Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Matter of Time

Oh, I am so tired! But not so much physically tired- I am tired of Addy! Shh, don't tell anyone, I feel awful enough as it is without more guilt. But seriously, she is being so insane the last few days! You know how your kid can be perfectly well behaved, and of course you're happy but you're not exactly sitting around exclaiming every five minutes over how darn content they're being, just sitting there playing with blocks or whatever? You're more like, "Good, they're entertaining themselves in a nondestructive way- what can I go sneak off and do?" And granted this is not the most selfless of parental impulses; it's not exactly cherishing the moment or anything, but sometimes those mini breaks are what keep you sane, you know?
But on those days when you're not getting any mini breaks, and your kid has morphed into some whiny, cranky, other-person's-child kind of child? Well, those days you do notice and exclaim every five minutes about their remarkable behavior: the yelling in the car seat, the kicking in the highchair, the refusing to eat, and particularly the refusing to nap without a nice prenap scream fest. Every five minutes you're muttering to yourself, "What is the deal here? What do you want? Why are you randomly biting me?"
And you understand that perhaps that child has a giant molar coming in, or maybe she's just processing some post-holiday stress or something. Or maybe she's just suddenly sick and tired of being a short, incontinent person who gets around by slowly hopping on her knees and who cannot get the people around her to understand a darn thing she says. And also, she has a relatively limited repertoire of video entertainment options. (Maybe if I myself were forced to watch "Pretty Woman" every other day, I would get a little pissed too, no matter how much I started out loving it. Imagine: my caretaker would sit me down in my chair and talk excitedly while preparing the DVD player, and I would wait in thrilled anticipation- until I saw that it was the same stinking movie I'd watched three times already that week. "Not this crap again," I would think.)
All of this to say, I do understand that a one-year-old's threshold for frustration is pretty low, and that this is not really unreasonable given her situation. But I'm still feeling a bit under par myself, and it's just tough sometimes to maintain perspective when you're home all day with a toddler. You go off to the playroom with noble intentions of engaging your child's mind with some puzzles or books or whatever, but then your child explains (by unceremoniously dumping the puzzle to the ground) that she would prefer to remove each of the stuffed animals from their basket one by one and then in turn hand each of them to you, where you must kiss and hug them, and then hand them back. This is done with much pomp and circumstance, and when it is finished the process may be repeated as many times as Adelay deems necessary. And woe be unto you, silly mama, if, after the third time, you try to lie limply on the floor and feign sleep!
And then, when you stagger off to check the clock (nap time yet?!) you find that a whopping seven minutes have passed since last you checked. It's the same with crying. You lose all sense of time when you're hovering anxiously outside the nursery door, waiting to hear if the sharp screams are tapering off or at least losing their edge of hysteria so that you can stop feeling like an evil child abuser. It feels like the crying has gone on all night long when in fact it has been, oh, maybe ten minutes or so. Yet it colors and characterizes your entire evening's events- if someone asks you the next day what you did last night you say haggardly, "Oh, it took forever to get the baby to bed." That's what you remember.
What is it about kids that makes time such a funny, shape-shifting substance? When you're in those moments of inexplicable crying jags and monotonous games (Candy Land, anyone?) you feel the tick of each second like an eternity. But on the other hand- whoosh, there it went, a whole year, and your baby is a baby no more.


Lisa said...

Oh Sarah how I love to read your blog entries. I had a day EXACTLY like this with my kids yesterday. I played Candy Land with my 4 year old probably 25 times. Reading your description of events put a smile on my face.

I hope today is a better day for you and Ms. Addy!

Swistle said...

I am so there with you. I am TRYING to enjoy the twins' toddlerhood and their little developing selves, but it is DIFFICULT when they are BITING and WHINING and CRYING FOR NO REASON and REFUSING TO NAP. I am leaning on television a little harder than I'd like to be, but holy crap the days are long otherwise.

desperate housewife said...

Oh, I know- I thought I was going to limit TV very strictly, back when I was pregnant and everything was still theoretical. Now, a year later, what was the thing I asked for from every relative for Adelay's Christmas gifts? DVD's.