Parenting

Well, this wasn’t exactly how I pictured it

Life before children (see how clean everything is?)

Back in the day, when I was a single girl, I was able to fantasize about what my life would be like after I got married and started a family.  My children would be little angels, always cooperating without hesitation, never throwing a tantrum or screaming in public, making my coffee in the morning and bringing it to me…

Okay, so I didn’t really imagine that I would have perfect offspring.  Actually, I didn’t give much thought to most parenting scenarios at all.  Sure, I was aware that my kids would go through the phases that kids do, from toddlerhood to the teenage years.  But beyond that superficial understanding, I didn’t think of any of the potentially awkward and/or embarrassing situations that come with being a parent.

Last Thursday was Really Little Man’s first well-baby checkup (three shots, poor baby!), and Little Man also needed a flu shot.  Since my husband is on a light rotation (He’s doing research.  I call it vacation rotation.  It’s great), he was able to come to the appointment, and so I brought both kids and it was a family event.  Our pediatrician was impressed at the turnout.

There was a long wait time before our appointment, and Little Man did pretty well.   After we got into the appointment room and tried to interact with the doctor, things got very interesting.  It went something like this:

Pediatrician: “Well, let’s take a look at how RLM is on the growth charts.  It looks like he’s in the 50th percentile…”

[Little Man has discovered that the door handle is within reach.  He has opened the door and is eying the hallway.]

Me: “Mmm hmm, Little Man, let’s stay in the room, okay?  Would you like a pretzel?”

Pediatrician: “…and all around.  How are his diapers?”

[Little Man is rapidly opening and closing the door, accompanied with triumphant declarations:  “Open!”  “Close!”]

Me: “Pretty normal, I’d say.  Does it bother you that he’s opening and shutting the door so much ?”

Pediatrician: “No, it’s okay.  How is he sleeping?”

[Little Man is now escaping into the hallway.  My husband retrieves him and begins to let him play with the sink faucet.  Little Man now exclaims: “On!”  “Off!”  “Water!”]

A picture of a Toggle light switch.
"On!" Offfffffff!"

Me: Pretty well, thank G-d.”

Pediatrician: [to my husband] “I think that faucet leaks.  His legs are going to get wet if he stays up there.”

[my husband removes Little Man from the sink area, and Little Man proceeds to climb on a chair to access a light switch, which he flips on and off, declaring “On!”  “Off!”.  Mercifully, it is not the main light switch to the room]

You get the idea.  At one point, after the doctor had left and I was waiting for the nurse to come into the room for the dreaded shots, Little Man escaped into the hallway and was trying to enter other rooms.  My husband was at the front desk, I was holding the baby, and my requests for Little Man to stay in the room were unheeded.  It was far, far too exciting out there!

Really, I felt that none of the things Little Man did were outside of the realm of normal toddler behavior, but it was a strange sensation to have him doing all these things in public.  The last time we had a doctor’s appointment, the most he did was open and shut some cabinet doors.

This time I found myself wondering if I was too permissive of a parent.  Was I letting him “get away” with too much?  By letting him turn lights on and off in our house, was I creating problematic public situations?  What kind of behavior could I reasonably expect from my toddler?  Was I picking and choosing the right battles?  I wasn’t exactly embarrassed by his actions, but I was very, very self-conscious.  I was also acutely aware that I had entered another stage of parenthood and I had no idea what to do.

It occurred to me that I had never imagined this situation.  I hadn’t considered what might happen when I bring both children to an appointment like this (and rest assured I wouldn’t have attempted it if my husband hadn’t been available.  I’m just not that brave).

My experience of being a parent has been a wonderful lesson in humility and perspective.  Humility because I had so many silly ideas about how easy it was to be a parent…before I actually was one, of course!  And perspective because it’s a constant reminder that I am not in control.  Yes, it is my responsibility to raise my children so that they become healthy adults, and good members of society, and to give them parameters in which to function, but they are their own people, with their own minds and desires.  Amazing!

What is your take?  What can we expect a toddler to do in situations like this?  What’s “normal?”

 

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14 thoughts on “Well, this wasn’t exactly how I pictured it

  1. I’m not a parent, but based on my copious babysitting experience, I’d say that sounds like totally normal toddler behavior. I like how he was practicing the same “on-off” skill in all the different activities!

  2. This is too cute! You should be happy your toddler doesn’t scream in terror when he is at the doctor. Mine doesn’t stop screaming from the second we come into the room (before the doctor even walks in) until we are out of there! I have to try to calm him down the entire time!

    I think it’s normal for him to be curious and check out other people’s drawers/doors/lightswitches…it’s like when my son sees a phone in any public place he goes “oooh” and reaches out for it! Or if he sees anything with buttons or wires – like the credit card machine in the grocery store…

    Sounds like you are doing a good job being a mommy!

  3. Going to the doctor’s office with more than one child is awful. I’ve done it with, but mostly without, Ben and end up exhausted each trip. Chocolate. Eat lots of chocolate.

  4. Hilarious! Austin’s favorite things right now are open/close and on/off. We spend the majority of our days appeasing his desires to do these things in EVERY situation imaginable. I’m also wondering if maybe there’s a boundary I’m missing :)

    1. Austin and Little Man should have a toddler on/off extravaganza. They could follow each other around and flip switches, play with faucets. I think they would have a great time! I feel the SAME way about the boundary thing. I think we feel that way ’cause they are our oldest kids. Let’s touch base in a couple years about the second boys and see how we feel.

  5. Like Devorah, I have one who cries his eyes out from the time the nurse tries to take his temp/height/weight until well after the Dr. leaves. It was loads of fun last winter when he had chronic ear infections and croup. Whee!

    I’m sure things are much more relaxed at your pediatrician’s office (at least that’s how things are at mine.) Quite normal to see a toddler exploring or hear them practicing their new vocabulary words. Our pediatrician is completely unphased by Joey’s antics, and it sounds like yours is the same.
    I can totally relate to seeing your child’s every day behaviors out in public, though. It is odd. My son is a handful, and although I don’t really care what other people are thinking, sometimes I do wonder!

    Although I know it is pretty standard, the thing he does in public that stresses me out is R-U-N. The other day we were at the park and my husband was going to drop us and fill the car with gas and come back. Before he could put the car in drive to leave, both kids had started running, but Sophie fell down and scraped her knee and was crying. Joey just kept on going. Had I been there myself, I would have been a little panicky. Which child do I tend to first? It’s not a huge park, but I didn’t want to let either child out of my sight. Fortunately, my husband was able to sit with Sophie while I retrieved Joey. I, literally, cannot turn my back on him for a second. Except for the park, I don’t let go of his hand for a moment unless I’m ready to run after him. Needless to say, we don’t make too many trips to the park without Daddy these days. I know it’s normal, but it worries me that he doesn’t listen to me very well, if at all.

    And I love the word permissive. I’m a big fan of, “Okay, you can do that ONE more time, then it’s ALL DONE,” especially when things are headed in a direction I might not want to go. It’s permissive, but with limitations. Kids should be able to do things and explore, but I don’t want to be one of “those” parents who let their child do anything. Plus, I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a germaphobe. I don’t let the kids touch too much “stuff” when we’re out, and I always have antibacterial wipes handy. Yeah, I’m one of THOSE parents.

    As for taking both kids to the doctor by myself, I don’t do it unless it is absolutely my last resort. Way too exhausting!

    1. It’s so good to hear other moms talk about their kids’ antics. Thank you! I like your permissive yet restrained bit. I’m going to try that. I’m sure Little Man will still not be thrilled when the end of whatever fun thing comes, but at least he had a warning, right?

  6. when I’m done taking my 3 year old twins to the doctor by myself, I always breathe a very wonderful sigh of relief that it’s all over. holding one kid who’s getting a shot while the other is opening the door to go galloping down the hallway— ah yes, fun times. You’ve reminded me that the 4 year old well visit is coming up soon. Gotta stock up on my duct tape….

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