And the sooner you learn this, the better parent you will be.1. You cannot control your child’s sleep. This you learn pretty early on. You can help your baby fall asleep by rocking and soothing. You can try to make sure the room is a perfect temperature, dimly lit, comforting, and definitely not too noisy. You can put a sign on the door bell that asks people not to ring it during nap or evening time. You can even have a video monitor of your child’s crib to make sure all elements are under control. But the little being inside that crib doesn’t really care about your efforts at all. If he’s tired, he’ll sleep (in your arms, in the crib, in the car seat, on the floor, on the back of a donkey – he doesn’t care – he’ll sleep!). If he’s not tired, he won’t – even if you’re tired, even if you’ve controlled every single possible aspect of the environment around him, even if you threaten him (or promise to reward him). He doesn’t care. If he doesn’t want to sleep yet – he won’t.
So calm down, grab a book, sit on the floor outside the room and wait it out!
2. You cannot control your child’s “waste” systems – neither of them (well, not the third – the vomitus system – either!). He will eventually learn to control it himself, when he wants to using whatever reward/consequence system that he wants to. You have no control over this. Come now – imagine going through two whole years of your life with some absorbent thick elasticky material between your legs to “catch” you know what. And the changing of said messy “diaper” was completely random and usually involved being laid down at times in which you definitely were involved in something else and not what you wanted to do. And sometimes you’d be subjected to this indignity when you were dry, sometimes when it was coming down your legs, and sometimes you just had to endure “the sniff.”
But…. then sometime around 2 to 3 years of age, you’re expected to suddenly stop messing up this diaper thing and instead there is whooping and hollering every time your urine and excrement land in a pool of water that whooshes petrifyingly in an ever-narrowing circle until a huge swallowing glug rings out. And this is thought to be “normal”….hmmmm…..
So let’s face it – you, the parent, have no control over when this child decides to transition from “yep, done” to “Mommy, mommy, I have to go pee!”
3. The third, and probably my most frustrating, is the realization that you also have no control over the child’s vocal activities! And, by golly, they figure this one out pretty young – screeching repetitively and annoyingly in the back seat of the car out of the reach of your sweeping hands. Sharing “sensitive” information — “Mommy, that man has no hair” — in the middle of the silence of the congregations’ prayer. Or, “That man’s smoking, he’s going to die” as we walk past. Or the Little Guy who just stands in the middle of the kitchen floor screaming and screaming and screaming ….
Nothing can stop the determined disturber of the peace. Somehow, yelling at a yelling toddler to stop yelling just doesn’t seem to have the right effect. And shoving their mouths full of Kleenex would likely impair breathing and not be such a good thing. Even sending them to the time out stairs does not affect the chalk-on-board volume level emitting from their vocal cords.
It’s particularly frustrating when you have no idea why the illogical youngster is melting in a fit of whines, tears and screams. It happened to 4 out of 5 boys one morning this week, during the 15 minutes before getting all five shoed and shooed out the door. My strategy – pretend not to hear anything, pretend my frustration level is not skyrocketing and my blood pressure not soaring. Guide, cajole, demand, plead…anything….anything to get them in the car and deliver them to the substitute caregivers for the day. Then smile and say “good luck.”
Yes, once you figure out in the early years that you actually cannot control these little creatures, you’ll be quite ready for the teen years!
Ps….you also can’t control the number of stickers they choose to decorate with, the number of windows they break, or how much water they splash out of the tub!