Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Letter to TJ: When I Got Mad at My Toddler

I got mad at TJ the other day ... Here is a letter I wrote to him about that priceless moment:

You know, TJ. I really haven't gotten mad at you up to this point. Of course, I've been upset, stressed out and frustrated over your terrible two temper tantrums. And sure, I've wanted to jump off a bridge more than a few times. But, I've always blamed it on your "toddler hormones" flaring up.

You've gotten a pass because, even though it feels like you are trying to kill me by throwing yourself on the floor, screaming, crying, whining, and making messes non-stop throughout the day, it's really not you. You are just frustrated by what you aren't able to do. It's not your fault that you don't understand that when you try to hook a gazillion trains together, they just aren't gonna make it down a descending track. They're gonna fall into pieces. But, you're just two years old. You haven't grasped the fact that you are not all powerful.

And you also don't understand the purpose of boundaries and limits. I mean, I really can empathize. How are you to understand why you can't do what you want, when you want, and how you want? You were born doing exactly that from day one.

But, okay, kiddo. You are now 2.5 and you can talk. I mean, you are so good at speaking, that you negotiate with Daddy and me every day, several times a day - whether it's about eating, sleeping, napping, playing, snacks, tv, bedtime stories, bath time.. the list never ends. I know that you know what you are doing, dude!

So, today, when I told you specifically not to touch or pull down the kiddie table and chairs that I put up on the sofa THREE times, and you still did it THREE times, I started getting mad. It's not hormones at this point, TJ. You were really just being disobedient, buster!

It's really for your safety. Because if you pulled down the table and chairs, they would come crashing down and crack your head open. You could really get hurt! You have always minded me about this and you have never gone near it when I've asked you not to. It's been a regular bi-weekly, routine, as I clear the floors for the cleaners to mop and vaccuum.

But today, you were adamantly challenging me, looking straight at me, and grabbing to pull the furniture down the same second I just asked you not to!

I decided to flash you my "You better not touch that or else you are gonna get SSSSOO in trouble!" Never mind that I had no idea what I would do to you, if you disobeyed me because Daddy and I do not hit you. We do not spank. I could give you a time out, but that's a "regular, everyday consequence." I needed something more serious as a consequence, because if you didn't listen to me, you could really get hurt.

As I gave you my best "evil eye", a really confused expression came over your face.

"Mommy," you began to ask, eyes full of concern, "What happened to your face?! Why does it look so bad?"

I couldn't help, but bust out laughing, spray launching into the air. You really haven't a clue, do you? It didn't matter. Your face brightened and broke out in a happy smile. With some forced chuckles, you attempt to fain laughter, just to join me in the moment.

"What so funny, Mommy?" You ask, wanting in on the joke.

"Oh, nothing, TJ. You're just too funny." I smile, as I pick you up and move you safely away from the furniture.



Vered said...

This was beautiful!

My own "or else" is usually taking away a privilege such as TV or sweets (they have a small piece of candy every night after dinner). But sometimes I find that just being mad at them has the same effect as a "punishment". They hate to see me mad or sad.

Bonnie Gray said...

Vered - That is so good that your kids care about how you feel. It's so valuable to nurture kids that can empathize... Oh, I like the concept of sweets/dessert after dinner - something to look forward to at the end or the day.

Poli said...

Very nice post, I loved your letter! You made me laugh and cry at the same time:)

Angie said...

Such a cute post! Two year olds are Mr. and Ms. Independent. They want to be a part of everything and do it all by themselves. Hey, who knows better than a two year old, right?

Awww...they are just too precious, aren't they? : )

organicsyes said...

I remember these days...
My boys are so much older now, but every now and then I am reminded of the twos and threes...things really have changed now that I can reason with them and they understand consequences in a different way.

Thanks for your post...great that you wrote it down to share later:)

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