Everybody has their ups and downs. It’s unavoidable. And for me, most often those fluctuations are over typical stuff and usually so small that they aren’treally a big deal. But I’ve found that the emotions of an almost-two-year-old can be unpredictable and all over the place. DUH, right? I try to be steady and consistent, but sometimes her roller coaster ride can suck me in and make my emotions equally as extreme. I can go from laid back easy going sipping on my coffee, to pulling my hair out, to wanting to cry in just seconds. Yes, mood swings. I know, where’s the Midol, right?Â Some days more than others, but every once in awhile, there really is a reason for her volatile moods.
Ellie had gone to bed too late. Not because we put her to bed late, but because she couldn’t, or wouldn’t fall asleep. I tried putting her to bed on time like normal, but it took her two and half hours to fall asleep. Ever since we got back from Japan, her sleeping habits have changed slightly. The difficulty in her new sleep routine was catching me off guard and I think I was being a little too soft. I’ve gone face-to-face with her in the past and won, and since then, I keep thinking I don’t have to go down that road again. Thinking every challenge compared to that will be a piece of cake. But I’m realizing that was just one of many arduous battles.
Anyway, so she went to bed late… again. I didn’t know how well she would sleep, if she would wake up in the middle of the night, or at her usual time. I sat on the couch with my eye twitching wanting a drink and a dozen donuts to calm my nerves. Would she be sleep deprived and crazy during the day? Would she fight for a nap again? Needless to say, I went to bed feeling tense and didn’t sleep very well.
Morning came and I heard her chatting through the baby monitor. When I wearily walked into her room, she was sitting up reading her books and smiling. I breathed a sigh of relief. It’s going to be an okay day. I happily started making her breakfast while she smiled and played in the living room. But halfway through the meal, things abruptly changed. She went from happily eating her French toast to shoving it away saying “No!” What happened!? I started off sweetly asking Ellie, “Oh sweetie, what’s wrong punkin’? You want water? Juice? What do you want?” But when she violently rejected everything she asked for yet still pointed and cried screaming, “Dis! Dis!” I could feel my shoulders tense. What was she pointing at? Nothing!
I figured she was just tired and a change of scenery would do her good. Luckily, we were going to the Wizard of Oz children’s exhibit at the Henry Ford with our friends Evelyn and Kelly. I just needed to hold out until our ride got here. Then she’d be all smiles. All I had to do was get her shoes and jacket on. No big deal right? Wrong. It turned into trying to reason with a crying toddler throwing a tantrum. What was I thinking? You can’t reason with these people.
Again, I started gentle and sweet. “Ellie, it’s time to put your shoes on. We are gonna see your friend Evelyn! You want to go outside right? Well, you have to put your shoes on. Sit down please.”
But she started screaming and pulling her shoes off after I had just put them on. I clenched my teeth. I was still trying to be calm but when she refused to put on every pair of shoes she picked out I could hear a change in my tone. It wasn’t quite so gentle anymore. “WHAT?! What do you want? Just wait a minute and we’ll go outside! You have to put your shoes on and coat before we go outside!” Her only response was “NOOOO!” followed by “Outside!” AHHH!
No wonder Ellie bites. When frustration builds so much and words can’t communicate your feelings, biting seems like a logical choice. I was so frustrated all I wanted to do was bite her. And I’m not talking the “your-cheecks-are-so-cute-I-want-to-bite-them” kinda way either. (Relax, I didn’t actually bite her, nor did I come close. I’m just saying I could empathize with her frustration.)
And just as I was about to bang my head against the wall from having had enough, our friends pulled in the driveway. And as soon as Ellie saw Kelly open the car door, she stopped crying and smiled. PUNK.
While Ellie moved on, it took me a little while to come down from my hyper elevated tense state. But once we got to the museum and I saw Ellie running, having fun and holding hands with Evelyn, I forgot about the stressful morning and smiled. I breathed another sign of relief thinking, “I was right, she was just tired and needed to get out. This was perfect and she’d have a great nap this afternoon.” But I didn’t realize this rollercoaster ride wasn’t quite over yet. I was an amateur for thinking Ellie would remain consistent for the rest of the day.
After the active morning, I figured naptime would be a smooth ride. She rustled around for a bit but actually fell asleep, IN HER BED! Yes, I was right! But twenty minutes later she woke up and would not go back to sleep. I laid down on the floor next to her being as quiet as I could staring at the wall just hoping she’d fall backÂ asleep. After it was completely quiet for ten minutes I slowly moved my head up to peek in at her, and to my surprise I saw two eyes peering right back at me. ARRGH! At this point I just wanted her to sleep and was not up for a fight. So I laid back down on the floor grumbling to myself. “If you’d go to bed when you were tired last night… grumble grumble.”
After 30 minutes or so IÂ looked in the bed again and she was still awake. But she looked different. Her cheeks were red, and she felt like she had a fever. Uh oh. I lack that skill of feeling a fever with my hands. So if I thought she was warm, she must have had a fever. No wonder she was so fussy today. Now I felt bad for feeling so frustrated with her and wanting to bite her. I picked her up and brought her downstairs. She climbed on the couch and just laid there like a lump of crab meat. Then she asked for a blanket and in a very unenthusiastic voice requested, “Gabba Gabba?” Oh man. Now I felt really bad.
She stayed on the couch like that watching Yo Gabba Gabba for two and a half hours. One, we never let her watch that much TV, and two, when she does watch Yo Gabba Gabba she’s dancing and singing along. Not this time. Poor kid. She usually jumps up and down and squeals at the sight of Aya coming home, but she didn’t even budge this time.Â Understandably so, because she had a fever of 102 degrees! Oh no! The guilt! Aya tried putting her down at night but Ellie was just too hot and uncomfortable she couldn’t fall asleep. Aw, poor kid. I didn’t really want to bite you, I didn’t mean it. We can watch as much Yo Gabba Gabba as you want.
So Aya could get some sleep before work, Ellie and I slept on the couch watching TV. She would dose off, but as soon as the episode would end, with her eyes still closed she would wearily whine, “more…” Okay sweetie, we’ll watch it again.
I couldn’t help but think, “What a day.” The crying, the frustration, the whining, it all made sense now. This is not what I expected when I woke up this morning. We had been happy, sad, tired, frustrated, anxious, cautious, worried, guilty, hungry, angry, sleepy, and now Ellie was feeling sick with a fever. And while sitting quietly on the couch with Ellie sleeping in my lap, the only thing I was feeling was content. I was where I wanted to be, and you know what, I think she was too.