This morning started out pretty typical. Got up at around 9:30am, my little man played while I made breakfast. Scrambled eggs, oatmeal with fruit, waffles, juice and milk. Daddy was home early for breakfast, as well. He works some nights and early mornings, but occassionally has breakfast with us. Our little man ate all of his blueberry waffle, not so much the eggs and liked the way the oats smelled and looked. "Yum!" he exclaimed. I gave him a spoon and poured milk over his oats and berries. I watched him as I ate my oats, he was attempting to spoon up a bite, but I guess it was too soupy. More oats ended up in his lap than in his mouth!
"Let mommy help you. Look at me! I scoop my oats like this! Yum!" I said with excitement. Trying to engage a toddler is not the same as engaging an adult. Your voice gets high pitched, your eyes get big and you smile from ear to ear to make it look fun.
"See! This is how mommy eats her oats!" I said. "Yum, its so good!" He looked at me, giggled and tried again. This time he scooped some up and it slid right off his spoon again, into his lap. He grunted in frustration. I know how annoying it is to try to do something you really want to do, but haven't mastered yet. I can't imagine how frustrating it must be to not be able to do something out of necessity such as; eating, bathing, and getting dressed entirely on your own. I held his hand in my hand and tried to scoop up some oats to his mouth.
"We'll both do it! I'll help-" I said.
"No! No! No!" he insisted, while thrashing his body around. He threw his spoon on the floor and reached for his bowl of oats.
"Do not throw that on the floor!" I said and grabbed his bowl. He quickly drew his hand back. He looked for his spoon, but it was on the floor where he'd thrown it. He got a frustrated look, started fussing and beating his hand on the table. Once he realized he wasn't getting the spoon back immediately, he began sticking his little index finger in his oats and licking it to get some in his mouth. Another power struggle today. Here we go, I thought.
"When you get frustrated, you can't throw things. Please stop." I said firmly. He looked at me and smiled. Maybe he got it this time, I thought. I hoped. I picked up his spoon, washed it off and handed it back to him. He grabbed it and began spooning oats into his lap, yet again. He squealed and his face began to turn red.
"Monkey, let mama help you. I can do it really well, as I've been eating oats for years!" I said enthusiastically and fun. He looked at me and screamed "No!No!" and started crying. I was going to add more oats to his bowl to thicken them up to make it a little easier to hold on to the spoon, but as soon as I took his bowl away he started screaming and kicking.
"I'm going to give it back, I promise!" I said. I put the bowl back on his tray and he stopped crying. He began using his spoon much better. He got about 3 big spoonfuls before he got frustrated again. He threw his spoon and flailed around. I assumed he was finished eating so I darted over to him to release his tray a bit to lift him out of his chair to clean him up, in a tantrum, he kicked his tray as hard as he could and the tray's content went flying in the air and hit the floor along with the tray. I stood there for a second and looked at the mess and looked at my toddler who was no longer crying or screaming or kicking. He was just looking too. Silence.
"Why did you do that?" I demanded. However, demanding an answer from a toddler is pretty silly. I lifted him up and tapped his butt. He cried a bit. I handed him a wipe so he could clean his face and proceeded to lift him up out of his chair. I cleaned his lap off and put him on the floor. He reached up with his sticky little hand to grab my hand and looked at me with his partially cleaned, partially oatmeal covered face.
"Good job cleaning your face, monkey!" I said with excitement.
"Yeah!" he yelled and nodded his head.
We walked to his play room aka our living room together. As we walked down the hall he yelled, "Bike! Bike!" He yells this every time we walk down the hall. We own about 10 bicycles that line that halls of the house. He loves bikes. When we entered the living room he decided he wanted to nurse. He climbed up in my lap to nurse, he wanted to lay, so he did. Afterwards, he spotted the digital picture frame that has about 30 pictures of him on it.
"Ooo!", he said, "ahh!", while pointing at himself.
"Yeah! Thats you!" I said. However, the fun soon turned into...
"No! Put that down! It's not a toy! Stop! Stop!" I said firmly.
"No! No! No!" He yelled back and had another tantrum. He kicked and screamed and threw his head back as hard as he could and headbutted me. Hard. In the face. I screamed. He looked at me as if he knew something was wrong. He knew he hurt my nose. He hit me so hard it cleared my sinuses.
"You hurt mommy, bad!" I yelled.
I got some ice from the kitchen to prevent swelling and sat there while he played. What should I have done? Time out? Spanking? Who knows? But when he saw the pained look in my face he came over to console me. Being a toddler must be a really hard challenge to conquer. Being a parent of a toddler is really challenging as well. He understands somethings, but somethings not so much. In his tiny toddler world, there's so much more to learn. In so much time. And I wouldn't rush it for a moment.