One of the joys of being a parent for a medium amount of time (I'm not a rookie, but certainly have a long ways to go before being a veteran parent) is that you do begin to see patterns and truisms appear in the process of raising children. One truism that I figured out about three years in was this: all kids are tough at one time or another. If your kid seems like an "easy" kid, don't worry- your trying time will come.
Now, remember back when Alec was born, and then we sailed through his first year, and I kept saying how wonderful tempered, how easy and happy, how all-around-dreamy he was? And handsome to boot?
Yes. My trying time has officially come.
There are several factors at work here that are causing this change: he just turned two and is flexing his completely age-appropriate independent wings; he still doesn't talk much, which causes him great frustration and angst; and he has cut at least four teeth in the last three months.
These factors have affected his sleeping patterns, his eating patterns, his pooping patterns, his napping patterns, his bedtime routine, his daytime routine, his bathtime, his desire to wear (or not wear) certain clothing, his absolute refusal to get his diaper changed, his tolerance (and intolerance) for me doing things without him. They have also made his world substantially smaller as we can no longer take him out to dinner or to church any longer.
Several times per day, when he becomes displeased with the choices his parents are making and forcing upon him (WHAT? Changing my diaper AND putting pajamas on??? Are you CRAZY?) Alec completely melts down and screams and cries. He is unredirectable during these jags and we have learned to just ignore him the best we can. Sometimes, like when we HAVE to be somewhere, we have to impose our will upon him and boy, is that not fun. He will cry and scream and kick and wriggle and try as hard as he can to get away from us (thankfully we have escaped biting and hitting thus far) and generally be as unpleasant as a kid can be. After a while, he will settle down and then acts as if nothing has happened and he is sweet, happy Alec once again.
Today he flipped out because I threw out his soaking wet diaper and wouldn't let him play with it. I know- how unreasonable can a mommy be??
Bathtime is a total nightmare. It has switched over the past 21 months with no rhyme or reason from something he hates so much he flips out when you put him in to something he loves so much that he flips out when you take him out and now BACK to hating it so much that he flips out and tries to climb out of the tub the whole time. Dan and I have to tag team him, Dan in the tub, standing up behind Alec and keeping him in the bathwater (Alec will throw his legs over the edge, arch his back and do anything to get out) with me kneeling outside the tub trying to get him bathed as quickly as possible. We all get soaked. Alec screams and cries the whole time, and the funniest part is that when it is over (pretty quickly- I'm a quick bather), we immediately take him out of the tub ... and then he tries to climb back in. He leans over the edge with his arms outstretched, just as mad that we took him out.
Another charming part to this whole matrix of behavior issues is that Alec is a puker. He has multiple times cried so hard that he has puked all over himself and us. We tried the Ferber Method on him a few nights ago to make him sleep through the night, something we did with Jenna with great success, and he cried for two hours and the whole time I was praying, Please don't puke, please don't puke, please don't puke. He didn't puke but at 3:40 am I caved in and botched the whole thing. I just couldn't take it anymore.
But... we are relearning the new rules Alec is presenting us with and forging ahead. We are getting smarter about some things and setting better boundaries where they need to be set. We are adapting. We have some very, very good days where he is meltdown-free and his usual lovely, grinning self. And the days that are not so good are another day closer to him growing out of this ridiculousness. He is being evaluated by the county on Tuesday for speech therapy and we are pretty certain he will qualify for services. He continues to be a loving little boy who gives the most delicious lip-smacking kisses when he's in the mood. He has all kinds of crazy quirks which make us laugh, like how he licks the DVD before he puts it in the DVD player because he has seen us clean his grubby fingerprints off of them before we play them. He loves to play and be with his sisters, loves his train and his Cars puzzle, loves to throw the football into the different rooms upstairs and then says, "Go?" with his palms upturned, asking where did the ball go. He would be very, very happy if I could lay with him on the couch until around 10am, watching SpongeBob, and then have him and I just sort of play all morning in his room and the basement, and maybe eat an apple or some pasta when he feels like it. And heck, I'd love to do that to, but I have a few other obligations I need to attend to, like showering myself (when Alec is not on board with that plan, he stands outside the shower the whole time I'm in there and cries and insists that one of the shower doors be open), and all the tasks involved in running our household.
So our boy is two and trying the best he can to grow and makes his needs known, usually through screaming.
As my mother and grandmother always said, "It's a good thing you're good looking, or you'd be dead by Tuesday."