At the ripe old age of 2.5, Luke has certainly learned the art of persistence. Taking some psychology on temperament from my latest parenting bible “Raising Your Spirited Child,” I’ve learned his reactions are intense, he’s slow to adapt to new situations and transitions from one activity to another are extremely difficult. He wants to keep doing what he’s doing and once he arrives at his next activity, he’ll either resist or be hesitant to participate.
I feel very enlightened knowing these characteristics about him, but it doesn’t really make life all that much easier except I know what to expect.
Here are some things he just flat out refuses to do.
- Get in the car – The moment Luke wakes up I let him know what the plan is for the day. If we’re going somewhere in the morning, I let him know that after we get dressed and eat, we’ll be getting in the car. I remind him 3 or 4 more times that we’ll be getting in the car soon. When I announce “OK time to get in the car!” we enter tantrum town. He won’t go. Even if it’s somewhere fun, it takes a lot of bribing to get him to get in the car. And once he’s in the car, we face another battle getting into the car seat. He often wants to sit in the “way back” or trunk space of my SUV. Eventually he gets in.
- Get out of the car – We’ve arrived at our destination. I’ve got Eli strapped to my chest in my Tula and I’m unbuckling Luke. He gets out of his car seat and before I can grab him, he’s gone to the other side of the car, curled up, not wanting to get out. Next stop: tantrum town as I pull him out.
- Leave – We’ve managed to get in the car, arrive at our destination and get out of the car. Now it’s time to leave wherever we are – a friend’s house, church, school. I give a few “heads ups” – “we’ll be leaving in 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 1 minute.” I’ve even been saying, “Luke, what are we doing in 5 minutes” and he’ll reply “leaving.” But sure enough, when I announce we’re leaving, you can probably guess which town we’re headed toward. We also go back to #1 on our list.
- Lay down – It’s been a long morning, and an even longer day. It’s time to lay down for a nap or for the night. We do our routines (diaper, reading, lights off), yet the boy will not lay down. I lay with him. I get him a snack, water, his stuffed animals, his golf clubs, his weed eater. Thirty minutes into “nap time” he realizes his clothes are not sleeping clothes. I change his clothes. Another 15 minutes go by and he can’t lay down because there are “hedge trimmers” all over his room. I assure him there aren’t and get the pretend backpack blower to blow them out. He’s content. He lays down.
- Go to sleep – He’s finally caved and is laying down. He relocates himself probably 15 times before his position is adequate enough to facilitate sleeping. Another 15-20 minutes later, he’ll be asleep (on a good day).
I’m trying to make light of these situations but in all honesty, I’m getting pretty frustrated by it all and losing my temper more often than I’d like to admit. I know these are the terrible 2s, but this sh*t is hard! I’ve been fortunate in life that most things I study for and work hard at, that I see success, whether that was success in school, in dance as a kid, or with work. But this is one area where no matter how much I try, sometimes I just keep feeling like I’m failing. It’s kind of depressing.
I don’t want to be a total downer, but in sharing the ups in life, I think it’s also important to share the downs.
And on a positive note, I looked back at my top parenting fails when I started writing this post and we have made progress in all areas except going to sleep. I’m able to get Luke dressed in the morning (often in matching clothes!), keep the shoes on his feet (thanks to light up shoes from grandma!), brush his teeth (thanks to threats that the dentist is going to pull out his teeth – I know, I know, that is really mean), go places more confidently with both kids, and keep a clean(er) house.
It gave me a newfound sense of hope when I reflected back on the issues we were facing and realizing how far we’ve come. I know there are new challenges ahead, but hopefully I’ll look back on this in a couple months and be pleased with our progress!