You Can't Write a Sit-Com Like This

>> Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Today was "one of those days." Honestly, I was the woman everyone felt sorry for every place I went today. This was one of those days why, "If you don't laugh, you'll probably cry," was invented. And, no, Mama never said there'd be days like this, but she should have. Then again, I probably should have guessed.

For starters, DH had to go to work before Toddler finished his breakfast this morning. Breakfast is DH and Toddler's special time together, so Toddler seriously objected. Seriously. Objected. With shoving. And shouting. Eventually hunger won out, and he inhaled his yogurt. I'm not sure if he ate it or drank it, it was gone so fast.

Then, in spectacular craptastic fashion, we had an appointment with a new doctor today. While I would generally say that my child is (reasonably, typically) well behaved in public, he gets a little bit ... unpredictable? in places where there are too many people wearing scrubs. I mean, hey, come after anyone with enough needles and they have the potential to go postal with no notice. Why should Toddler be any different? Just because I want him to be? Right.

On days like this, I'm never sure which facet of "troublemaker" will emerge -- will he be crying boy? shrieking boy? anxious boy clinging to my leg? boy that wants to use the entire hand sanitizer while mommy and doctor are trying to talk? boy that wants to write on doctor's file or prescription pad? What form of defense will I need to use? How will I handle his brand new refusal to remove his coat indoors? If I push the issue, and he screams and has a fit, what will all the other moms think of me?

Well, in the waiting room everything went well for a good long while. We brought Mickey Mouse along and were playing quietly. Then Toddler got a little silly and started walking in circles around the chairs over and over and over, quietly and well-behaved, sure, and dizzying for me to watch. So, I made the mistake of thinking it would be safe to open my book. Bad choice.

Because ... at that moment, Toddler went around my chair ... and didn't come back. I looked up and found him behind me at the registration desk climbing into the chair we were sitting in to check him in. I don't know what he thought he was doing ... un-registering himself from the appointment list, possibly?

Of course, this is not acceptable, so I had to go get him and tell him to "get down and come back." He thought I was kidding. Nope. Tantrum ensues. Again. We aren't even at lunch yet.

Well, since he was already mad, I decided to confront him on that, "I won't take my coat off" issue I mentioned earlier. This action on my part invoked peak screaming from Toddler, which then prompted me to say such inspired things as, "No. That's enough. Mommy's getting really annoyed right now," (all the polite things you say in public when you are embarrased at your kid's behavior and getting really angry -- not annoyed). Thankfully, at that beautiful shining moment of graceful and successful parenting, the nurse comes out and calls our name.

I picked up the coats, our bag, and said, "C'mon. That's us. It's your turn, and everyone here in the room is glad of it." Well, the room laughed (whew), but Toddler was unimpressed. So, end scene with an exit stage right, with much kicking and screaming, Mom carrying Toddler, a diaper bag, his coat, my coat, and Mickey Mouse.

The nurse was one of those people that make you just wonder. She had a fairly blank look on her face, like life has been hard, and she is too detached from the anxiety and stresses of parents and children in a children's hospital to even notice anymore. Either that or she just isn't all that observant. Hard to tell. Anyway, we walked down the hall, with Toddler literally hollering directly into my ear and things falling periodically from my arms and bruises growing on my thights. She continues moving, calling over her shoulder something I can't possibly hear. With great restraint, I manage to say, "I'm sorry, but with him right in my ear, I just can't hear you. She turns around, pauses for a second, then returns walking, saying the same questions again over her shoulder, in the same pitch.

Okay ... that happened. Now what? Apparently this is a test of my psychic skills. What do nurses usually ask parents when they escort them back to the room? Oh, yes. They confirm last name and birthday. I take a shot in the dark and give her that information. Either I'm brilliant, and she is satisfied, or I'm just looking a little bit more like a clueless idiot than I do with a screaming child yelling, "COAT ON! COAT ON!" in a room at least 80 degrees cool. I suppose I got it right, because she didn't say another word. Then again, maybe she just gave up. Or maybe she decided she didn't care. Hard to tell.

It didn't take the doctor long at all to arrive, but by the time he did, Toddler had reversed his mood with lightning efficiency and had switched to being giddy, and giggling, and engaging in violent hugging. After all the climbing and wicked hugs and jumping Toddler was doing, I'm not sure whether that helped my case or hurt it when the doctor asked me why Toddler had a big shiner on his face. I told the truth. We went to a hotel room, he fell out of bed and met the table with his face on the way down. I mean, is there a good way to answer that question? It's the truth, but does it keep the child abuse investigators away, or does it make me look even more like Parent of the Year?

For the most part, I have to think the visit was a general success. I mean, Toddler was giggling and not screaming, so I can't look like the worst parent in the world, right? As a treat, we went to use some coupons at Chick Fil-A down the street. Toddler was great, still laughing and giggling even through the rain until we got inside, at which time he promptly stood by the door and screamed he wanted to go back outside.

By then I was getting whiplash from the reversals. Once again, I tried my "public parent" coaxing routine, which worked about as well as it did an hour before. Unlike Nurse Blankface at the office, though, here there was a restaurant employee who wanted to try to help. Unfortunately, this made it all the worse. At the point where I am trying to figure out whether to drag him to the counter, to slink out in shame, or to just sell him to the nearest passerby, a random stranger decides to start a conversation. Oh, great. Just what I want right now. He looked over at me and said, "He's two, isn't he?" I nodded, and he said, "Yes, I can see that. All he seems to want to say is, "No!"

Okay, maybe this isn't a hostile crowd. This could work.

Again, with an unpredictable U-turn, Toddler cheers up, starts playing, and even apologizes to the nice employee he was so mean to by saying, "I'm sorry, Nice Lady. Bye, bye!" I almost thought that we didn't have to do carry-out anymore, but I wasn't going to be suckered in. We left anyway. I'm not that stupid.

Then, finally, we went home. Toddler once again did his impersonation of a human vacuum cleaner and sucked up lunch like I was starving him. Then he blissfully took a nap. Great, right?


He woke up worse.

He was mad at everything, ate a bag of chips, and yelled at all his toys for not playing well with him. I am not making this up.

In one brief, shining moment of good humor, he brought out some blocks and tried to play blocks with Houdini. Once again it occurred to me that perhaps I should find Toddler some more friends. Human friends. Houdini declined to play, and Toddler went back to creating havock.

DH came home, and things didn't really improve much, so we concluded that for mutual sanity and survival of the family, Toddler needed to get a bath and go to bed. Immediately.

We were hoping he would go quietly into the good night, like he did at nap time, but alas it was not to be. The day ended with the plaintive sounds of Toddler over the baby monitor whimpering, "No night night! No night night!"

Whew. We survived. Barely.


ASK November 4, 2009 at 12:17 AM  

Might I suggest that you consult the lunar calendar the next time you have a day where his behavior is this unpredictable. My guess is that it will be on or around the full moon (like today). Just a suggestion from a household of 'lunatics'.


Susan November 5, 2009 at 3:26 AM  

Hmmmm. Full moon. I like this explanation. I might have to use it. Heh, heh. Hugs.

Karin November 5, 2009 at 9:13 AM  

Hmm. Full moon. I could possibly believe that if I hadn't actually written that post in the middle of October. But still, it's worth looking into. Maybe it was a new moon or something.

Or even better, maybe I can just say it's true, and no one will have a lunar calendar around to check. Yes, yes, that's it.

Susan, you can try that, too. We can have a contest to see if anyone calls us on it. He, he, he.

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