Parenting a toddler can be stressful at times.
You watch them grow and learn, and sometimes you may want them to grow and learn faster than they can. You turn into a cheerleader; motivating them with postivity in every little milestone accomplished.
"Come on, little man! You can do it!" I find myself saying a lot. I often wonder if what we think of as encouragment can sometimes make toddlers anxious. Anxiety is a feeling I know all too well. I can remember anxiety as one of my first feeling memories. Hopefully, my son doesn't learn this anxious behavior from me. School was a huge anxious mess. Everyday I went home feeling some sort of nervous thought about the day. And even though I was a great reader, when it was my turn to read out loud it quickly turned into a sweaty palm, shaky voiced experience. I was chubby, awkward, dorky and different. Children are like animals in that way, they can smell the anxiety and weaknesses of their prey . . . I mean peers. This very statement is one of the reasons bullies exist, they can read their prey because they are them.
And it scares them.
Maybe the same thing goes for the parent/child relationship. Fear and angst from both sides. Both sides sees the other in them. And it's scary. It's nature.
Today we went shopping at Target. I have many political disagreements with Target, but from time to time I get caught up in consumerism and somehow end up there. Bright lights, white floors, red targets and soap and toilet paper by the bundle for "cheap". As we went through the store getting the things we needed, we happened upon the toy aisle. The last time we went down the toy aisle my son was a bit younger and not as vocal in public as he is now.
"Ooooo!!! Ooooo!!! Vroom! Vroom!" He shouted while opening and closing his tiny hand. "Gimme gimme gimme!" is what I heard.
"Which one?" I asked him.
"ooooo! oooo!!" He lunged his body forward as he pointed at the cars.
"Oh, mommy is silly. ALL of them. Of course, why not?" I joked. These jokes won't last very long as my son is very close to being able use and understand more words. We kept moving along until we got to one of his favorite shows new line of toys. Dinosaur Train on PBS. He kicked his legs and pointed. He tapped me on my shoulder to get my attention. He continued to point, kick and say "ooooo!!".
"Dinosaur Train, I think we can get that." I said while handing him the toy, we moved along. His face lit up and he had the look of acheivment. He was excited. As we continued through the store he began saying "yum, yum!", so I grabbed him a cup of graham crackers and went to the "restaurant" area and asked for a cup for water. I filled up the cup and moved to the right to get a straw and top. As I was getting a top, a middle aged woman, man and an adorably cute 4 or 5 year old little girl walked up to the drink fountain machine.
"Icee!" the little girl yelled.
"Yes, we're getting it. We're getting it." the woman griped. The little girl grabbed the cup and began getting the Icee for herself.
"Every time you get it, you spill it everywhere! Let me do it!" the woman yelled while trying to get the cup out of the little girl's hand.
"You never do it right! You and your sister! You both overflow the damn cup! Every single time! And look! You're doing it now! I knew it! I knew it!" She nagged. I used my peripheral vision to see what was going on. The little girl looked at the floor as her mom anxiously grabbed gobs of napkins for a mess that one would suffice. She wiped the sides of the cup of threw a handful of stained blue napkins away.
"I'm so tired of it! You never listen! You never listen!! You can't do it right!" she yelled at the girl and grabbed her skinny little arm and stormed away. The man had already walked away; I think he was embarrassed. I was embarrassed. And I was anxious. I knew if her yelling made me; a grown woman of 27 anxious, that it must have been unbearably nerve racking for the little girl. Everyday. Maybe it was an off day. Maybe mommy has a short temper or she was cranky and tired. Or maybe she saw a glimpse of her own clumsiness in her daughter and it drove her mad. Her very own anxious subconscious came pouring out of her and into her daughter's shaky little hand.
Parenting is a hard job. Only the loving, responsible, humorous, unselfish, and hardworking can achieve successfully.
Reproducing on the other hand, for the most part, isn't as elite.
I don't want to provide an environment so anxious for my son that he can't do anything without the fear of doing it wrong. Anxiety is a strange thing, and to some people making others anxious is a power thing. And sometimes its unintentional. Either way, it's there. It's innate.
As stressful as this mommy gig gets, I remember that a strong support system is in place for a reason. Every mommy needs a break with a glass of wine and alone time, and nowadays this mommy isn't too proud to ask for help when I feel the weight.