I’ve written about my toddler before, but given that he is currently setting siege and laying waste to my entire family unit, I thought it time for a reappraisal.
I’ve noticed that our family tends to function with a focus on one player at a time. For stretches, it has been Finn who has taken the vast majority of our mental and emotional resources. It has been Tom, during trial, or when Michigan is losing. It’s been me, during those weepy and suicidal weeks after a bad haircut. But right now, it’s all about Tate. All Tate, all the time.
He started talking in sentences about two months ago, and we were delighted. And then, he stopped talking in whole sentences, and started yelling them. And we were frightened. At about the same time, Tate realized the awesome power of his crying, especially in public places. You have never seen a family pack up their food and leave a restaurant more quickly than mine, when Tate gets going. I once watched a movie about London during WWII and they had these sirens that would blare during air raids. The volume of Tate’s restaurant crying is like that.
Tate has been breaking out the show-crying a lot, because waiters always bring a bread basket to share, and Tate’s not having any of that sharing BS. When the bread comes, Finn will look at me with big, haunted eyes, because he wants some bread, but he knows that if he reaches for some, Tate is going to start screaming. I will try to point at something outside, like a dog, and snatch a piece for Finn while Tate is momentarily diverted, but Tate inevitably notices that Finn’s eating bread when he turns back. And then the screaming starts again, except it’s louder, and angrier, because if there’s anything Tate hates, it’s the assumption that he has tiny toddler brains. Tom’s usually no help with any of this drama, because he’s busy trying to look like he’s not with our party, even though he’s seated at our table and the kids keep calling him daddy.
Tate affects what we eat, beyond the bread. We all like ice cream. But none of us can really eat it anymore because Tate is the world’s slowest ice-cream cone licker, and he will scream if you try to take the cone away before he has finished it. We recently spent about 50 minutes in the blazing sun at an outdoor Dairy Queen, waiting for Tate to finish licking his dipped cone into submission. When there’s no ice cream on the menu, Tate forces all of us to eat with superhuman speed, because, ice cream aside, he’s not a big eater, and once he’s done, he just pushes himself away from the table and starts swaggering around the restaurant looking for other victims to terrorize. Why not strap him into a high chair, you say? Those are for babies, as Tate will inform you via scream and a well-placed kick to your nads. So, in order to finish our food by the time Tate finishes, Tom, Finn, and I have learned to eat like prisoners–quickly, with eyes cast downward, in case Tate makes eye contact and sees something not to his liking.
The future bodes well for Tate and ill for the rest of us, because he keeps getting bigger, and able to reach more stuff. He can just peer onto the kitchen counters now. If he sees something he likes, he will pull it down with such force and speed that you’d be amazed, if you weren’t busy picking up the flat of bruised strawberries rolling around on your kitchen floor. Don’t bother asking him to help. Tate doesn’t do cleanup.
Tate also doesn’t do naps, at least not at home. Here he is in his room, about an hour into naptime, taking in the scenic views from the top of his train table. Bedtime is also getting compromised, since he’s figured out how to turn his bedroom lamp on and off. I put him to bed at 7:15. He waits until I leave, and then turns on his lamp, gathers his stuffed animals around, and taps a keg.
I should do something about his refusal to follow rules. I should. But I keep telling myself that this too shall pass. And besides, I’m kind of enjoying the struggle. My small little dude, making his presence known in a big world.