CJDaily's Blog

May 15, 2009

The not-so-great outdoors.

Filed under: Uncategorized — cjdaily @ 12:18 am

My daughter is growing up so fast.  Yes, she is only 18 months, but all of a sudden she’s not getting night-time bottles anymore,  she only wants to eat whatever I’m eating, and most importantly, she’s down to one nap.  ONE!   It used to be she’d nap in the morning at daycare, then come home and be ready for a 2 hour nap before dinner.  It was great–I’d come home from work, give her a snack, play with her for half an hour, then pop her into her crib and go do important things like checking my Facebook while she slept.

But sometime last month she started waking up from that afternoon nap as if evil fairies had replaced my happy child with a screaming banshee while she slept.  I’d hear her stirring in the other room and go in to find her rolling around on her mattress, sniffling.  One look at me and she’d start yelling incomprehensible baby gibberish that I’m sure, if I knew what she was saying, would get her mouth washed out with soap.  The main word I could distinguish was “NO!” 

When I’d lift her out  of the crib, the screaming would escalate,and she’d arch her back like a being posessed, forcing me to put her on the ground in a screaming heap.  I would tempt her with her favorite stuffed animals, stick her binky into her wide open mouth, and ask her (loudly, to be heard over the wailing) “Belle do you want FOOD?  Do you want to EAT?” all while frantically signing the “eat” sign to her, as she knows baby-sign-language.  Nothing got her attention. 

If I picked her up, she’d simultaneously strangle me while trying to climb my body to an unknown destination somewhere higher than my head.  If I managed to carry her downstairs and put her in her high chair, she would thrash and scream like I was strapping her into the electric chair.  If I put her on the floor of the living room and just waited it out, she’d eventually subside into sniffles, or get distracted by her sippy cup.  And as quickly and strangely as the fit began, it would end, and I’d get her to eat some dinner, all the while smiling happily at me and babbling innocently, as if she wasn’t just impersonating Linda Blair for the past twenty minutes.  Once, she paused in the middle of a particularily long tantrum to YAWN, look blandly about, then continue her tirade where she left off.

So this past week I said NO MORE AFTERNOON NAP!  Obviously she wakes up in a bad mood, and sometimes it takes her so long to calm down that her dinner is delayed, and so bedtime is pushed back, and that means less time for Mommy to sit around and calm her jangled nerves with a bottle glass of chablis.  So from now on, whatever nap she takes at school is the nap she gets.  When we get home, I vowed to myself, we’ll just play until dinnertime.

Perhaps now is a good time to mention that I teach preschool.  I am around tiny little annoying people all day long.  I used to love it.  Now that I have my own child, I’m starting to think maybe I don’t want to be bothered raising anybody else’s.  So, conversely, when I get home from work, I’m kind of missing that two hours to myself.  Now I have to entertain.  Or just be dragged around by the pinky finger, as my daughter wouldn’t be caught dead snuggling with me, but is very adamant that I follow her around to witness all her conquests.  It’s like she’s the worlds smallest rock-star and I’m her groupie–she has no respect for me, but she’s glad I’m there all the same.  You know, just to be her bitch. 

So when we get home, rather than a blissful interlude, I find myself caving to her demands that we go outside.  Though she doesn’t talk much yet, she’s quite effective at conveying her desires.  Only an idiot could miss the message she gives when she’s leaning with all her weight on the front door, alternately banging on it and kicking it, yelling “Ah! Ah! Ah!”  Could mean “Out.”  Could mean “Let’s go!”  Could mean “Open the door, slave, or I’ll do that thing where I wake up screaming at 4am for no discernable reason at all!”

Now, I’m not really an outdoors girl.  Just in case you missed my last blog on my aversion to winter sports, let me repeat myself.  The change in the weather doesn’t change my outlook.  Summer and spring means bugs, sunburn, dirt, and a plethora of undesirable things I’d rather not come into contact with.  If it’s just me I can bear it, if I must.  But now with a toddler (who has no regard for things like property lines or oncoming traffic) going outside is somewhat like watching Saw IV–full of horror and to be avoided at all costs. 

But today I caved, because honestly, what else are we going to do?  She avoids all her toys and prefers instead to climb the furniture, move all the picture frames around, and try to pull the tablecloth off the dining room table.  And I can only watch The Little Einsteins so many times before I develop a nervous tic.  (More on them later, those little babsitters deserve a post of their own.)  I decided we could go visit to the little kids park at the bottom of the neighborhood, as it was just a short walk away.  So I grabbed my sunglasses and off we went. 

Wait, that’s a lie.  A gross understatement.  I grabbed my sunglasses, yes, but I also grabbed her sippy cup, two kinds of snacks just in case, the lunchbox to keep it all in, my cell-phone in case we needed to contact the police for any reason (and I live in the safest suburb you could imagine), her sweater (in case she got cold in the 70 degree heat), and a water bottle for myself.  Call me neurotic, but I firmly believe that had I left the house without any of those things, I would have needed them.  Anything could happen–a freak cold-snap, starvation, muggers, whatever.  Just like I know that, were I to leave the house without mascara, I’d be sure to run into someone I hadn’t seen in years.  It’s just the law of physics.  Or something like that.

Now I buckled Belle into her stroller, stowed everything away in the basket below the seat, and made it only to the end of the driveway before I found a tick in her hair.  Let me repeat:  a TICK in her HAIR.  I almost turned right back around.  It took a full minute of breathing into a paper bag to give me the strength to go on.  My mother has instilled in me a most ungodly fear of ticks–when I was a child she carried on about them so vehemently I was sure if you found one on yourself you were sure to contract lymes disease within the hour, not to mention the possibility of nausea, vomiting, incontinence, infertility, and testicular cancer.  Even if you don’t have testicles.  Ticks are THAT scary. 

We made it to the park without any other disasters, other than her dropping her sippy cup several times, just to see me dash for it.  No one was there so we had the place to ourselves.  She made a beeline for the little baby swings that look like buckets with leg holes, and was happy in that one until she decided she wanted to be in the one next to it.  We played on the slide, a repetitive but pleasing activity.  She rocked on the big chipmunk whose only function is rocking back and forth on a large coil.  She chased the ice cream man’s truck when he drove by.  (She doesn’t like ice cream, but she sure loves his musical truck!)  And then she was bored.

When she grabbed the stroller and started pushing it towards the entrance to the park, I got the hint.  I figured we could walk back together, it would burn up some time and hopefully wear her out a little, as her energy never seems to flag.  But somehow it didn’t work out like that.  We were only halfway across the street when she decided she didn’t want to push anymore and stopped dead. 

“Belle, we can’t stop here, let’s go,” I said, taking her arm.  But she yanked her arm away and sat down in defiance.  Yes, in the middle of the street.  So I reached down and scooped her up with one arm, pushing her behemoth stroller with the other arm.  We got to the safety of the sidewalk and I put her down while she, as to be expected, burst into an angry tirade about being treated so rudely. 

“Come on, you can push the stroller,” I gestured, but she continued huffing and puffing, so I rolled it away from her a little bit.  “Ok, bye then,” I said cheerily, and went a few feet down the sidewalk, hoping to get her to follow.  She jumped to her feet and toddled over.  Haha, victory, I gloated to myself, too soon.  She started pulling everything out of the stroller basket and tried to climb inside.  Twice I pulled her off the basket, and twice she screamed, “No!  No! No!” and tried to get back in.  Finally I peeled her off and scooted back down the sidewalk, leaving her sitting angrily on the ground, still yelling “No!” 

“Belle, that’s not how we ride in the stroller!”


“Come here and you can push the stroller home.”

“No, no, no, no!”

“Annabelle Mae, come to Mommy!”


Now may I remind you we are doing this in my neighborhood, while people are leisurely driving by.  My neighbors are washing their cars, walking their dogs, pushing strollers with perfectly complacent babies inside. I can only imagine the sight we made–me standing there with my arms crossed, next to an empty stroller, and a flushed and chubby toddler sitting on the sidewalk fifteen feet away, defiantly staring me down.  As if to emphasize the solidity of her position, she reached out and ripped up a handful of grass from the well manicured lawn next to her.  Looking down at it, she pondered it for a moment, then stuffed it into her mouth.

“Augh!  Belle!  Spit that out right now!”  I forced down my gag reflex at the thought of the possible germs, fertilizer, pesticide and dog urine she’d just ingested and sprinted over to her.  Wiping out her mouth as best I could, she looked supremely confidant that she’d driven her point home, whatever it was.  I decided I’d had enough of the great outdoors.  I strapped her into the stroller against her will, having had my fill of democracy as well. 

We’ve been outside long enough anyway, I reassured myself, sweating and exhausted.  It must be almost dinner time by now.  I pulled out my cellphone to reassure myself that I’d suffered long enough, and checked the time.  It was 4:07.  I got home from work at 3.  Which meant, having left the house around ten after 3, we’d been out less than an hour.  I slowly shook my head and grimly plowed on home, pushing my wailing child, still covered in flecks of grass. 

Next time, I swore to myself, we’ll just watch an educational video about the rainforests or something. 

Anything the neighbors can’t witness. 


1 Comment »

  1. Hilarious stuff, as always! Wow, I really can’t wait for Jude to get to this age…aren’t boys even worse with the defiance and tantrums? What have I gotten myself into? LOL

    Comment by Erin Garrigan — May 14, 2009 @ 1:10 pm | Reply

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