The Yin and Yang of Toddlers

Yin:  unbelievably cute and lovable miniature person.

Yang:  contrarian proto-demon with a mischievous penchant for pain.

This Sunday I got to see both sides of Baby Harbat.  Our plan in the morning was to go for a hike at a nearby park.  Getting her dressed and ready involves seemingly simple things:  breakfast, potty, diaper, clothes, snacks, and water.  No, not simple.  It started with going to the bathroom, which involves two seconds on the potty and twenty minutes washing her hands, made more exciting since she can now reach and control the faucet.  By the time I got her diaper on and tried to get her flailing legs into pants, I was at frustration overload.  My wife stepped in to be the voice of calm and reason.  She too, hit her max, and I had to come back in and finish the job.  This is just the pants, mind you.

I don’t think I’ve been that frustrated in a long time.  Because here you have the love of your life, one who you will protect above all others, and she is actively trying to kick you in the face and is laughing while she does it.  My forehead still hurts where she clawed at it.

Our walk in the park was fantastic.  We brought our off-road wagon and BH alternated riding and eating Goldfish crackers while walking and eating Goldfish.  For the last bit, she lay down in the wagon and was swaddled with sweaters so she could look up at tatters of cloud scudding across the clear sky and the cottonwoods shivering in the freshening autumn wind.  She looked relaxed, beatific.

Then we got home and she didn’t take a nap.  We all needed a nap.  So we got her up and into the stroller, by which point I blew my stack again as she fussed and screamed.  For the next hour we strolled through Oktoberfest in town, got a cup of chai, and came back to give her a quick lunch.  Then I put her down for a nap and collapsed in bed for almost 3 hours.  The rest of the day was idyllic, both myself and Baby Harbat in a narcotic bliss from our afternoon naps.

How, you ask, could it be so frustrating?  I’ll have to capture one of her fits on video, in 3d. Then you can dodge blows and flung food.  Then I will drive to your house and punch you in the face.  Or, if you have cats, I’ll ask you to bathe them and put them into pantyhose.  Or I’ll have your boss at work give you a raise, take it away, insult you, give you the raise again, then take it away.

The terrible twos are more terrible than I could imagine, for what they turn me into.  I try to be the calm, loving pater familias, but I sense a tantrum-prone toddler of my own just under the surface.  If you try to match a toddler’s tantrum with your own, you lose.  If you try to clamp down a toddler’s flailing legs, you lose.  If you try to reason with a toddler to do something they don’t like, you lose.  If you lose it, you lose.  Wanna play?

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Writer, architect, father, husband.

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3 comments on “The Yin and Yang of Toddlers
  1. Babs says:

    Deep slow breaths, time out in a not-so-pleasant space, and whatever you do, don't plan to stick to any pre-planned schedule. Barring that, whisky straight up might help. Been there done that. They love you but are just experimenting with their control over you. Let there be no question about who is in control….the 2 yr. old! 🙂

  2. psoutowood says:

    This is exactly right. While you think you are in control, it's really the toddler using cuteness/tantrum mind control.

  3. Wendy says:

    So, squirt bottles and a short sharp sound (e.g. sst! sst!) don't work on mini people? Uh-oh, that is our nuclear option for behavior modification. What about bursting into noisy tears? Then when she freezes in shock, slam her into the pants before she can blink. 😉 Works on Nick. (just kidding) Glad you guys got a nap. Naps are awesome.

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