There's a section in my "Positive Discipline for Toddlers" book entitled "Sleeping, Eating, and Toileting: You Can't Make 'Em Do It." My response to that? "AMEN/AAAARRRRRRGGGHH!" Sometimes it feels that my entire life with my three-year-old is one never ending power struggle, generally centering on these three things—plus sibling rivalry issues. What frustrates me the most is Soren’s utter lack of ability to use reason. I realize this is a developmental thing that will come with time, but his complete irrationality drives me to the brink nearly every day. An example:
Soren: NO! I DON’T WANT YOU TO CHANGE MY DIAPER! IT HURTS ME!
Mommy, patient and cheerful: I know it’s not fun, sweetie. But it will hurt a lot more if the poop stays on your bum for a long time.
Soren: I DON’T WANT TO HAVE MY DIAPER CHANGED!
Mommy, patient and cheerful: Just think: if you put all your poopoos in the potty, you would never have to have another diaper change again! Wouldn’t that be great?
Soren: NO! THAT NOT BE GREAT!
Mommy, a little less patient and cheerful: But anyway, for now we need to change your diaper. Come lie down.
Soren runs and hides behind the chair.
Mommy, trying to maintain semblance of patient cheeriness: Soren? Would you like to have your diaper changed on the rug in the hall or the one in the front room?
Soren: I DON’T WANT TO HAVE MY DIAPER CHANGED! I DON’T WANT TO HAVE MY DIAPER CHANGED!
Mommy, hurling positive discipline book over the stairwell: Dammit, Soren, if you don’t come out here and lie down by the time I get to three, you’re going to go to your bedroom for a long, long time! ONE…TWO….THR**
Soren comes and lies down. He waits until he is in a very precarious position in which poop could potentially be smeared given a wrong move, then starts thrashing around and kicking. This, of course, leads to lots of mommy fury, enraged bum wiping, and an unceremonious flight into his bedroom. And when Soren has been freed from his room, a similar battle follows. (Mommy: “Soren, here’s a rag. Come wipe up this poop.” Soren: “NO! I CAN’T CLEAN UP THE POOP! IT’S YUCKY!)
But Soren’s lack of rationality really rears its ugly head when Liam is around. Soren might spot Liam looking at him and immediately break into a series of convulsions and shrieking that closely resemble a multi-spirit exorcism. Last week Liam smiled at and began crawling towards his big brother. I initially thought this was cute; however, seeing Soren’s reaction, I had to look at Liam again to make sure he hadn’t morphed into a homicidal maniac crashing unleashed through the room with a freshly sharpened chainsaw. And if Soren reacts this way to Liam’s existence, you can only imagine what happens when Liam looks at or—oh, my various gods!—touches something that Soren thinks is his.
But it’s not all chainsaws and exorcisms. Sometimes Soren is cute, too. This is why I have not yet succumbed to the urge to list him on Craig’s List as “Free to a Good Home.” For example, last Saturday I took the boys to watch their cousin Arielle play in a volleyball tournament at the middle school in Shelley. Soren became quickly bored with the game but turned his attentions to the two “older women” sitting in front of us: a couple of volleyball players from Aberdeen waiting for their team’s turn to play. To win them with his many charms, Soren asked them their names (Kayla and Ashlee) and then proceeded to sing the alphabet song to them— not once, not twice, but three times. He informed me that Kayla was his “favorite,” and then told her, “I love you, girl.”
Soren’s been working on developing his sense of humor. It’s not uncommon to hear him say, “I was just teasin’ you, Mommy,” or asking “Are you just teasin’ me?” Occasionally when it’s time to change his diaper, he’ll lie down in front of me with his head where his bum needs to be. “Change my head!” he’ll say, and you can tell he thinks this is frightfully clever. (And yes, I do put a clean diaper on his head; it turns out that diapers make pretty decent adjustable hats.) One morning I put him in his room and told him not to come out until he was dressed (he is fully capable of dressing himself; he sometimes just thinks it’s more fun for mommy to do it instead). He was quiet for a few moments and then called, “I dressed, Mommy!” I came to check and found him still wearing only a diaper. I closed the door and waited a few more moments until he again called, “I dressed, Mommy!” This time when I opened the door he was running around the room with the upper half of his body stuffed into his pillow, bumping into things and giggling like a madman. “See Mommy?" he said, "I dressed!”
My kind parents, may peace be upon them forever and ever, took Soren to their house this fine Sunday afternoon around nap time and, after much ado, Grandma finally got him to fall asleep on her lap in front of the TV upstairs. Grandpa, not realizing that Soren had drifted off, began hollering from the basement: "Kathy! Kathy? Kathy!?" Soren stirred, woke up, and then said, just like Grandma would, "Yes, dear?"
And I must write about Walter. Walter is the name of the sunglasses holder on the ceiling of my car. Soren decided one day that the sunglasses holder, with its mouth-like veneer and two ey-lights above, was a man and that he, Soren, wanted to talk to "that man." Through their conversations, it came out that "that man" was named Walter, and Walter and Soren frequently have conversations when we're driving places. After we've arrived wherever we're going and Walter goes back to sleep, Soren frequently remarks: "Walter is a nice man. I like him."
Soren's been singing a lot lately— he sings a lot of childhood classics: “Skip to my Lou,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “The Farmer in the Dell,” “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” He also sings the Dora the Explorer theme song, a couple lullabies, a few primary songs. He makes up his own songs as well. Several times a day he'll ask me, in all sincerity, "Mommy? Do you know the muffin man?"
Tonight when I put Soren to bed I lay down with him and sang a few songs. He sang along a little, but my favorite was when I sang him “La La Lu,” and he sang along with me in his quavering little boy voice. “Wah wah woo, wah wah woo, my widdo star sweeper…” That sweet little human being, those gigantic blue eyes, the uninhibited little voice, the “w” sound instead of the “l”, the innocent tenderness captured in that disproportionate little body…it was enough to give me the strength to sustain his little life for at least another day.
Trying out Daddy's boots. Walking was a bit arduous.
Trying out Daddy's boots. Walking was a bit arduous.
**No, I do not actually swear at my child. But sometimes I want to.