Does anyone else have to physically restrain their toddler while they take a shower?
Every day, though I have repeatedly tried to let him roam free and occupy himself, I have to strap Charles into a chair in the bathroom while I bathe. If I’m at the gym and Tony is taking a shower, he does the same.
You see, Charles cannot play alone quietly. I could lock all the doors in the house except for the one in his room while I am in the shower, and if he is free, he will wail outside the bathroom door and throw himself bodily into it in an attempt to break it down, instead of playing blocks or taking all the books off of the shelf in his room.
If I leave the bathroom door open and Charles is free, he pokes his head into the shower, tries to climb over the tub, works at forcibly compromising the integrity of the magnetic child-locks on the under-sink cabinet with the bleach in it, plays with the toilet (gross!) and finds other ways to potentially kill himself.
The kid is a tornado, and I’m beginning to sense that this isn’t normal. I mean, many of you have toddlers… what do they do while you’re in the shower?
Charles is vexing on so many levels. Now, don’t get me wrong, he is an adorable child, full of laughter, intelligent and playful. But he is a tantrum-thrower of epic proportions. This morning he got mad at me when I changed his diaper, and the resulting scream-fest lasted 20 minutes. He hurls himself to the floor, shrieks at the top of his lungs, launches himself out of my arms, and resists the torture of a cold, wet washcloth, a sippy of water, or, God forbid, getting dressed (so we can get to work on time). I did manage to dress him and get him in the car this morning, at which point he promptly fell asleep. Sigh.
He is still a horrible sleeper. In fact, I’m taking Charles to the beach this weekend because Tony might just fall over dead if he doesn’t get some sleep. As you can imagine, Tony works late, but I think it’s the getting up twice in the middle of the night and then finally at 5 am that really does him in.
So, here’s the trajectory of Charles’ typical night: Dinner at 6pm, followed by a bath, which is either a display of hyperactive mirth, or a total breakdown into tantrum-land, usually set off by a bonk to the head sustained during said hyperactive mirth time. Then, if he’s happy, a quick run back and forth in his crib totally nude. To help you visualize, I’ll describe: imagine a chunky boy with a full-of-food belly (you parents know what I’m talking about – it’s adorable on kids, their bellies all distended from the meal, looking like a 40-year-old man with a tragic beer gut) running nude from one end of his crib to the other, slamming himself into the side and dissolving into peals of laughter. Frankly, it’s adorable. He jumps, he stomps, and eventually, he is corralled into his super-stuffed overnight diaper (an insert and a prefold!), which makes him look even more ridiculous, as now he has the butt to balance the belly. Then come the pjs, the tooth-brushing (which has set off the screams lately, due to the advent of several molars), and finally the kiss-goodnight from myself. Tony reads a story, and then sets him in bed, at which point he screams for five minutes before I go in and give him his water bottle. He drinks furiously, then flops into bed and goes to sleep. He wakes again at 9pm, almost on the dot, and ends up crying, on and off, for about 2 hours because I refuse to sit in his room with him while he sleeps. Which is what he wants. He wants to see me every time he wakes up. By 11pm, at which point I have done all the laundry and dishes and other household chores to the inspiring soundtrack of periodic screaming, he drops into a deep sleep. Now, don’t misunderstand, I go into his room every so often when he screams, give him water, settle him down, and give him Tylenol if his gums look irritated, I’m not mean, for goodness’ sake. But I have tried sitting with him for two solid hours (and then nothing gets done) and I have tried letting him cry the entire time, and the result is the same. Between midnight and 5 am, he usually wakes one or two times for a drink of water, and then is up and ready for the world at 5 am, sometimes as late as 5:30, if we’re lucky.
Now, who wouldn’t be exhausted by this? I’m fairly certain the reason the dog wants out in the middle of the night sometimes is for the peace and quiet of his kennel.
So what I want to know is, what is your secret? How is it possible that there are these other toddlers who don’t have to be strapped into a chair for their parents to shower, don’t throw crazy temper tantrums several times daily (let’s remember that he is 16 months old, not 2 years old), and sleep peacefully every night? What are you doing? What is wrong with my child? Lest you think Charles is not given enough love or discipline, I can assure you that is not the case. I got a horrifically judgmental look after revealing the strapped-in-during-shower thing at MOPS the other day – clearly, I am a bad mom. I was also told that I should help Charles to understand the meaning of “no.” Seriously? Charles knows exactly what “no” means. In fact, he has his hand or cheek slapped so many times for “no, that’s hot, we don’t play with the stove, we don’t touch the doggie, we don’t climb on the table or the curtains or the banister, no, we don’t eat dirt or dog poo, we don’t throw things, we don’t eat pens, etc, etc, etc,” ad infinitum. He loves to test his boundaries and to wait until my back is turned to do so. He is mischievous to the nth degree, and it’s almost as if “no” is an invitation to do something and see if it is really as bad as mama says it is. Consequences (whether a smack or a time-out) be damned.
I keep thinking that I have some sort of anomaly living with me, a child that climbs more than other children, is more interested in the things that will hurt him than in the toys made for kids his age, and more apt to drive me out of my ever-loving mind than any other child in the universe. This one goes to eleven.
Seriously, I will NOT have another child until I can at least shower alone, because our bathroom will not fit two chairs.