My toddler is turning. I knew it would happen, but this one took still took me by surprise.
Ben was always the happy-go-lucky, sweet little angel type. He was the easy one. He would happily tag along to his older brother’s activities, playing sweetly with his little toddler buddies during gymnastics, basketball, soccer, you name it. Restaurant eating out as a family with him was a breeze. Cuddles and kisses and sunshine and rainbows. Easy peasey.
And then recently. On a brisk, sunny spring morning. Big brother was at school and we were enjoying our one-on-one time.
“Momma? I have more milk peez?”
“Sorry bud, you had two full glasses with your breakfast. You can have some water or juice if you are still thirsty, ok?”
Then I saw it. Drastic affect change. Eyes narrowed into little daggers. Quiet growling. Head down, fist out in front of him in defiance of this newly set boundary. “No, Momma. I. Want. Milk.”
I chuckled inside, but held firm in my resolve. “I know you want more milk, and you can have some later. But no more milk now. Your choices are water or apple juice. Which would you like?”
“No water. No juice. No momma…. I. WANT. MILK.”
I carried about my business, purposefully cleaning the kitchen after addressing him once more. “We are done talking about milk. If you are thirsty, I will get you juice or water. When you are ready to make a choice let me know. You can have juice or water.”
He looked at me with fiery eyes, adamant in his disposition. “But, Momma, “ he claimed, progressing into a tantrumish wail, “I. HATE. WATER. I HATE WATER! I HATE, HATE, HATE WATER!!”
Well, then. I guess I just never anticipated this little being of water feeling so very opposed to one of the life forces that helps to sustain him. Excuse my confusion, little Ben. So hard to accept your new strong feelings when you downed that huge water bottle at the park yesterday. Just sayin’, dude. (Side note – any of you moms out there find yourself talking to yourself or your kid, completely inside your head when it is just you guys? I find myself having sarcasm infused, full conversations between myself and my imaginary, reasoning, rational child.)
Same thing happened when we were picking out socks the next morning. In my sleepy haze I grabbed the first pair of socks sticking out of his sock drawer and went to put them on as per the usual. Ben grabbed them suddenly out of my hands. “No, Momma! NO YELLOW SOCKS!”
Well, ok. That’s cute, I thought to myself. He never cares about what he wears, now he is becoming his own person. Great, I’ll encourage this. How fun!
“Okay Benny Boo, what socks would you like to wear today?” Reopen the drawer. We shift through it a bit and he is happy for the newfound independence. LITERALLY ten minutes later and we are still shifting through the drawer. Every pair he deems inappropriate for his day of lounging around the house. Not good enough for these dirty floors I guess. Suddenly we have the highest standards for in home footwear. I happen to glance down at my holey, ancient socks and then into Ben’s plethra of clean, new socks and feel a tad resentful.
“Okay Ben, we need to make a choice here bud. YOU get to choose, so which socks? Mom has to get downstairs and eat, I am working early today.”
“Ummmmm…. No green. No blue. No grey. No Chase (Paw Patrol). I DUNNO.”
“Okay, let me help you dude. I see yellow and red here. Which one would you prefer, the yellow socks, or the red?”
“Momma. I tell you. I HATE. RED.” Serious face, head down, eyes narrowed and a fierceness that is usually so absent from his sweet little face. This time I couldn’t help it, I cracked up.
“Okay, okay. NO RED! We HATE red! I can’t believe I didn’t know that, sheesh. Get it together Mom. Alright so no red, then I guess you’re picking yellow?”
He laughed for a second, narrowed his eyes, then sure as shit glared at me and said, “Momma. I hate yellow,too. I want pink.”
Oh, great! The one color we don’t have. Sounds good, kid. I’ll just create a pair for you right now. Please hold as I get the sock factory stored in the back of my closet all rigged up and ready to start production. I mean, nothing else to do today. Really, it’s fine. Let me make note of all the changes around here though real quick, so we can avoid this sort of snag in the future. NO YELLOW. NO RED. NO WATER. Okay, think we are up to speed for now. Phew!
My point is, this kid is turning. He is swiftly approaching his third birthday and with that new found sense of independence and, quite frankly, a bit of an attitude. I simultaneously love and loathe this new phase. He is still so sweet and cute and funny. He wants me around all the time, but is getting ready to make his own choices and I have been sharply reminded that they will not most likely NOT fall in line with what choices I would make for him.
I am psyching myself up for the changes, as he is my last baby (at least until perhaps I can foster one day). Even when you are ready to be done with the baby phase, each big milestone makes you glance back with a somber sweetness. I can feel some of the “lasts” encroaching upon our sweet relationship, and I think we are ready to handle them. So I try to laugh and look at Ben “turning” (reminds me of The Walking Dead) through a decidedly positive lens. These stages don’t last forever. They are short and they are wonderful and they are funny and they are aggravating. Sometimes all at the same time. Here is to the “Threenager” years, Boo Bop. I am so lucky I get to be your mom throughout your most recent identity crisis.
And sometimes I will even pick my battles and give you a third cup of milk, you little weirdo. I know how you HATE water.