It’s a Mexican standoff.
I’m braced in front of the bedroom door in the hallway, holding the handle so Ewing, 3, can’t escape. Ewing is standing on the other side, furiously twisting the knob and banging on the door, screaming unintelligibly about something having to do with him not needing a rest. Sleep is poised somewhere in between, spewing its droopy-eyes-and-crabby-disposition-inducing poison onto my son, hesitating just long enough to allow this atomic level meltdown to infect both Ewing’s and my spirits with rage before descending fully upon my normally sweet boy, carting him off to a much-needed dreamland.
My son is 3, and I might kill him. Not really, of course, but figuratively. Figuratively, I’m on the brink.
This standoff and the increasingly frequent others like it don’t just happen out of the blue. They are carefully contrived, multi-level breakdowns orchestrated by The Gods of Toddlerdom to destroy any semblance of sanity parents possess and wreak havoc on the fragile psyches of young, developing minds.
They begin with a toddler’s refusal to do something — take a nap, pick up his toys, finish his vegetables, get ready for bed — and escalate until both parent and child are kicking, screaming, and desperately attempting not to physically harm the other. They involve coaxing, level-headed bargaining, bribery, shouting, threatening, stomping, and eventual loss of rational thought, not one of which is successful in restoring order to the universe.
They are the product of a child being 2-4, and they are the absolute worst.
Were I not already pregnant with my third child, I would swear off any and all future offspring. I would run to the lady doctor and demand a drive-by sterilization immediately. I would attempt to tie up my own baby maker right there in front of my bathroom vanity. I would wear a chastity belt — a cold, steely, cast iron chastity belt carefully fastened to my undercarriage for the rest of my living days.
I would do all that to avoid having to live through this childhood stage again. I would. I definitely would.
I remember with horror when my first son was this age. I did not know then that this was not unique to him. I did not know it was a universal rite of passage for preschool aged spawn. I could not fathom that this nightmare would repeat itself.
Well, it does repeat itself. It repeats itself every.single.time a child enters toddlerhood.
This is simultaneously my favorite and least favorite stage of parenthood thus far. It is my favorite because they walk and talk and say and do the most amazing things. And it is my least favorite because…well…because my kid is 3, and I might kill him. Not really, of course, but figuratively.
Figuratively, I’m on the brink.