Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Art of Walking Away

Oh, the injustice of it all!
To be fair, I've been warned about the terrible twos. And not just recently, since I had Alyssa... but, all my life. When I was younger and use to give my Mom a hard time, I remember her saying to me, "Someday, you'll have a child of your own, and you'll understand." Stop chuckling, Mom, I can hear you half a world away!

In less than a month, Alyssa will be turning two. Something in her brain has, in the last month or so, decided that's already happened and a switch has been turned on. At least once a day, we must have a good ol' cry. Not just any cry: no wimpering, no sobbing, no tear-streaked cheeks... that's just a plain cry. A good ol' cry involves flat out noodling (no bones, refuse to get up off the floor), tightly closed eyes as tears are squeezed through, sometimes wringing of hands are involved, but mostly kicking of feet, and a plaintive cry for mercy. See the picture above? That's a good version of the good ol' cry. The child psychologists in our handy-dandy go-to parenting book all say this is part of the terrible twos; they say it has something to do with letting off steam; and that the best way to handle it is to... wait for it... walk away.

Now, I don't know about you, but for me, walking away from my tear-soaked baby girl is just about one of the hardest things for me to do! Have you seen the picture above?! But I'm learning that it's an art... this walking away thing. It's like training wheels on a bike... for parents. It reminds me when I was pregnant with Alyssa and how I used to go to the bathroom so often I considered moving in there. It was training for having to get up frequently at night once she arrived. Walking away from a screaming, drama-laden toddler is a lesson in deep breaths and emotional self-control. And I can see how it's training for times to come: her first day of school; the first time she knowingly yells at me that she never wants to see me again - ever; when she chooses to hang out with friends instead of me; when she insists on seeing a boy that threatens to give her Dad a heart attack; when she wants to move away for college.

Ok, rewind. Present day: Alyssa in her pjs, just finished two strawberries, walking down the hall with Daddy on a lazy Sunday morning. She suddenly runs out of the bedroom and runs smack into the wall in the hall. She falls down in shock, wimpers and says, "Head!" I tell her it's ok and to come show Mommy. She runs over to me and I kiss her head and ask, "Better?" She looks up at me with her big brown eyes, and says, "Yeths!" Then she runs away... Deep breath, Mommy, deep breath.