Thursday, August 23, 2007

T that rhymes with C

Claire is two - and is she ever two. She is willful, dramatic, independent, and itching for a fight. All of these are important to her development as a person yadda yadda yadda. I can put a nice spin on it, but the low-down dirty truth is that Claire is not easy right now. We grit our teeth and grimly enforce the house rules. We tag team her, switching off when we get near our breaking points. We remind each other of Jake's exploits at this age to reassure ourselves that we will make it to the other side of this phase. At the end of the day, once she's asleep, the entire house lets out a deep sigh of relief.

Claire's favorite battlefield is nap time at daycare. She has decided not to nap against all logic and evidence to the contrary. This has been going on for a while, but two caregivers have managed to retain their authority. They would lay her down, give her the old stink-eye, and Claire would sleep. In the past week, one of the caregivers has moved to another class. Claire beat the other one yesterday.

I walked in at the end of the day to find a manic Claire running around in circles. "Uh-oh!" I said, "It looks like she hasn't had a nap." I have heard that some children get tired and fall asleep when they haven't had naps. My children get more and more manic. The more frenzied the activity, the more tired the child.

I turned to look at the caregiver. She sighed heavily, drooped her shoulders and said, "She beat me." Gulp. Gulp gulp. This caregiver - this experienced mother of 4, grandmother of more, caregiver to dozens of children - gave up in the face of a determined two year old child. I completely understand how that can happen. I have been a hair away from conceding on a few occasions. But now that the caregiver has abdicated authority, she's going to have to earn it back. Claire, who was testing the stability of her world, is reeling.

We're in trouble now, my friends. Trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with C and that stands for Claire. The next month or so is going to be a long one.


Mary Witzl said...

Oh, do I ever know what you are going through! Our youngest was the same: we used to feel as though we could have entered her in the Guinness Book of World Records in the Children Who Never Sleep category. Her temper tantrums had to be seen to be believed: to this day we worry that we brought the birth rate down in Japan every time we took her out. If I'd seen a kid like her in action before I decided to join the parenting game, I'd have had some serious second thoughts.

Our kid also wore out several veteran nursery school teachers in just the way you describe and we were often beside ourselves with exhaustion, frustration, and despair. But today that same obnoxious toddler is a comparatively biddable teenager. They say that difficult toddlers 'get it out of their system' and become better behaved in later years. Ours did, thank God; I'll bet yours will too.

Katie Alender said...

I just discovered that Saint Monica is the patron saint of mothers with wild children.

Her son went on to become Saint Augustine, so I'm betting there's hope for Claire!

Christy said...

Well, if I have to choose between rough times now and rough times later, I'll choose rough times now and be happy about it! I know that Claire will be ok. And then she won't be. And then she will be. And then she won't be. And so on. And in the meantime, I'll be asking St. Monica for intercessions.

It's a good thing these kids make me laugh.