Poppyseed is almost 2.

Tonight I was going to sit down and write all about Poppyseed.  I was going to talk about all of her new words and sentences, her milestones, and all of the things she is doing that are just plain cracking us up.

I decided I didn’t want to do that.  Instead I’m going to throw out a totally honest story about today.  Today was a good day, but there was about an hour of it that I could have done without.  I worked today, meaning Poppyseed played with her buddies at daycare from about 9:45am-4pm.  I picked her up and decided to go to the gym for the 4:30 workout.

I usually go to the 9:30am class because they have free childcare.  Another mom will sit in a room full of toys and let the toddlers and little kids roam around so that the rest of us moms can get our sweat on.  But that childcare is only offered in the mornings, so taking her to the 4:30pm class was a gamble.  But it’s a gamble that I’ve taken before, and while it never is completely flawless, things usually work out pretty well.

It did not go well today.  For some reason Poppyseed whined and cried from the moment we started stretching and warming up.  She could have played with toys, read books, eaten a snack, or swung on the rings.  But she just decided to keep throwing a fit on the ground and rolling all over the place.  Sometimes these fits were thrown on the floor in front of other gym-goers (who probably don’t have kids and were wondering what the hell was going on) and no matter what I did, they did not stop.

Initially I tried to stay upbeat.  I excitedly pulled out some toys and encouraged her to play with her friend Max.  I gave her a few of her books and handed over a Larabar in her favorite flavor.  This did not go over well and there were probably about 10 floor fits.

It would be a lie if I told you I really knew the correct way to handle this.  On one hand I was letting guilt get the best of me.  Maybe she just wanted to spend time with me.  After all she had just been picked up from daycare, and I’d hauled her to the gym so that I could be selfish and get an hour of endorphins into my day.  Maybe she was grouchy because she had a short nap or was tired, or maybe she wasn’t feeling well and I just didn’t know it.  I allowed these feelings to run through my head as I used 10% of my energy trying to complete the workout and 90% of the workout trying to wrangle my neurotic toddler.

I’ll spare you all of the gory details, but at some point I found myself wondering what my own parents would have done.  To be honest, my parents have changed in hundreds and hundreds of ways since I was two years old.  I have no idea what they would have said or done had they seen the way I handled my child this afternoon.  But I wasn’t thinking about what they would say or do today, I was more concerned with how they would have reacted to my throwing a fit on the floor 28 years ago.

It wouldn’t have flown.  Pure and simple, my mom would never have just picked me up and taken me home had I thrown a fit in a meeting or social event.  (My mom didn’t go to a gym so I can’t use that scenario.)  But no way, there’d have been no getting off the hook, I’d have had to act right or I would have been removed from the situation until I could act right.

In this particular scenario I knew that I needed to do something or I was going to turn into Bad Mommy.  Bad Mommy loses her temper, yells, and uses bad words.  Bad Mommy feels like she’s on the brink of psycho.  I did not want to turn into that person this afternoon, so I decided to just pretend I was my parents.

I picked my child up and took her into the office of the gym.  There is a pack-n-play in there that is used by the owner’s baby, and I put my thrashing, sobbing toddler in it.  I explained to her that when she was ready to be nice and stop pitching fits, she could come out and play.  Until then, Mommy was going to work out and wait until she was ready.  I turned around, walked out of the room, and shut the door.  I suggested that we turn the music up so that the childless gym-goers did not have to hear the wailing.  And the whole time that I worked on my deadlift, I questioned myself.  Am I doing the right thing?  Should I just take her home?  What is everyone in the gym thinking?  Is someone going to call CPS?  I mean she is in a perfectly safe place, so it’s no different than being in her crib at home.  Right?

Fifteen minutes or so went by before I heard my little tot’s “normal voice” coming through the door.  “Mommy!  Mommy!  MOMMY!”

I walked into the office and found my little kiddo standing in the pack-n-play with tear streaked cheeks.  “Get out?” she asked.

I could tell she’d set her own reset button.  I picked her up, gave her a kiss, and told her I was glad she was ready to come and play.  I told her that I would have to put her down so that I could do some sprints, and that she was not allowed to cry and pitch a fit.  She had to be a big girl and cheer for Mommy or else play with her toys or friend.  But she was NOT to cry.

I asked, “Do you understand?”

She nodded her head and looked at me with her weepy little eyes.  “Yes!”

I put her down and told her to sit like a big girl.  Her little buddy Max walked over (good lord that kid is a cutie and had been so concerned for his friend after seeing all of her squalking) and stood next to her.  And we started doing our sprints.

Now mind you, she continued to act very much like a 2 year old.  She chased after me and then ran back.  She yelled “go mommy!’ one minute and then looked slightly worried that I was leaving her the next.  I had to move her out of the path of runners on more than one occasion.  My coach (also the mother of a toddler) was a dear, dear, dear friend and held her a few times so that I could catch my breath between sprints.  A few times she was running and fell down, and one time it looked like it may have really hurt.  I scooped her up and kissed her bobos and made sure she was okay.  I’m not the devil.

I’m still questioning my parenting today.  I honestly don’t know what I would do if the entire scenario were to happen again.  I’d probably pay closer attention to my body language.  I bet I got pretty frustrated, and I’m sure it was all over my face.  I’d probably actually put her in the office after the 3rd tantrum as opposed to the 13th.

People tell you how hard it is to be a parent, and it’s true.  Thankfully it’s not like this all the time.  It’s freaking awesome to be a parent, but the bad times really do show you what you’re made of.

So back to my parents.  I know I’ll probably go to bed somewhat worried about all of this, but in the interest of cutting myself a little bit of slack, I think I’ll just say that I’m following in my parents’ footsteps.  There is just no way, no way that my mom or dad would have said, “Oh little Lola is just tired, I’ll just take her home and feed her an early dinner and try again tomorrow.”  No way.  One of two things would have happened… I’d have gotten a spanking (or very serious talk) in the parking lot, or I’d have gotten a spanking (or very serious talk) in front of everyone in the gym.  Or at least that’s what I think would have happened based on my own selective memory of a childhood where I sometimes tested my boundaries but always ended up in a little place called Respect and Healthy Fear of My Parents.

So there is a very honest, unedited, unorganized summary of what it’s like to be the mother of my very first toddler girl.  For the record, we had a wonderful evening of eating tacos, taking a bath, and reading books before she gave me a big kiss and drifted off to sleep in her crib.

I would do absolutely anything in the world for that girl.   But I’m glad I got my workout in.

Here are some pictures of my tot at 22-23 months.

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Comments

  1. Just wanted to leave you a little encouragement. It sounds like you handled it the best way you knew how- don’t best yourself up. None of us ever really know what we’re doing. But it sounds like removing her from the situation and putting her in “time out” was exactly right.

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