A few days ago the parents went for a long walk: 17 km to be exact! We walked our tired toddler, who only slept minimally the night before, until she fell asleep in her Chariot. It didn’t take long. While strolling along the Bow River we discussed how ‘inconveniently’ she would fall back asleep just when we are finally fully awake, this after keeping us up from the wee hours of the morning.
The first few hours of the day turned out to be fantastic. We got to enjoy basking in the crisp morning sunshine while simultaneously breathing in the thin autumn air. After an hour of walking we arrived at the Calgary Zoo. Charlotte was pleasantly surprised when she woke up from her mini nap! We spent an hour and a half there before making our way back home. A lunch date for the parents loomed in the distance, this being conditional on Charlotte falling back asleep on our way back…This is where expectations went to die and all hope was lost.
She didn’t fall back asleep. We didn’t get to have a lunch date. She didn’t even fall asleep when we finally got back home! We wanted to nap together as a family but this was not happening as Charlotte started a kicking match, winning a gold every time. Why is she not tired!?
The day became a nightmare. Charlotte was officially over-tired; And this does not mean she will fall asleep anywhere anytime. Quite the opposite is true when she is in this state of exhaustion. I’m sure we can all remember a sleep-over that lead to someone getting hurt unintentionally as a result of pure hyper energy from over-exhaustion.
Anyway, the hitting ensued, followed by some tantrums, then playing us off against each other, more hitting, more tantrums. We’ve been up since 04:30. Now at 17:30, it was getting to be incredibly hard to be patient. I was trying to keep everyone sane and happy; Failing most of the time. Eventually I decided to reign it in. I grabbed a pillow, blanket and the last bit of sanity that I could muster and closed Charlotte’s bedroom door for the last time. With the blanket I folded a large square and dropped down on the pillow to rest my weary throbbing head. Charlotte obliged to the invitation to join me and she yawned her way into a slumber. As slow and painful as it was, at 19:00 she was snoring a little with one arm behind her head. I returned to the couch where Andrea was still ignoring reality by indulging in a warm cup of tea and the latest issue of Vogue.
In the end we parents should always strive to foster an environment of trust and mutual compassionate understanding between us and our children. By finding the balance between being emotionally present, and setting a healthy boundary of mutual respect between us, we can find a way to live in peace with one another. It takes oodles of patience to teach Charlotte about healthy expression; The patience is necessary because of the repetition of teaching the same thing over and over. The only way that Charlotte is able to communicate right now when she feels tired, frustrated, or overwhelmed is through non-verbal and sometimes violent means. The latter can take the form of biting, hitting objects or people, throwing herself or objects on the floor, usually followed by crying. Since our 2-year-old lacks healthy rational expression, she needs us to guide her feelings and channel her busy energy in a positive and constructive way. If we don’t prepare her for the world, the world will do it for us and that is not a gamble that I am willing to take.