In which parenting a toddler might very well kill me

Sydney has been walking for roughly five and a half months. I can hardly illustrate to you how much she's been able to terrify me in such a short window. She began walking on her first birthday – running is probably the more operative word – and hasn't slowed down since.

Lately at the playground I've been trying to be less of a Helicopter Mom. I hate hovering over my kid and gasping and freaking out every time she falls down or gets dirty in the sandbox. I want my daughter to feel free to explore things, get messy, learn and grow without me screwing it up. We have three rules of thumb at the tot park: 1. Be safe; 2. Don't eat sand; 3. Be polite. That's pretty much it.

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This week my daughter has been in serious violation of rule number one. The jungle gym at our park is built for younger children. It has a wide, not-too-steep staircase that leads up to a platform. The platform in one direction leads to a gentle suspension bridge, that leads to another platform that has a slide and then an upper platform that opens up to a climbing wall, fireman's pole, and a climbing thing. I can follow Syd on the outside as she winds up the stairs, goes across the bridge and down the slide. We do this easily a hundred times every time we visit our playground. She sits at the top of the slide and proudly pushes herself off as I count "One, two, THREE!"

Usually.

A few days ago she stood at the top of the slide grinning at me. If you have kids you know that grin, that "I'm still trying to figure out what exactly I'm gonna do" grin that makes a mother's heart pause. A moment later she was climbing on to the top platform where the open precipice widened beneath her … the fireman's pole/climbing wall area. I think I set a new land speed record for climbing jungle gym equipment, people. I was up that climbing wall in 2 seconds, breathless, my smiling toddler laughing as I scooped her up and took her down the slide.

One more such incident and I'd had it with the park for the day. Suddenly? Being a Helicopter Mom ain't such a crazy idea.

Today only exacerbated my condition of Mom With Toddler. It rained hard all day, which meant no park, which meant Stir Crazy Toddler … a S.C.T. who is starting to realize that she doesn't have to obey my every command. Crap. Anyway, we hauled it out to Target just to get out of the house for a while, got home and got things put away and played for a while on the carpet before dinner. My daughter is in the habit of bringing us a book to read to her and then two pages in she pops back up to find another one or bash a toy around. Today, however, when I looked up from my book I saw that she had once again climbed on top of the footstool She Is Not Allowed To Climb On. Cue "that smile." I told her for the billionth time to get down. Her answer to this command? Jump up and down!! YAY!! I started up to grab her and she toppled off headfirst onto the wood floor. A huge welt the size of a quarter immediately sprung up on her head and she screamed and flailed in my arms as I called the doctor's office and tried to put an ice pack on her head.

WHY DON'T TODDLERS LISTEN?

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Thank goodness Grandpa arrived soon after Syd took her spill. I was very shaken up even though the nurse was very soothing and reassuring on the phone. Grandpa hung with us for an hour and helped watch for lethargy and vomiting … she was back to her usual wild self as soon as she calmed down. I gave her Tylenol, she ate a tremendous dinner, peed on her potty for the second time (!!!), and snuggled right into bed as usual.

Me? On the other hand? I'm wound tight as a clock right now. I don't know how much more my poor heart can take this week.

And it's only Tuesday.

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6 thoughts on “In which parenting a toddler might very well kill me

  1. Dana says:

    Oh man! My two year old has hit her hear HARD at least three times in the last month or so… Only once did it leave a goose egg on her head… But she is constantly searching for ways to do it again! Heaven help me!

  2. A'Dell says:

    This entire post showed up in my reader. Well done, Manda!

    I still helicopter Claire. Out playground is very stupid because all of the platforms have ledges 4-6 feet high where you can just WALK RIGHT OFF. So I hover and I yelp and I think, “Man, I cannot wait for the day that going to the park means I can sit on my ass on that bench for 20 minutes and just WATCH.”

  3. larmar says:

    oh my word. alex has totally done the hover thing. why do they put fireman poles on the gyms for little ones?!? I try not to helicopter too… but it’s hard because Alex insists on going up all the slides (and subsequently nails her face on it when she falls) and runs through the gyms without looking, so she misses the stairs and… again… nails her face.

    the park stresses me out. (although i keep thinking how JEALOUS i am that you live in an area where you can still go. I tried the big-food-at-the-mall thing the other day, and now we are home with whatever bug we caught there.)

  4. K@ourboxofrain says:

    I’m glad she seems none the worse for the fall. I don’t know how anyone survives toddlerhood — as a kid or a parent.

    Harry fell head first into the side of the tub after disobeying P and standing up. There was blood *everywhere* coming from his nose and mouth. And a lot of panic on all fronts. Thankfully, the pedi on the phone did some diagnostics and talked us out of going to the hospital (it was after-hours). Harry had a fat lip for a couple of days but has been otherwise fine since. And no more standing in the tub.

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