A Blogazine, based out of Park Slope, Brooklyn, that features fun and interesting articles. Topics include: parenting, society, real estate, career, style, spirituality and more. Written contributions are always welcome!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

They Don’t Call ‘em the Terrible Twos for Nothing

By Rachael Nachtwey

Although I’ve taken care of many kids throughout the years, I’m never fully prepared for the frustration of the defiant toddler. I’ve seen even-tempered little ones undergo the most rapid personality changes, leading one to question if some little demon had burrowed in. My toddler niece fascinates me with her ability to play happily one second, then become red-faced and spout irrational tears the next. And Ethan, my normally obedient two-year-old charge, has recently decided that he is going to “forget” every rule that he had previously learned. In fact, he seems to have identified several Rachael pushing buttons and I, in turn, have learned what really turns my crank.

One recent afternoon, Ethan was definitely displaying some testing behaviors (i.e. doing the polar opposite of everything I had asked of him). However, as the day progressed, he seemed to be shaping up so I allowed him to take his new scooter outside. After several blocks of good behavior, I decided it was only fair to reward him on a warm, sunny day with some ice cream. Still donning his adorable dome shaped helmet, we sat on the steps of the Tasti-Delight, sharing a melting cup of vanilla soft serve.

As he proceeded to dump the remaining bit, I said, “All right. Let’s get going to the park!” at which he jumped up and yelled, “More ice cream!”

“You just had ice cream, silly!” I laughed. “Another day.” Now I don’t know if there was any correlation between the ice cream and the crack-like induced state that followed but here’s what happened:

Even though he didn’t tantrum or even really complain, within seconds, the horns surfaced. After scooting a few feet down the sidewalk, he suddenly stopped, dropped the scooter and just started running! The kid was greased lightning, I do not jest. I bolted and managed to grab him by the collar which made me feel like sort of bow-tied store clerk from the 50’s who was going to teach “those darn hoodlum thieves a lesson!” I pulled him close to me, got down to his level, and said, “What are you doing? You can’t run off like that!” while pointing at the cars that were “very, VERY dangerous!” I thought it registered in his expression. He looked solemn enough. A bit remorseful, too? Or so I thought…

We started off again but within moments, he dumped the scooter once more and at this point, I wondered if he was just getting tired. Spotting some chairs in front of the Tea Lounge, I suggested a little rest. We had just plopped down when without any warning, he popped out of his chair and sprinted toward the street. My heart in my throat, I commenced some sort of military move, launching myself and tackling him. Once I had him in my grasp, I proceeded to lose it.

“That’s IT!” I yelled, not caring that the patrons of the Tea Lounge were now staring at the spectacle that had become The R&C Show. I carried him back to the chair and firmly planted him down. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! YOU KNOW YOU AREN’T SUPPOSED TO RUN OFF! YOU COULD GET HIT BY A CAR!!” I shouted. What was killing me about this whole situation was that he knows these rules. Very well.

We were nose to nose when I said, “You need a TIME OUT!”

He squirmed, whimpered, and cried for Mommy. He tried more than once to get out of the chair, which ratcheted my irritability up to the nth degree but by the time the two minutes were over, I think we had both calmed down. I took him by the hand and said, very evenly, “No park. We’re going home and you have to hold my hand the whole way there”. I couldn’t get horrific visions of him running in front of a car out of my head.

Ethan knew that he had pushed his Rachael a bit too far. Typically, he fights me when I grab his hand but this time, he allowed me to hold it firmly the entire walk home. By the time we arrived, I was completely exhausted and suggested some quiet time. He asked to play with his wooden blocks which seemed like a fine idea.

How wrong I was! He got way too keyed up by the construction and subsequent destruction of his towers. As he excitedly rummaged through his booty of blocks, he threw one of the large ones behind him, accidentally smacking me right above the eye. Hard.

The combination of extreme pain and general frustration with the entire afternoon caused me to burst into tears. I ran into the bathroom to examine the damage and also to minimize the fear I was probably evoking in Ethan. I also realized I was very much in need of a breather. As I sobbed over the bathroom sink, I could hear Ethan pressing his face to the door.

“It’s all right, Rachael, yes? You be okay?” His sweet little voice through the door sounded so genuine, so grown up for his two-year-old body.

After I had collected myself, I said, “Yes, I’ll be okay”.

We all have our moments, I guess, when we need to lose it, whether that’s with our scooters, in the sandbox, or over the bathroom sink. When Ethan’s mom came home and I told her what had happened, she demanded that he apologize. “I sorry, Rachael” he said, burying his head into her shoulder.

Amazing how powerful an apology is, even from a toddler. Even more meaningful? Knowing that his mom has removed the wooden blocks from his toy chest because unlike Ethan, I don’t look so cute in helmets.

Rachael Nachtwey is a Brooklyn Nanny, a freelance writer and regular contributor to Hip Slope Mama. She can be reached at Rachael.Nachtwey@gmail.com. She also writes on her blog at www.thenightway.blogspot.com