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mean baby

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.

photo by jen guldenzopf

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.

26 Comments Post a comment
  1. Courtney #

    I love that weepy eyed photo. That being said, it won’t pass. “Tate, we’re leaving in 2 minutes, whether you’re done with your ice cream or not, so eat faster. Tate, in 1 minute I’m taking that cone away. OK, Tate, like I warned you we’re leaving now.” Screaming, chaos, crying ensues, but you’re mentally prepared to deal with it. . . . Chapter 2 at the ice cream place. “Tate, here’s your cone. Remember how much you hated when I had to throw it away because you ate so slow? You now have 8 minutes. Eat up, buddy. . . .” I bet that little son-of-a-gun starts to scarf it down.

    April 27, 2012
  2. Yoona, I love this post. Hilarious! It’s such a good reminder to find the sense of humor in it all. I recently threw a three year old birthday party for my son and when another girl tried to grab his favorite new long shovel, the tug of war had begun. Normally, I would ask one of them to please let go, but I thought, “This looks dangerous” and decided that I better grab it too before someone got hurt. They were both strong, and for a brief moment, I became one of them, trying to use my hands instead of my words to accomplish the same goal we all shared. I cracked up after and wondered if any other parents at the party, noticed me engaged in the grabbing match. I think if we can keep up the sense of humor, we’ll survive these years with fewer battle wounds (a.k.a. wrinkles).

    April 25, 2012
    • hey marcia! it’s amazing how they can suck us in and bring us right down to their level. here’s to laughing without laugh lines.

      April 26, 2012
  3. Heidi #

    With our third and final child almost age 4 we’ve come to the firm conclusion that it’s not the twos that are terrible, it’s the threes. And I’m all too familiar with the younger sibs terrorizing the olders. Their evil little minds quickly learn to manipulate through cuteness or screams, whichever suits their purpose in the moment. Good luck – your humor will get you through as you laugh through the pain! 🙂

    April 25, 2012
    • oh man i loved three. so fun, and they are still cuddly and want to be cuddled. and they still let you pick out their clothes. FOUR was the tough one for me.

      April 26, 2012
  4. This post spoke to my soul. Our little Zoe is 19 months and seems keen on developing a toddling dictatorship herself. The whole restaurant thing is starting to look really difficult for my wife, at least what I can see from my hiding place behind the menu.

    April 25, 2012
    • best not to eat out between the ages of 18 months and 3 years. it’s true. but we have no time to cook. help me, someone

      April 25, 2012
  5. Veronica #

    I would like to come over around 7:30 tonight, that’s about the time Tate taps the keg right? Ha ha ha. Audrey sticks her lip out just like that….uh oh!

    April 25, 2012
    • you might want to come in a sheep costume because he only lets his three stuffed sheep hang out, the rest he throws on the floor. i’m sure miss audrey is going to be an awesome free spirit, knowing her mom…

      April 25, 2012
  6. hallerwoman #

    So needed this today! That sweet boy. I don’t believe a word of it. At drop off yesterday he gave me a very heartfelt hello. My advice – eat in for a while or take out. 😉

    April 25, 2012
    • he can be a social tyrant. the best kind. miss you.

      April 25, 2012
      • hallerwoman #

        I miss you too… 😦

        April 25, 2012
  7. Kristin #

    I laughed so hard at this post…at all your posts! Thank you Yoona for brightening my days….(and making me feel like my crazy kids a little more the norm)

    April 25, 2012
    • thanks for reading, kristin! it’s all about the common experiences, right. i fully expect to write a post one day that gets crickets, and then i will know that my family is in trouble

      April 25, 2012
  8. Oh shame! I’m sure this faze will pass! 🙂 Well written post though :))

    April 25, 2012
  9. Kaula #

    Oh my god…. I’m cracking at the max stop and getting weird looks but it’s totally worth it. I’m sure it will pass eventually. Probably 🙂

    April 25, 2012
    • you’ve dealt with tate, so you probably know i speak truth

      April 25, 2012
  10. Tara #

    Sounds SO familiar! (I’m a mom of a nearly-3-yr-old and a 10-month-old). The whole post was hilarious, but this made me LOL, because I do the same—

    “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.”

    I am really glad I started following your blog!

    April 25, 2012
    • is your tyrant the 3 year old or the 10-month old? the worst part of the reign of terror is the effect on the older kid. tate makes finn cry on a regular basis, it is quite amusing to watch but i feel terrible for finn.

      April 25, 2012
  11. Amazing! How old is he? Kira is…21 months? I think it’s 21 months, and she doesn’t want to follow ANY rules, and she hates highchair, strollers, and carts. She want to walk anywhere and everywhere all by herself, and she screams like a banshee if she doesn’t get her way.
    I may have to use some inspiration from this post one day…

    April 25, 2012
    • he’s 30 months, going on 17 years. sounds like it’s just starting for you with kira. i do think a lot of it’s frustration that they can’t make their needs known verbally. i’m hoping it will get better as he gets better at (non-screaming) communication…

      April 25, 2012
      • Well, Ally’s almost 4 and she’ll still occassionally give the screech in frustration. It’s easier to stop her and encourage words though, so things are looking good for two years from now. 😛

        April 25, 2012

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