We've been having a great time. Yesterday was a trip to the beach with friends - well worth the drive across town - Sebastian has really taken to the ocean. After being too frightened to go within ten feet of the water's edge as recently as April, he will now venture in on his own as long as one of us is close behind. He laughs as each wave cools his body with a mix of amusement and wonder that only a toddler can produce. It is musical and contagious, as hard and stoic as I have been lately - that laugh got me going.
I have been taking life much too seriously. I have been taking myself and my position as household matriarch too seriously. Every flaw is fatal, every shortcoming or mistake bringing me to a dead stop. Moving so quickly I look like I am standing still - until one day I found I really was. Just standing still.
It is a problem I think I have had my whole life. I over-analyze, I rehearse hypothetical situations in my head until I can't remember what is memory and what is fabrication, I see all challenges as my own Everest, all failings as further proof of my un-worth. I have always looked outside myself for acceptance and assurance.
Having a kid is like having a life-line, being the primary care-giver for a child has a way of consistently bringing me back from the edge. Sebastian is my blessing. When I get too caught up in myself, in my internal dialogues - he manifests it. He is this tiny, loud, projector that reminds me when I am falling off the path - and I love him for it. I worry that this role is somehow fucking him up in ways only intense therapy later in life will correct* but considering the family he was born into, therapy later in life is likely a given.
He has been "a terror" - he has been a frustrated two-year-old. A smart, funny, caring, energetic two-year-old. His current weapon of choice is the loud, screamy, shouting "NO!" Guess where he got it from? I used it on him first, so it really is fair game - working on lessening its use means minimizing its power. This means that I can not use it** and when I look at why I had been using it, I find it is primarily because I have been feeling too fat and lazy to properly handle difficult situations (from hitting to running off to grabbing food off the grocery store shelf). The second step is that I will have to find ways to take its power away from Sebastian - this is less cut and dry.
I have been trying to ignore it, but that technique is losing its power as Sebastian has discovered the magic of escalation. If yelling doesn't get mom to react, I will try yelling plus throwing things. At some point I have to react and as soon as I react the simple ignoring has lost its power. Simple ignoring seems to be best saved for situations like whining. I think a mix of calm reaction, coupled with polite, firm, reminders that yelling is not how we communicate. And lets not forget the power of paying attention to him as in, before he gets frustrated, taking the time to listen and help him articulate what he wants/needs and responding to those needs in a loving, supportive fashion. Sounds pretty simple.
We are also working on potty learning, though I am still being a lazy ass about it. I think part of the problem is our switch last spring back to disposables, not only do they allow Sebastian much longer before he becomes uncomfortable, they also take away that urgency that cloth held. In cloth diapers, as soon as I knew he was wet/dirty, I knew I had to change him - otherwise I would have to face changing his entire outfit. Now, I know, but I know it can wait until the timing is more "convenient" (wet diapers only) - Andrew and I have talked in depth about getting a "Wonder Wash" - a hand-powered portable washer - so that we can switch back to cloth diapers. I think it is something we should do - but we have a very long list of those things and they are all getting a little lost. But for now, with what we've got, we're stuck with disposables and I think I just have to accept that we will go though potty bootcamp - and soon, if we want to be through this before new baby comes.
Must. stop. making. excuses.***
*Sebastian, I promise you that I will pay for any therapy you need. It is the least I can do, sweetpea.
**except in dangerous situations when a staccato NO is totally appropriate- and because it should be something that will stop a child in their tracks - it is just another reason to halt its regular use
*** but I'm so GOOD at it!!!