Two words. Toddler meltdown.
What is it that causes these little humans to leave their body and somehow return as drunken sailors like they’re fresh off the pirate boat?
Or better yet, they resemble “that friend”. You know, the one that insists they’ll go slow on the intake of libations, only to become a distorted version of Will Ferrell in Old School.
If you’ve ever taken care of a drunk friend, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
First comes the slurring of words about exes and how much they love EVERY-ONE in the bar. In toddler terms, this is where they start whining incomprehensible phrases.
Usually something about their sippy cup lid being screwed on too tight or that their shoes have velcro. And they don’t like velcro.
Next comes the loss of limb, where your drunk friend flails and flops, swinging their arms around the necks of strangers until eventually, they end up on the floor. Or sidewalk. Or the bar table. Which then leads to a battle of trying to convince them to get up. They think this request is comical and continue with their drunken flailing.
Toddlers? No different. Once the tantrum begins, it’s like their body is taken over by an alternate force, causing them to go limp each time you try to pick them up or sometimes contorting their body into a strange version of the downward-facing dog. Face in the carpet, or in this case, the mud. All the while alternating between whining, crying, and kicking their legs in defiance. Drunk friend = toddler meltdown.
Recently, we were at a Super Bowl party. There were probably 30 people in attendance and it was by no means an adult only event. Everyone brought their kids and there were hoards of them ranging in age from 8 weeks to high school. The house provided every activity imaginable from a bounce house to trampolines and toys. Lots of toys.
Yet whose child was the only one melting down in a way that made me think she just learned that Elsa was really a truck driver from the Bronx and not a magical ice queen? You guessed it. My daughter. She was angry because she wanted to pull a gigantic wagon through the mud, with no shoes.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Oh just let them be little! Let her run and play and get dirty.” Well, I can assure you that I not only love but encourage that kind of behavior.
However, if you have ever raised a strong-willed girl, you will understand that there are no rules.
That day, I had her wear her rain boots for this specific reason. I knew it would be an endless back and forth game of shoes on. Shoes off. When she began pulling the wagon and decided her boots were unnecessary, she began to kick…scratch that, fling them off.
Again, I did not protest.
Wear the boots, don’t wear the boots. It really didn’t matter. I could have cared less. But such is life with a toddler and after flipping off one boot, and dragging the wagon 3 ½ inches…she decided she was done.
Done with what you ask?
Who knows. The boots. The wagon. The Falcons. The entire year? There is no rhyme or reason with toddler meltdowns and thus began one of epic proportions.
It could have been that she was 2 hours past her nap. Or possibly her lunch which consisted of potato chips, 3 brownie bites, 12 slices of sourdough bread, some Pirate Booty popcorn and ½ Diet Coke. I know. Winning.
Here she was, flailing her arms, rolling in the mud, whining words of protest, kicking at the sky, and then ending with a downward facing dog in the mud.
All the while my friend and I didn’t even bat an eye. If there’s one thing most moms can agree on, it’s that just like the drunken friend, the more you meddle, the worse it gets.
There is no point in rationalizing or coercing your toddler to do anything productive. You just wait it out. You follow behind her, high heels (or in this case a boot) in tow, making sure she is safe. Within ten minutes she was back to her smiley self, happily marching off to the next to. One boot on. One wagon left behind in the mud.