Sanity, although a relative term anyway, means something unique to parents, particularly those with little ones.
My kids have a way of keeping me on my toes. In many ways, they are extremely unpredictable, while in other matters they are routine.
Beckett, the toddler, rules the house for the most part, but it’s interesting that my younger son, Carson, can take charge when he puts his mind to it. This is a new phenomenon in my world.
Since we have become accustomed to his laidback approach, when he actually acts like a normal 7-month-old baby it surprises us and throws us (by that I mean me) into a tizzy.
At one point last weekend, and it conveniently enough just happened to be when my wife was out running an errand, something got to Carson and he had one of the worst meltdowns I can remember for him. There were huge tears, a runny nose and a tomato face. While I had seen that from him on rare occasions previously, he added a new wrinkle to his repertoire. He started kicking his chubby little legs and flailing his arms with all his might. It was clear nothing was hurting him. He was just royally annoyed and irked.
What made matters worse was Beckett took note of his little brother losing his cool and followed suit. A little competitive streak seemed to surface because he pitched a tremendous fit of his own. What made this a hairy situation was I essentially had to pick one child to comfort at the time, and I had to go with my youngest since I knew I could quickly bring the 7-month-old a little peace by simply picking him up. It’s a little more complicated with my 2-year-old.
It seems Carson was just terribly overtired, as I did not put him down for his normal afternoon nap as he has grown accustomed. He let me know in no uncertain terms that’s unacceptable with some more leg kicks to the stomach and huge tears before finding his groove, falling asleep in my arms before I even got to his crib.
Once Carson was down, Beckett gathered his composure, but not before I had some time to marvel over the differences between a toddler and baby meltdown.
Toddlers lose their cool often, but there are clear lines of demarcation between a true fit of annoyance and a cry of significance.
For example, when Beckett fell off our slide a couple weeks ago, it goes without saying that was a justified ball session. That’s a cry of fear and pain, and these can be as tough on the parents as on the child. However, when my toddler gets upset over not being allowed to have his 19th and 20th cracker of the day, that’s not a real cry. That’s more like a screaming session intended to sound like he’s crying. That can be deemed fake almost every time.
As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with a little crying, but I do start to get a little frenzied when they both go at it at the same time. That’s a little tough on my nerves, but maybe it’s just because I’m a dad and I surmise my toddler joins the crying game because he realizes it rattles me.
Introducing new things to my kids is a lot of fun for me.
Last weekend, we made the best of a beautiful day and took the truck out on Assateague. For my kids, which at their age require a load of toys, food, baby bottles, chairs, diapers, lunch and so on, this seems to be the best course to take when it comes to spending a day on the beach.
Although Carson did not seem to be overly fascinated with driving on the beach, Beckett was enthralled by it. He was squealing and clapping his hands, likely a result of confusion over what we were doing and happiness over returning to what seems to be his favorite place these days – the beach.
He was creating such a ruckus in the back that he was distracting me from the task at hand of keeping up my speed when I really just wanted to get a look at his smiling face. That was not in the cards, as anyone who has ever driven in soft sand realizes stopping is not exactly the best move.
A few days later, Beckett and Carson were introduced to something else foreign to them – a bath at the same time. To keep social services away, I should point out Carson was inside a baby bath inside the tub.
While I do not think Carson blinked the entire time, surely overwhelmed by the situation, particularly his big brother standing over him naked and laughing and pointing out his nose and belly button, Beckett loved it and actually helped with the job at hand.
Normally, my eldest is a terror in the bathtub, splashing about and tossing his rubber toys all over the bathroom. Considering these tendencies, I was particularly proud of how he adjusted his antics with his little brother in the tub. He mellowed out and basically just stood there and watched, handing me things every now and again while muttering “Car- Car clean” the entire time.
It was remarkable how once I removed Carson from the tub Beckett returned to his wild ways, quickly casting aside all the toys that were in the tub and splashing water all over the place. That seems to me to be a sure sign of a little bit of maturity from my 2-year-old.
In the interest of fairness and balance, it’s worth pointing out five minutes after leaving the bathroom he yanked Carson’s towel away from me and threw it down the stairs. The fact it sent me running down the stairs, like a game of fetch, he found hilarious.