I mentioned last week at Outside The Mom Box Facebook page that I really appreciated one mom’s observation that living with a two year old is like “living with a bipolar drunken troll”. That so rings true for me. One minute Elisabeth is high as a kite, happy, charming and relaxed. The next minute, I head to the bathroom and suddenly a tidal wave of dismay of such astronomical proportions hits the mood. “No Mama, no peepee!”. Why is me going to the bathroom such a trauma? Such is the brain of a 2 year old apparently. Two weeks ago though, it was me reeling from an extreme high and a bottom down low.
Screen time for Elisabeth is limited to watching a video of herself and/or her friends doing something (hunting for eggs at her birthday party or jumping around at The Museum of Life and Science). It’s worked well so far. But it’s almost Christmas and since I have been reading _How The Grinch Stole Christmas_ since mid-July, I figured it was time to dust off my beloved Grinch DVD. No Jim Carrey for me; it’s classic Boris Karloff all the whole way. I asked Elisabeth if she’d like to see the movie of The Grinch. Of course she said “yes”, not knowing what she was agreeing to but tuning into my excitement and the novelty of being able to look at the computer. I hit “play” and started mouthing the words, practically jumping up and down with pleasure. She watched mouth open as the Whos trimmed their trees and the Grinch plotted evil. At one point I started reciting the words aloud, totally unconsciously, and she put a fast stop to that, “No singing Mama,”. I shut up then and watched silently, tapping my foot.
My heart sang with pleasure. This was one of those moments that I imagined I would have with my child. She and I curled up to a warm computer watching one of my all-time Christmas movies. It was sweet and wonderful, a Hallmark card ready for printing.
The next day we went to Durham Central Park‘s opening of Mt. Merrill. It was rainy so we didn’t walk. I pulled into the parking lot and saw Wool E Bull’s party van. So did Elisabeth. ” Wool E. Bull,” she said. “Yup,” I said. “When you see the Wool E. Moe-Bile, you know Wool E. is close by.” “No Wool E. Bull,” she said. “Oh no, I think he is here,” I said. In hindsight, it seemed so clear we were destined for disaster. I’m always happy to see Wool E. so I didn’t see any red flags. Although I should have.
After our usual cookie stop at Daisy Cakes, we walked down Foster Street. It’s winter market now so there aren’t any vendors lining the street. But we could hear the shoos of kids coming from Mt. Merrill, the glorious new play structure at DCP. As we started to cross the street, Wool E. Bull turned around and started walking toward us. Like the best mascots, Wool E. just seemed to materialize before our eyes. Had he been standing there all along? I didn’t know but before I could race with my happy child toward his furry face, I heard Elisabeth scream. I have honestly never seen her look so frightened. “No Wool E!” she screamed and after an odd little hop of fear, she started running in the opposite direction. Nothing fazes Wool E. so he veered off his path and headed toward a group of other kids. I picked Elisabeth up and tried to reassure her that Wool E wasn’t around anymore. She believed me but when we were at Mt. Merrill, she still looked around for him, muttering “No Wool E.”
My husband and I were married at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Wool E. was a witness at our wedding. He’s practically related to us! To have my own child who has seen Wool E. before be so terrified of him filled me with mixed emotions. And less than 24 hours after our blissful Grinch experience, no less!
Living with a toddler means living with the knowledge that the unexpected is usually what happens. These two experiences reminded me of that. When Elisabeth was a baby I know things were going to change but it was usually predictable change: sleep, nursing, poop, etc. Now as a toddler, things with Elisabeth can change on a dime, in an erratic and seemingly nonsensical way. I guess this is one of the learnings about parenting: the high’s can be so filled with joy but the lows can really be quite low.
Here’s hoping your holidays are joyful, merry and filled with lots of bright highs!