If you’re a mom, especially a mom of a toddler, you know that your patience is tested every single day, all day long. Take, for instance, a conversation that occurs multiple times a day in our home.
B: oiethskdng:SIejt;se! (somehow I decode this to mean smoothie!)
C: Can you say ‘please’ B?
C: Ok, what color straw would you like?
B: Blue. (I go and get the blue).
B: NOOOOOO green. (I put the blue back, and get the green).
B: NOOOOOO lelllow. (I put the green back, and get the yellow.)
B: Ninyon seosethethe! Ninyon seosetnothe! (Decoded: Logan, smoothie).
C: Ok, Logan do you want a smoothie with your brother?
B: NINYON SMOOTHIE NINYON SMOOTHIE NINYON SMOOTHIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
C: Logan, can you please just have a smoothie with your bother?
L: I don’t want one.
C: Sigh. (Ok, he’s right. Just because the toddler wants him to have one doesn’t mean he has to have one).
C: Ok B, Logan doesn’t want one. You can have one. Tell me what color straw you want.
B: (in tears over Logan not having one). Orange. (Sob). I get the orange straw.
B: NOOOOOOO pink.
Cue C pulling out her hair.
I have to say, I have good days and bad days with that oh so fickle concept called patience. It can be trying, putting up with the demands and pickiness of a strong willed and energetic toddler. I recall that when L was B’s age, if you cut his sandwich the wrong way his world literally ended. I will never forget him trying to piece it back together, in tears, yelling ‘like a puzzle!!!! like a puzzle!!!!’ Dude, everything is going to be okay…
Jennifer Senior wrote a book entitled All Joy and No Fun – The Paradox of Modern Parenting. It’s a wonderful read and a certain element hit home with me, hard. Many times throughout my days of mothering, I reference it in the back of my mind and it helps. See, she explains that there are biological reasons why toddlers drive us batty. Adults have a fully developed prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that sits just behind the forehead and controls executive function of day to day life. It regulates reason, focus, inhibition, planning, forecast, and pondering our future. Littles ones do not have this; in fact theirs is barely developed at all. They are in a constant state of RIGHT NOW because it’s all they can mentally be in.
To B, the decision of the color of his straw is the only decision. It’s major. It’s life changing. It’s almost just too much to process. Just like coming from playing outside to eating lunch inside evokes a reaction of complete and utter distress. To him, he’s not quite sure he’ll ever go outside again.
I have to say that in those trying meltdown moments, it’s so helpful for me to step outside of my shoes and into little B’s. Showing empathy can go a long way with a toddler, and something as simple as ‘I know it’s hard to come inside but after your nap we can go back out!‘ can change the game. Sometimes, I mean… it’s toddlers.
If that doesn’t work? Leaving the scene for one minute to take a deep breath. Seriously, helps every time.
That and a glass of wine.