Toddlers know exactly when you are unavailable. It’s like they have innate radar that alerts them to do something naughty when you’re at your most vulnerable. How are they so smart?
This morning while pumping (clearly a case when I’m not able to jump at the drop of a hat), Eliza managed to find the small shells I had hidden from her in the bathroom drawer and do – I can only imagine what – with. I have found two of the five, and the other three? I honestly would not be surprised to find them come out the other end in her diaper tomorrow.
Which leads me to poop. Here’s another example of her craftiness, fresh from this morning. I sat Eliza down at the dining room table with her oatmeal, set Zach on his play mat in such a way that if he rolled 3 times in any direction he’d be relatively safe, and took the moment to head to the bathroom. Of course, tonight I’m supposed to make a French side dish for a fun girls dinner party, so I grabbed my “Art of French Cooking” masterpiece and sat for what I hoped would be 4 or 5 uninterrupted minutes to flip through the vegetable chapter. Not so. One of Eliza’s current annoying habits is calling my name over and over and over until I respond. I chose to ignore it (again, if she doesn’t get what she wants, which is a response, perhaps she’ll stop), but after about 25-30 “MAAAAAAA-MEEEEEEs” I finally got up and went to look. She had punished me. Her oatmeal was everywhere – on her clothes, the rug under her, her cloth-padded chair – and she was standing up in a pretty precariously dangerous position. She then proceeded to require me to feed her, probably because I started Zach on solid foods yesterday and she wants the attention.
The point is that I have to start giving her more credit than I do, and I must begin anticipating her antics. Both of these situations, at least to some extent, were avoidable. I have a child lock on the bathroom doorknob, but I had failed to close the door before sitting down to pump. Likewise, Eliza has this week decided to refuse sitting in her high chair anymore. It’s a timely choice because I now need it for Zach, but the only alternative we currently have is for her to sit in the Bumbo on a dining room chair. It’s not safe, for one, and she can’t be strapped. She’s also not tall enough to reach her food easily, which is part of why she threw the oatmeal everywhere. (Thank goodness we have the dog. In fact, I’m sure I will complain inexorably about Abbey, our mutt, so this is a good time to remember why I keep her around.) So I could have asked Greg, my husband, to sit with her and help her eat while I went to the bathroom, or I could have brought her to the bathroom with me before sitting her down to eat. Or I could somehow make the time to get to the store for a proper booster seat.
Part of being the parent of a toddler is accepting a lack of control. Things are going to get messy and that’s part of the fun. But another part is realizing she is learning how the world works, and because I already know the answers to that, I can prevent a lot of frustration. The best offense is a good defense, right? Eliza might have stealth radar, but I have the atom bomb.