter. I don't want to minimize my daughter's feeling like my parents did with me, when I was little. I also know that being a supportive mom doesn't mean constantly stopping Claire from falling, but, rather, being there to catch her when she falls.

Knowing and believing are two different things, though. I guess I'm as irrational as my toddler!


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43 comments:

  1. I want to fix the wrongs too, even for my grown two boys. I don't think it's irrational, especially because we don't do it. The healthy balance between 'wanting to' and knowing when it's actually beneficial to fix things for them seems to even things out, and in the end they grow up alright...broken string cheese and all. :)

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    1. You are right, Rosey. As long as I don't act on my impulses, I'll be fine!

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  2. We wait so long for them to talk and then we expect them to talk rationally with us. It is so frustrating and it gets you off your center for sure. But you are still fabulous you, looking for the philosophical and trying to do better than your own childhood.

    There is a reason this time of her life is famous and known by parents world wide. I am sorry that doesn't make it easier for you to bear though. What is great is that you are allowing your own self to flail around trying to be the best Rachel you can be.

    And there in nothing more you can ask of yourself.

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    1. Yes, I keep on trying! It isn't always easy, but so far so good!

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  3. Being a Mum is so tough, I'm trying to encourage my little boy to be a bit braver and try a few new things, things his friends do easily, normal things in the park. But part of me is glad he's a bit scared, as I don;t want him to get hurt.

    however we bring our children up, I'm sure they'll turn round and tell us we did a bad job!

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    1. Ha, ha! It's true! They will take fault no matter what we do!

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  4. Oh how I feel your pain! My son is constantly complaining that things are not in the right order, and I worry about OCD with him. But I guess at this age, that's all they have to worry about, and unfortunately, they will have bigger challenges later in life with which to trade these. I think if we can help them learn to get over these little worries now, maybe they'll be better equipped to handle the bigger stuff someday. I try to talk with my son about these things as much as possible today, hoping he will know I'll be there for him as long as I can.

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    1. I feel like if I can consistently commiserate with my daughter about the small stuff, she will know that I have her back when the big things happen. So she will know that I will be there to catch her when she falls!

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  5. It's so hard to teach them to "not sweat the small stuff," because for a toddler, it's all big stuff! I am shocked sometimes about how I will be so careful to pull the entire lid off the yogurt, because we can't eat from the container if there's a little bit of lid still left, or I will so carefully open a wrapper so as not to break apart the granola bar.... they turn us into irrational OCD types if we're not careful! But I think this is all normal, and part of their desire for control and predictability and routine. I guess toddlers aren't just irrational but obsessive compulsive too! We have our work cut out for us....

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    1. So well said. The small stuff is the big stuff. We have SUCH different perspectives on things. I want to be able to consistently go to her level of understanding, but it isn't always easy!

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  6. "I don't want to minimize my daughter's feeling like my parents did with me when I was little."

    Combatting this makes it all worthwhile. Keep trying :)

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  7. Oh, preach it, sister! I am right there with you. I too try to cling to that philosophical stance that this is all serving a purpose, but the Angry Mommy can only handle so much freaking out because Grammy is at Uncle Brian's house for the FIFTEENTH TIME!!!! Okay. Sorry about that. I felt a little teary by the end of this- I am not a Buck Up Mommy, and I was raised by a very feelings-oriented mom myself, so I too make an effort not to minimize my daughter's disappointments. It's hard. It stays hard, but the irrational bit gets a little better... xo

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    1. I think it's really important to validate their experience. The hard part is that I don't always mean it!

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  8. not irrational at all just being a mum my lovely xx

    thanks for linking up with #MagicMoments x

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  9. Not at all irrational to want to put everything right for her - just being a great Mum.

    Kate x
    Kate at Home

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    1. Yes, but life is not always just so, Kate!

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  10. The toddler years are that period of time that I wonder how either of us survived. But we did. Enter age four and beyond: A breath of fresh air. I'm not saying it's perfect, but it's much better. :-) Hang in there, and you know I'm only a Facebook message away if you'd like to swap toddlers that seem OCD stories... ;-)

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    1. Thank you for the invitation, Sarah! I just may use it! :)

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  11. It is a fine line between acknowledging their feelings and caving into the tantrums. And toddlers are most certainly irrational beings! Although, my oldest daughter just turned 11 and she can still be pretty irrational in an entirely different way!

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    1. I like being able to validate my daughter's feelings, because broken string cheese is important to her right now. Plus, she doesn't have the emotional regulation or language to express herself quite yet.

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  12. Yes yes yes to this amazing post, Rachel. My son freaks out about things not being just right (and trust me, you'd know if it were actually more OCD-like). In fact, though, so do I. I still get angry when my husband takes a piece of pizza and tries to get more of his share of the shared cheese at the end of the triangle. Oops, sorry. That was about me.
    I completely get what you mean about wanting to fix everything for Claire. Take all of her problems away. YES, me too. Yes. I want that too. But ultimately, you're right. While you'd like to be the pillow that prevents every fall, usually, we just have to do our best at cushioning it. And sometimes, just kissing the boo boos after they happen.

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    1. I know. It's so hard to let go though, isn't it? My control issues get in the way. It's going to be way harder when they get older, Kristi! :(

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  13. Rachel, I know your pain of wanting to fix the "problem". Last week, Cuppy refused to go upstairs as there was spots on the steps. In my non-blog world (aka my day job), I see the negative effects of parents constantly fixing problems for their children -- that is those children grow into young adults who always question what they are doing for fear of making a mistake and failing. You hit the nail on the head (as always) when you said that parents should let the child fall, but be there to catch them. It is through those stumbles that children learn the most. Best, Erin

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    1. No, it isn't good to fix all of their problems. They don't learn to be confident in themselves and are very dependent. You are right, Erin! I don't act on my impulses for this very reason!

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  14. It wasn't until I had my third kid that I had the problem with the not accepting of broken crackers or bananas. Trust me my other two were a handful with other things but they were perfectly fine with a broken cracker. I realize that wasn't the point of your post and the true layer of it was much more meaningful and I thoroughly enjoyed it and understood it. I am much the same way of wanting to protect my children from every possible catastrophe or at least teaching them how to deal with every possible catastrophe should it occur. And you're right, our parent's generation showed so little sensitivity! Also, there is a band called String Cheese Incident and I always wondered how they got their name...I wonder if they had a toddler with a string cheese problem!

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    1. Yes! I was wondering if anyone remembered the String Cheese Incident. You made my day!! That's so funny that you had two who could care less about broken food and then one who does!

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  15. Yep, there is no reasoning with a little one.

    Popped by from Monday Mingle.

    thriftshopcommando.blogspot.com

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  16. I don't think you're going to minimize her feelings at all. At the same time, with my kids, I strive to make sure that my boys realize that they can own their feelings and emotions and not let it take over them! I can empathize about the broken cheese string, the broken toy and the broken friendship and lend them a shoulder to cry on, but they are the ones who have to surmount the hurdle and the pain themselves. <3

    Roshni
    http://www.indianamericanmom.com

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    1. Yes, they do have to overcome their own problems in life. It's so true. Like I said, though, knowing that and believing it are two different things! My control issues coming out, Roshni!

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  17. I can assure you that ALL toddlers insist on "whole" food. So much so that my twins would take one bite of banana and throw the rest away. Every time. For a year.

    I think the mere fact that you *want* to not minimize her fears and distresses means you will do a great job when she *really* needs you to do that for her. I *just* had such an experience with my 5yo (who will be 6 in 8 days). The other night she told me at bedtime, "Sometimes, during the day, I feel like I need to cry about just nothing, and if I can't, then it hurts."
    I told her I knew exactly how she felt, that sometimes it happened to me too, and if she ever needed to just get it out, I would help her. So I hugged her, and she choked up a little, and then said, "It's not going to come out right now." So we laughed and she went to bed.

    Today dropping her off at summer day-camp there was a boy who was probably 5-going-on-6 and he was FREAKING OUT, screaming and crying, "Nooooo mommy, don't LEAVE me" and whatnot. My daughter grabbed my hand as I turned to go and put it to her face and held on and started to cry a little. At first I said, "oh come ON - you've been going here for 3 weeks already!" and then she said, "but I can't make it stop"
    So I got down on her level, hugged her tight, told her to let it out, she cried a quiet little cry for a minute with a few tears, then I sat with her and read a book and she was good to go.
    I felt very proud of myself for how I handled that.

    And I think when the time comes, you'll do just what your daughter needs at just the right time when she needs it.
    Hang in there mama!

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    1. Oh, your stories gave me chills. Thank you for sharing. I hope you write a post about them! I SO know that feeling of "Oh, come on, now", but then realizing that you need to go to their place and world. So beautiful!

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  18. This is fantastic! Proves to me you are doing parenting right! And kudos to you for not minimizing Claire's feelings. I grew up in a similar situation as you where everything was "chin up and be strong!" I always felt like my parents didn't understand me at all. You obviously will never have that problem with Claire! XO

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  19. In parenting, one always has to question the boundaries of assisting and coddling. Still, I think that sometimes we expect more out of the youngsters than they're ready to provide. Kids are kids, not adults. They haven't the experience to look and decipher happenings the way we have. It is up to us to explain and hope they'll understand. I can't tell you how many times I've looked back at things my mother and grandparents told me that now make sense. Hang in there. You're doing okay, obviously! :)

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  20. I babysat a 3 year old the other day who insisted on having cheese and pickled cucumber sandwiches, so he could take the pickled cucumbers off. He didn't want them, but a plain cheese sandwich wasn't going to cut it either. You're definitely right, toddlers are irrational.

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  21. Part of being a parent is dabbing on the Mercurochrome (red stuff) to the graze that came about as a result of the inevitable fall.
    My husband thinks I'm crazy, but I reason every thing out with my 5 year old (have done from day dot). She may hate me for it later, but she'll always understand why something is the way it is.

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  22. Lol. Reminds me of the Honest Toddler's issue with broken crackers. {Sigh} I guess I'll be there soon enough...

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  23. With toddlers, it really is tough to placate them and they get disappointed so easily!

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  24. Isaiah was exactly the same way! A broken string cheese, a broken tortilla chip, he even cried when a rubberband broke one day, saying "now it's straight!!"
    The advice I got was to let him be upset, but to not give in by giving him a new one. Sometimes I did it sometimes I didn't, he's OK now. He doesn't care if his fry, string cheese, toy - whatever, is broken.
    You're a good mom, you've got the right idea.

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