How I Came to be Heaving 60 Pounds of Screaming Kid From a Waldorf Open House

You regulars out there are wondering where your semi-reliable Saturday post is, right?

Well, it all started when I ate my breakfast, Saturday morning. I had been feeling just dandy since I got up, a whole hour to myself to drink coffee and read. I was on top of the world really. Once the kids were up, I scurried around to get everything together for our morning outing– a visit to my favorite local bakery, then a Waldorf open house at 10.

I made breakfast tacos, a never fail way to get protein into the 3YO. Halfway through eating, my stomach started to feel… not so good. Hmm, too long drinking coffee, and then too quick cramming food in I thought. I’ll come right soon enough…

At the bakery it felt wrong to put a chocolate croissant down into the squirmy hole, but more wrong to go without (such are compulsive eating habits). Down the hatch it went. Then load into the car for the Waldorf school.

In retrospect I can see how I was just getting stupider. But at the time I was so sure it would blow over.

I knew enough to warn my friend, when we got to the school, to watch for any sudden excursions to the bathroom and corral my kids if necessary. I managed to stay reasonably coherent through the big open assembly room with the dreamy red watercolor hearts on the wall and miniature rubber boots lined up by the door; through the first and second grade classroom with each child’s homemade schoolbook open on their desk to reveal artistic crayon words and drawings in otherwise blank pages; through the smattering of questions my friend and I asked of the soft-spoken kindergarden teacher dressed in flowing white and pale pink. But once we settled in for play at the nursery, with it’s all wood kid-sized furniture, and faceless cloth dolls, I could avoid it no longer. I was sick.

The knot in my belly was low. Lower than throwing up. More in the impending explosive diarrhea region. The pain was pretty definite. Like the gearing up contractions of early labor.

Continuing my campaign of stupidity, I let my friends (and only possible backup) leave. The 3YO wasn’t ready to go yet, and when she’s not ready to go, going is hard. I couldn’t face carrying her out of there kicking and screaming, even if I did have someone else to carry the Little Guy. Somehow I convinced myself that in another ten or fifteen minutes, she’d be ready to file out in orderly fashion, we’d high tail it home, and all would be well.

However, in another ten or fifteen minutes, she was still decidedly not. But now the Little Guy was. He’d already deconstructed the baby doll swing into it’s independent organic pieces. Three times. He was done with this soft place.

For my part, I tallied the folly of my backup loss and my ever tightening gut wrench, and came to the sad conclusion that all hell was about to break loose.

Which it did.

Cue the 3YO’s wails, “BUT I DON’T WANT TO LEAVE!!!! I YUV THIS SCHOOL!” as I pry the cloth doll from her white knuckles, lift her up, wobble as I realize I can barely stand, then heroically, mythically even, manage to lift the now also screaming 1YO up with the other arm. Barely restraining a full 60 pounds of screaming kid, I make my exit.

I’ve had better drives home. The stabbing in my gut was now full force. The 3YO cried. The 1YO cried. I cried. It was the longest 15 minutes I’ve known in a while.

The cramping got even worse once I was home. I writhed in the bed as if I was in labor. At the worst of it, I couldn’t walk myself to the bathroom. I threw up once, as much from the pain as nausea. It was hideous.

I was in it’s grip all day. It was after 6 by the time the horror had subsided. My guts were still tight and incredibly sore, but I could move. I couldn’t help but think in self-pity, ‘What a waste of a Saturday!’ On the other hand, what the fuck would I have done if it had been a weekday, and My Man at school? Count your blessings, I suppose.

What was it, anyway? You’re sensibly asking. I was sure it was food poisoning, though nothing I’d eaten in the past couple of days seemed remotely suspect. Nevertheless, I was sure, up until the middle of Saturday night when the 1YO woke us up puking his little guts out. Then I reconsidered. He hadn’t eaten any of the same things I’d eaten the day before. A virus! What scandal. Who knew stomach viruses even came in such wicked degrees?

The Little Man was sick all day Sunday, and into today, Monday. He’s not puking everything up anymore, which is reassuring, but neither has he given up the puking.

And babies, wow. They just don’t know how to aim. I’ve washed seven loads of laundry so far, and it ain’t over yet. I had to break into My Man’s shirts, cuz I ran out. Almost ran out of everything. I thought 3 sets of sheets per bed, and 3 towels per person was plenty when I did the big Purge back in November. I wasn’t taking into account the stomach flu on a 1YO.

So that, my friends, is what I was doing over the weekend. Instead of sipping coffee at a local dive and writing one of the several posts buzzing around in my head lately. And now, my mom is coming to visit for a week. It will be awhile before I get to that ‘Kids and Cleaning,’ or ‘How to Build a Toddler Proof Stool’ or ‘Letting Kids Help,’ all of which are in the idea phase. Oh when will they just install these damn machines directly into our brains? So that I can blog while I’m sweeping the floor, or folding laundry?

Screaming Fits

Oh friends. Thank you for being out there. Thank you for reading. Thank you for caring.

Our sweet little routine that I wrote about some time back got blown all to hell round about Easter. The Toddler’s having a rough sleep patch again. I was thinking yesterday that you could know a lot about a mama’s mental health by asking her one simple question, ‘How are your kids sleeping lately?’

Could it all be sleep related? She’s back to having a fit most days, and some days (today) two or three. She is getting something like ten hours a night, and generally no naps remember.

When we’re in a blessed Good Spell, she gets almost 12 hours. Hardly any fits. 10 hours– everything is a struggle.

Or is it the chicken and the egg? Is something going on inside her little self that makes for the fits and the sleep troubles?

Whatever it is, oh please gods, goddesses or whoever might be listening, help her through it soon. I feel weak.

Today was my fault really. I over-scheduled a little girl who I knew damn well was dwelling at the Edge. I was trying to get us out of the house so My Man could study for his last (hallelujah!) test in peace. When I had to strap her screaming, thrashing body into the stroller to quick get from one to the next play date, you would think I would have taken heed.

I wasn’t completely insane, I thought she would fall asleep in the car on the way there, be refreshed and we’d be okay. But, plans changed so that our friends ended up coming over here instead. No nap, and all the pitfalls of property.

It was a MINE!MINE!MINE! day. Really I should have just said to my friend, ‘You know, I’m sorry, but this isn’t going to get any better. Why don’t you just come back another time.’ But of course she had driven some distance, and so we just kept trying to make it work. Trying to get two little girls off the minemine merry-go-round. Ended with me having to remove my toddler to another room, and the ensuing screaming at the top of her lungs fit. With Babe on one hip, lest you forget.

Sigh. Poor sweet little soul. I never seem to get mad once she reaches the point of a screaming fit. I get mad at her all the time, when she’s being a feisty little spitfire. But by the point of screaming, I just feel sad for her. Sad and kind of deadened.

The true voraciousness of her fits is almost always caused by something I have done which drives home the point that she is not in control of her own life. I can shut the door and lock it, and there’s nothing that she can do about it. I can rip a thing away from her weaker fingers, put it on a high shelf and she cannot physically get it back. And that is when the earnest screaming starts.

I have heard the idea that ‘you have to show you’re in control because how scary would it be to be 2 and master of the universe?’ And I see the sense in that. But what it doesn’t address is this: I know she should not have control over me, or those around her. But what about having control over her own self? Her own life and choices? I see such a caged animal panic in her eye when it happens, and it feels wrong.

Of course ‘freedom not license’ is hard to pinpoint. Where does her freedom end and someone else’s begin? If she is making everybody else miserable, and so I remove her from a place, who’s freedom am I protecting/destroying?

My tactic for fits is to stay with her, occasionally offer things I think might help (a glass of water, snack, to read a book), but otherwise try to sort of ignore her. Not actually ignore, because I tried some of that and I think it scared her unnecessarily to have me vacant. But to continue with whatever I was doing as much undisturbed as I can. I feel like this sends her the message that although I am there for her, she is not the center of attention just because she is screaming. I am available to help if there is something she needs, but otherwise I am just going to let her get her screaming out.

That all sounds nice when it’s packaged up into neat little words. But what this comes down to is me trying to, for example, keep washing the dishes while she is screaming/shrieking and clinging to my leg so hard she’s pulling my pants off. Or maybe I wasn’t doing anything in particular, and so I have to try to find something to make myself look busy so I don’t just sit there and stare at her.

Sometimes everybody needs a good cry. Her’s are just so much louder and more horrible looking than any grown-ups I’ve ever known….

A good friend once said that when she was confused about what or how to do something with her kids she’d try to think what she would do if they were an adult friend. I like the sound of that, but honestly, I wouldn’t keep a friend who threw screaming fits because she didn’t get something she wanted. I wouldn’t keep a friend who screamed at me to go away, then clung screaming to my leg when I tried to leave. I wouldn’t keep a friend who acted like a two year old.

If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes. This Rough Patch has been on for about a month now, so it’s bound to be just about done, right? Right? Hello?