Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The good fight

Not to knock parenting, because it is 95% awesome, but that crappier 5% seems to be getting the better of me these days. I looked in the mirror a minute ago and realized I’m starting to resemble a White Walker: pale, gaunt, unblinking.... Now why would that be? Oh yeah—“we” are in the throes of toddlerhood and frankly, it is, as the French would say, compliqué (which is just a euphemism for “horrendous”). At 18 months, we are discovering what the “first adolescence” is all about. Basically, it involves one’s toddler responding in the negative to all questions asked, refusing to eat, refusing to sleep, and generally asserting his little self through opposition. 

Go on—ask me anything.

Here’s what meal time looks like these days:

I try to put little g. into his high chair.
Little g. says, “Non!” (He is half French after all—I obviously blame that half for all of this.)
I manage to finagle him into his seat and place food in front of him.
Little g. says, “Non!”
I try various tactics: explaining, demonstrating, bargaining, pleading, threatening, shouting, etc.
Little g. says, “Non!”

Here’s what bath time looks like:

I announce that it is bath time.
Little g. says, “Non!”
I put him into the bath and ask him to please sit down.
Little g. says, “Non!”
I finish bathing him and hold out a towel.
Little g. says, “Non!”

Diaper changes are similar, with the addition of flailing arms and legs, sometimes accompanied by bellowing—just to really drive home his message.

In addition to this first adolescence thing, we are also dealing with the dreaded “18-month sleep regression.” No one forewarned us of this of course, but it turns out that there all kinds of sleep regressions. There’s the 4-month one, the 9-month one, the 12-month one, the 15-month one, and now, the 18-month one. In between, there’s teething, sickness, separation anxiety, nightmares, and a host of other reasons why “sleeping through the night” has become a distant memory—if it ever even existed at all (it may just have been another hallucination, like pleasant meals). The irony of course is that real adolescents love to sleep, yet whoever came up with this miniature version (I think it was Satan) conveniently left that part out. Eating disorders and general defiance, yes; appreciation for sleep, dream on.

Anyone else miss high school?

I love our pediatrician’s responses to all of these issues—everything is always so obvious to her:

Me: “My son keeps waking up screaming at 2:00 am and 4:00 am.” 
Doc: “Close the door.” 

Me: “My son has discovered how to make himself gag for fun.” 
Doc: “Don’t react.” 

Me: “Should that vaccination mark still be on his arm?” 
Doc: “It will fade.” 

Well OK then. But €50 later, I get home and realize she’s either childless, or the mother of robots, because if things were that clear-cut then typing “child sleep problems” into Google would not yield 27 million results, closely followed by “child eating problems” at 26 million. Plus, close the door? I’ll let her explain that to our neighbors, who all seem to be suffering from acute noise intolerance (in addition to general intolerance).

The more compassionate say to hang in there, that this will not last forever. I don’t know why, but whenever anyone pronounces that phrase—this won’t last forever—I just want to cry. Maybe part of me doesn’t believe them: yes it will last forever! Waaaaaaah! But of course I know they’re right. So what do we do in the meantime? Enjoy it, I suppose (that’s the other thing they say). What’s truly insane is that in the midst of wondering whether I’m winning any battles, let alone the war, I’d kinda like to add another little soldier to the opposition army. Damn you, maternal instinct! I used to think you didn’t exist, and now I can’t shut you up!

Maybe I should just embrace my new look.

Leave sleep to the mortals! *Sob*