Saturday, March 28, 2009

trials and tribulations

I'm not sure if you people know this, but being the mom of a toddler is really hard work. Case in point:

Our neighbor/landlord Meredith had a little get-together at her house Thursday night, just a casual thing to help some of the neighbors get acquainted. I thought it sounded like a lot of fun, and I am always looking for opportunities to meet new people, so despite the fact that Timothy had some networking event to attend, I decided to brave the wilds of single-parentdom and took A to the party all by myself.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. What I had forgotten (or never knew in the first place) was that taking Alex to someone's house - especially the house of someone without a young child, a house full of lovely, clean furniture, lovely white walls, and lovely, very breakable glass decor displayed atop lovely child-sized tables - and then asking him not to touch anything is like locking a fat man alone inside a Burger King and convincing him to steer clear of the Triple Whoppers with Cheese. Yeah, good luck with that.

It is somewhat difficult to hold a coherent conversation with another adult while your child is trying to drop his sippy cup into a decorative urn or attempting to pick a fight with a large labrador by yanking his tail or testing out the stain resistance of the upholstery fabric on the dining room chairs. And it didn't help that I was the only parent there, amidst a bunch of childless people that could not fully sympathize with my plight. But everyone was very nice and did their best to entertain Alex and help keep him out of trouble - especially Meredith, who was very sweet about letting Alex do his thing - and that definitely made my evening more enjoyable.

I realize that I am making Alex sound like a total spoiled rotten brat, one of those kids who runs amok in public and you wonder what his parents did wrong to make him that way, but I'm pretty sure he is just a normal 20-month-old boy. And to be fair, he is normally very well-behaved, at least in familiar places where he knows his limits. But to throw him into a new situation, where he has no choice but to test his boundaries if only to see where they lie, I can't really blame him for wreaking a little havoc. I can put him in time-out, however. Which I did. Twice. Right on the floor in the hallway. He calmed down a bit after that, had some snacks and played nice with the dogs. Rather than torturing Luke the Lab, he laid down with him on the floor to take a "nap". To get the true effect, imagine the sound of Alex's fake snoring when you view the picture below.

Lucky for him (and me), the party started to move outside, where he had a little more freedom to run wild and I didn't have to worry so much about what he was destroying. All I really had to worry about was whether he was traipsing through the flowers beds or climbing on the chairs with muddy feet or crawling under the table to play peek-a-boo between people's legs. Sigh.

I think I just have to accept that, without the aid of a straight jacket and/or heavy sedatives, my child is simply not the type to sit still and quiet for more than thirty seconds. He's so curious and full of energy and loves nothing more than to run and play and explore, and to expect him to sit still and quiet (without the aid of a straight jacket and/or heavy sedatives) when there are so many new things to discover is just not fair. And the real challenge for me is being able to strike a balance when it comes to dealing with my spirited child in a public place. I don't want to be the completely neurotic mom who constantly scolds her child just for being childlike, nor do I want to be the mom who can't get her obnoxious, spoiled child under control and doesn't really seem to care.

I'd like to think I fall somewhere in between those extremes. Or at least I try to. As a result, A managed not to break anything and had a lot of fun and didn't annoy people too much...that I was aware of, anyway. He played with Meredith and climbed in the crape myrtles and talked to the plants before we headed home for the night.

Despite all my griping, he really is a good, sweet boy who just happens to be a handful sometimes. And I try not to spoil him too much or be a pushover or let him have every little thing he desires, but it's hard. I mean, who could say no to this face?

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