As most of you know my little guy can be a handful. OK, so that's the understatement of the year - he is an extremely spirited boy who overflows with toddler tendencies (more physically active than most kids his age, very strong willed, very alert and aware of everything, and he is extremely emotional and LOUD). My older brother Terry actually calls him "Chaos personified." My parents, though they absolutely adore him, confess they can only watch him for two hours tops because of how much work he takes.
Also, as I've mentioned before, I have been hurt and felt somewhat belittled when I am just trying to vent about how tired I am or frustrated with Toby's extremes, and other mom's either try to "one-up me" OR give me this condescending "your-a-first-time-mom" look and say that my son is no different from any other child his age (even though they have only witnessed about 10 minutes of his vivacious enthusiasm for life). I used to try to convince them that actually I have been with many, many, many kids his age and haven't found his equal in stamina or noise level, but I grew tired of it and eventually just let them think that I was a naive, new mom who is not use to the trials of toddlerhood.
And then from time to time, usually on the easier days with Toby, I would think to myself: Maybe they are right. Maybe Toby IS just like all the other kids his age and I'm just a whiny first-time mom that needs to toughen up.
It wasn't until a couple weekends ago that I received pure vindication for the last 16 months of my life...
Nick's sister Tonee, out of the goodness of her heart, offered to watch Toby so Nick and I could spend some quality time together. I was a bit nervous (for Tonee) but knew that Nick and I definitely were way past due on having some good one-on-one time. As we were about to leave we were kind of apologizing ahead of time for how Toby may behave. She could sense our reluctance and nervousness and said, "Guys, I have had 4 kids of my own. You don't need to worry about a thing! Go have a good time."
And we did. We went out for pizza at Pier 49, stocked up on some delicious cookies at "Smart Cookie" and then ended the evening with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. We were gone for a good 4 1/2 hours - the longest both of us had ever been away from our little man. The evening proved to be therapeutic, relaxing, with maybe a dash of separation anxiety (I admit it!)
When we arrived home the look on Tonee's face said it all. I waited anxiously for her report.
"Oh my goodness you guys, that child does not stop! Where in the world does he get his energy from? NONE of my four kids were anything like that. At one point I thought he was tired because he became pretty fussy so I tried to put him down for a nap....."
[I smiled knowingly]
"...I have never seen a child fight sleep so hard! You could tell he was tired but he just won't let himself fall asleep! And then sometimes he would just scream because he would get so angry at something. His whole body would shake because he was screaming SO loud!"
At this point I couldn't help but laugh because I could just picture the entire scene perfectly in my mind. I honestly did feel bad that he was such a handful for her, but inwardly I was relieved knowing that I wasn't crazy and that someone FINALLY understands what a day (or a few hours) with him is really like!
"How do you get anything done in the house? When do you clean?" She asked incredibly.
"Well either I am just too tired and I just leave the clutters for Nick to clean (hehehe), or I try to get it all done after Toby goes to bed for the night."
She nodded her head in agreement. "I guess that would be the only time you could get anything done- or just have a moment to yourself."
A couple days after she left, I decided to a toddler temperament quiz to see where Toby would fall. They broke up the temperament's into 3 categories: 40% of toddlers are Easy/Adaptable, 15% are Cautious/Shy, and then 10% were labeled Spirited/Challenging. Can you guess which category the Tobeman falls into? (In case you are wondering the remaining 35% can be a combo of two different categories).
On the flip side, I've done a lot of reading and have talked to the few parents who have (or had) similar children and I am excited to know that there is a silver lining. The main thing that keeps me afloat and sane is that all the long days and hard work will pay off because most of the time these spunky munchkins end up being extremely bright, outgoing, athletic, adaptable, exhibit strong leadership skills, and usually are very accomplished at whatever they put their mind to. It's just when they are little people learning to put words together, exploring their world, and learning boundaries is when they could definitely drive a person to drink....oh wow, did I really just type that? *cough*
Anyway, a BIG thanks to you who have patiently read and responded to my rantings and vent sessions. I know some of you have had similar experiences (or harder) and I appreciate the support and validation.
I whole-heartedly agree with Elder M. Russell Ballard's sentiments: "[Children] are a sacred privilege that will teach [parents] to become more like God."