Last week, I was trying desperately to get my Christmas gifts wrapped, and mailed out to family overseas. I know it was at the last minute, but I was only just done shopping. If you are pregnant, you might think I’m a slacker. If you have a baby, or toddler, you’ll know why. Think excited toddler chase through the biggest shopping mall in America. Why do they have fountains? And visiting guide dogs? and cookie vendors? And a huge Lego store? And shops with attractive, fragile things displayed at toddler eye level? We shopped, bailed, and I cursed because I forgot several things and we had to go again. And then I didn’t buy giftwrap so we had to go to another store, carrying complaining toddler under one arm to get in and out before the post office closed.
Moms, you know you’ve done this. You really have to get something done. Your child thinks you should be playing with him. You beg, can you find something to do? Please? Look how many toys you have? Can you play with those? Toddler does the no, that’s not just a no, but the shaking head and whole body from side to side. Because toddler firmly believes he is at the center of the universe, and wrapping presents is boring, and mom should be looking at me.
So here I am, with a pile of unwrapped gifts, and a recalcitrant toddler. Please find something to do? I ask again. Toddler fixes me with baleful stare and heads off to the kitchen. I weigh the cost-benefit balance in my mind. There’s locks on the cupboards with bleach and knives in so I move the pile and the giftwrap to the kitchen table and let him get on with it.
Toddler empties the food cupboard. Toddler empties the pan cupboard. Toddler adds cheerios to the dog’s bowl. I wrap frantically. Toddler sneaks offcuts of giftwrap and makes sparkly paper soup for dog. Dog sensibly refuses. Toddler starts emptying food packets. Wrapped up cereal bars, ok. Dog kibble, ok, dog is eating it. Gerber puffs get eaten before they reach the floor, ok. Now he’s shredding a loaf of bread, must stop him. Toddler protests but is distracted by the buttons on the dishwaher. I keep wrapping, nearly done. Toddler starts sampling different foodstuffs. Toddler makes tower of cans and knocks them down. Toddler bangs on pans. Kitchen looks like a bomb has hit it. But I’m done.
Of course, he complains vigorously when I try to remove him from this paradise and take him to the post office, but no-one promised me this would be easy. Off we go, gifts are mailed at 4.56pm on the last posting date for the UK, and this morning my mom emailed to say they arrived safely. Hallelujah!
I have friends who are guilty of this too. Doesn’t it make you feel better when it’s not just you? This is the real reason why we join moms groups. A friend with a toddler and a newborn daughter was having immense trouble breastfeeding. After a few days of difficulty, her baby decided to latch on and nurse! At the same time, her toddler decided to decorate his entire body with marker pen. She wisely let him get on with it while the baby nursed. They all had a bath afterwards, and her daughter has nursed great since.
Although we want him to think the bed is for sleeping, I let my son bellyflop on his bed if it’s the only way I can get dressed when we really, really have to go out. I let him unreel several rolls of sticky tape into a huge sticky mountain then decorate my legs with it when I absolutely had to meet a work deadline.
So once in a while I let the rules go. After the kitchen-giftwrap incident, we got back from the post office, loaded the dishwasher together, and all was back to normal by the time Dad got home. And since then, he’s decided he does like bread and three new kinds of breakfast cereal.
Kid gets to have a little forbidden fun, mom gets things done, and everyone is happy. And it’s only once in a while. Honest!