What happened to toddlers supposedly having short attention spans? What happened to the terrible twos just being about throwing emotional fits and no more? What happened to toddlers forgetting they were, in their minds, unfairly wronged by their parents when they were refused of their demands?
I’m beginning to think husband and I created a superbreed child. Buddy is a child with uncanny insight into mechanical development and has a knack for thinking outside of the box like his father. But he also got his strong will, determination and unbelievable attention to detail from me.
Instead of getting easily distracted by Elmo’s world mid-fit like he used to, Buddy now makes demands and sticks with it. He isn’t easily deterred. In fact, he will purposely ignore me when I attempt to bribe him with TV, candy and stories. He completely overlooks the temptations that a typical toddler would jump at and keeps pushing me for what he wants. He is beyond persistent.
Then, when he realizes I’m not going to give in to his demands, it’s time for a meltdown. But, instead of having the meltdown and eventually getting bored with it, he holds a grudge. A big, fat grudge. He remembers when his Satan of a mother refused him another sippy cup of milk and gave him *gag* water instead. He remembers, and he plans. He lies in waiting. He waits for the perfect time to strike back. To tell me it is not okay to overlook his age or intelligence because there will be payback, and it will be merciless.
Oh, he does the typical screaming fits with long, drawn out one-sided conversations that are comprised mostly of the word “NO!”. He does the throwing things game and the collapsing-in-the-middle-of-the-store-and-screaming bit. He does it all. But he goes beyond the necessary protocol for a toddler’s typical refusal to behave and listen.
When you’re least expecting it, he sneaks in a stealth attack or he makes a great escape despite our best efforts to keep him contained.
Stealth attack: Once, when I dared to gift Buddy with our atrocious well water he went into his typical fit. When he realized I wasn’t paying attention to him, he went into the living room and quietly sat cross legged on the living room floor with his new sippy cup and just examined it from every angle. The level of concentration on his face was amusing to me at the time. His little eyebrows were furrowed. His eyes were moderately squinted in a way that reminded me of someone that was trying to work through a particularly difficult math equation. His mouth was screwed up into a little pout on the side of his face. I left him to his work, assuming he was just checking out the colors and pictures on the side of his sippy cup.
About fifteen minutes later I had finished cleaning up the kitchen and turned around to find Buddy standing in the kitchen doorway with a diabolical smile on his face. He was still holding his sippy cup. I eyed him cautiously for a moment, knowing full well the potential he had to pull wool over my eyes sometimes. When I assessed his stance and face and found nothing to be concerned with, I continued on around him and into the living room.
I stepped in a puddle of water. I hate wet socks. HATE. Buddy knows this because when he sees me step in Remmy’s water bowl slobbers and throw a fit similar to a toddler, he goes running into the bedroom to fetch me another pair of socks. (He does have his moments of sweetness, I’ll give him that.)
I growled to myself and ripped off my now completely ruined sock and headed towards the bedroom. *Hmm… wonder why Buddy didn’t get me some socks…*
Another puddle of water. I scowled and growled and ripped off the other sodden sock. *Why the heck is there water all ov… OH!* I turned around to find Buddy, still smiling, standing in the midst of a living room full of water puddle land mines. I now noticed the lid of the sippy cup was loose. He figured out how to take it off. With me watching, he took off the lid and dumped another puddle on the floor. “BUDDY! NO!” He, of course, giggled and ran away.
I think he may have inherited my vengeful spirit as well…
Great Escapes: Buddy has a knack for thinking outside of the box. No matter what we do, we can’t contain him to his bed come bedtime. We had to take the railing off of his crib because he figured out how to stack his blanket and pillow to climb out. For fear of him hitting his little noggin we transitioned it into a toddler bed. From there, with his new-found freedom, all hell broke loose. What it came down to was either go back to his room for hours on end and ask, tell, plead and demand that he stay in bed, or put up a gate. After a couple of weeks of trying to talk to a toddler (seriously? talk to a toddler? what were we thinking?) we opted for the gate. He can sleep on the floor after throwing a fit all night for all we cared at that point. We weren’t spending our few hours of evening free time chasing him around.
That’s where we made our biggest mistake. We underestimated him.
What started out as a crapshoot attempt at making a step-ladder with all the wrong objects around his room, became a full-scale escape attempt every morning. I swear he spent that night quietly contemplating his bedroom belongings like a Macgyver baby and created an escape out of things that I would never have given him credit for if I wasn’t positive he was the only one in his bedroom.
Almost every morning I wake up to Buddy climbing into bed with me despite the clearly high enough gate in his bedroom doorway. When I go to check how he escaped, I’ve found a number of escape setups. He’s used his lidded garbage can. He’s used his blankets, somehow sort-of folded to give him height.Yes, I swear my toddler attempted to fold a blanket. He’s used his toy basket turned upside down. But what shocked me was that he put a couple of tin lunch boxes underneath the wicker basket for a more sturdy foothold. My two favorite escape methods to date are his books and his stuffed animals. He stacked them next to the gate. Biggest on the bottom, smallest on the top. Someone tell me… how, how did he figure that out? How did he figure out that would make it sturdiest?
Another interesting thing about Buddy is his love of figuring out puzzles. But not just any puzzles. He wants to know how everything and anything works. Buddy has absolutely no reservations about pushing foreign buttons. He loves buttons, levers, switches and everything else electrical and mechanical. He especially loves remotes, electronic devices like DVD players and game consoles (especially turning them off when you’re right in the middle of a game… *grumble grumble*), light switches, doorknobs and anything else man-made that you can imagine.
Unfortunately for us, while this one may be innocent fun instead of spiteful vengeance, it costs us in electronic repairs and hot water.
Why hot water, you ask? Well, he figured out how to turn off our water heater. Yeah. Cold showers aren’t too high on our “fun stuff to do” list.
It’s interesting to watch him operate on a regular day-to-day basis. I’m not sure if he would have been like this without watching me, but he is kind of a neat freak. After I take my shoes off from getting the mail, he takes my shoes and sets them on the shoe rack next to one another. He does the same with his own shoes. If he notices his potty is crooked, he will straighten it so it’s perfectly perpendicular to the wall. He will sometimes clean up his toys without my asking him. The list goes on…
I would have been perfectly content with a child of average intelligence and curiosity. Don’t get me wrong I’m happy to have such a bright son. I really am… but sometimes he’s just very hard to keep up with. He’s very intense. I know he will grow out of it and grow into an intelligent adult, but this stage just feels endless sometimes. The thing that scares me the most is that it’s not just Buddy I have to keep an eye on. All three kids will get older. This means that if the girls are anything like Buddy, they’ll get smarter and more diabolical as well. Probably more so because they’ll have a mentor in Buddy.
As I have no choice in the matter I guess I’ll just have to keep surviving. In a way I kind of can’t wait to see what kinds of shenanigans the girls can come up with. Will they match Buddy? Will they surpass him? I don’t know, but I pray daily that I will be able to manage the oncoming tsunami of three toddlers under one roof.
Does anyone know where I can get a lifetime supply of coffee?