The Commissary

We recently acquired a magnificent new Pottery Barn Kids table and chairs set from Craigslist, and, as I knew it would, it has proved itself quite useful. It has been a place for Madeline to explore all of the arts (painting, coloring, stamp-padding, play-doughing), a place to play board games, and, much to my delight, Madeline quickly figured out that it is a great place to stage imaginary play. I’ve been served some five-star, four-course meals from her play kitchen at our new table. She arranges her plates on a tray and brings it to the table to serve from. Then she bosses me on what to eat first. It’s legit.

This morning, Madeline placed her cash register on the table and insisted I go shopping at the commissary. So I pulled out the shopping cart and started filling it with a few items from her fridge. Before I could even check out, she decided it would be much better for us to switch places. So I took my rightful place as head cashier of the commissary, set up my hidden camera and filmed our romp into the Land of Make-Believe.

help! my toddler is driving me crazy!

It starts before the day has even gotten started. She calls out, “Mamamamamamamamam!” I go in. She’s standing, paci in her mouth and lamb in her arms. We smile at each other. I ask if she wants me to pick her up. She nods and grins. I reach for her. She drops to her bottom and lunges away, laughing. “I’ll just go sit in the chair until you’re ready to come out.” The moment I sit- “MAMA, ALLDONE! UP! PEAS!” “You want to get out now? You’re not going to squirm away? You’re going to let me pick you up, so I can change your diaper and we can go downstairs for milk?” “Yah,” she says seriously. I get up and go to her, my arms about to reach for her. She throws herself onto her pillow, giggling maniacally. Rinse and repeat at least two more times.

“Please don’t put Lamby down there, I just put Butt Paste on you.” She smiles as she does. I throw lamby into the hamper along with her pajamas. “You’ll get him back tonight.”

At the top of the stairs, she whines for me to pick her up, as if she doesn’t know how to get down them herself. She laughs as we bounce down the stairs.

“If you want to help feed the dogs you have to actually give them their bowls. Look how patiently they are waiting. 3…2…1. Alright, let Mommy have the bowl, please. I need to give them their breakfast. Thank you. Here you go, puppy.” She throws herself on the floor, shrieking and kicking. Eventually she gets up to rattle the crate doors, which starts her laughing again.

“Please don’t climb on top of the dishwasher. It’s not safe, and you could break the door. Please don’t grab the glasses. You can get all of your plates. No! Not the knives. Here- you put this pot away. Thank you!” A minute later, I trip over three colanders she pulled out while putting her pot away.

“If you push your wagon/train/vacuum into them, I’ll have to take it away. We don’t hurt our dogs. This is your only warning.” She pushes it into one or both of the dogs (or into my china cabinet), while looking over her shoulder at me smiling. “I’m putting this into the closet now. We don’t hurt our dogs. You can try again tomorrow.”

I sit down to take my first sip of coffee, and she is instantly at her high chair, pointing to her tongue. “UP! PEAS!” Of course, she’s hungry. I’ll just get up and get her a banana. And oatmeal. And cereal. And then I’ll wipe up the remainder of whichever item she decides to chuck onto the floor. My coffee is now cold.

[Insert at least three tantrums here over any combination of the following: chasing the dogs, me not paying attention to her, getting hurt, getting into trouble for banging on the china cabinet, not being allowed to wash her hands, not wanting to lay down for a new diaper that she told me she needs, not being allowed to drink my coffee, climbing on the back of the couch, being told not to put her foot into the dogs water dish, being asked not to throw _______.]

After a nice lunch, she intentionally smears her hands, covered in cottage cheese, into her hair and looks straight into my eyes. “I don’t think you needed that product, but if you think you did then fine. Let’s go upstairs for nap.”

She screams at the bottom of the stairs, because she can’t close the gate on her own/I won’t carry her/she can’t climb as fast as I walk.

Naptime. Bliss. A meal in peace. Chores without help. A reboot. Silence. “MAMA!”

A rainy day is like a painful repeat of our morning, but a sunny day? A chance to escape the confines of our walls. I get to really see my beautiful, happy, playful child. She’s curious. She’s silly. She’s agile. She’s social. She’s fun.

And then we go home. She throws the bowl of kibble onto the kitchen floor, because I’ve asked her to bring it to the dog. She cries huge crocodile tears, while holding onto my legs, as I heat up her dinner.

She picks and chooses whatever strikes her fancy off of the plate, her health and nutrition clearly not high on her list of priorities. She throws every black bean/green pea/noodle onto the floor, laughing and taunting the dogs to fetch it, which they undoubtedly do after she’s delivered nearly an entire plate of food to the floor. This leads to me sending them out, which leads to the dog jumping the fence while I’m wiping her hand. I throw open the ripped screen door (Lily has run straight through it, again), shouting- HUDSON RIVER WILHELM, YOU COME!- to the scores of happy families grilling on their back patios. It echoes. I cringe.

We go upstairs for a bath. She tosses her toys out, simultaneously splashing and hitting me with each one. “If you throw it out, you don’t get it back.” She leans back and! my toddler is driving me crazy!She performs a perfect death roll, as I attempt to wrangle a diaper and pajamas onto her damp body. She’s out of my lap before I’ve gotten two pages into I Am A Bunny. She hides behind the chair. She runs down the hall and into my room, squealing. I don’t chase her. She grabs Lamby from the laundry basket on her way back in and puts her paci into her mouth. I pick her up and rock her, singing her lullaby. She listens for the first verse and puts her finger up my nose during the second. I kiss her once from Mommy and once from Daddy.

I shut her door thinking, “Tomorrow will definitely be better.”

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So am I crazy? Or is she?


Ever have one of those days (or weeks) where you look around and draw a blank? Today is one of those days for me.

My clothes are covered in boogers and spit up and crumbs and dog hair. The dishwasher is screaming to be emptied, so that the dirty dishes that are piling up in the sink can be moved over. The kitchen floor is covered in pots, tupperware, magnetic letters and dried spit up from Madeline’s coughing fits. The family room looks like a small bomb of miniature figurines, sippy cups and books exploded. There are two laundry baskets full of clean clothes on the floor of my room; they’ve been there waiting to be folded for more than a week. The toilets need to be scrubbed. I need to wipe down the house and toys with Clorox wipes to make sure we are rid of these germs before the holidays. There is no good food in the house. We’re low on coffee pods. My car need to be vacuumed out.

I don’t feel like taking care of any of it. The last two weeks have taken it out of me. I feel blah. I’m feel tired. I feel whiny and complain-y. I just want to put socks on and crawl back into bed and pull the covers up to my chin. I want to watch all of the shows I’ve fallen behind on. I want someone to paint my nails and wax my eyebrows. I want to not have to conjure up a dinner for the next week at least. But none of that looks like it’s going to happen.

Instead, I put on a little makeup, spritzed my wrists with perfume and put a bow into Madeline’s hair (which she immediately pulled out). We’re going back to the doctor this afternoon to see if there is a solution for her lingering cough. And we’re at least going to try to look presentable to the real world. Wish us luck!

Figurines in tupperware.
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