Getting the Hang of this Toddler Thing. Maybe.

By Angela

It feels like Matt and I have fallen into a routine again, which is why there’s been a lack of Eng Dynasty posts lately. Our days are long: we get up at 5:30, get ready for work, get Zelda ready for daycare, and depart for our respective commutes. I head to the metro, Matt drops Zelda off and drives into work. He picks her up in the afternoon, around 4, and I get home around 6. We’re just getting the hang of getting dinner started (which is easier on days I don’t telework) so that we don’t eat around 8. Then it’s a couple of hours of YouTube videos or video games before we tumble into bed. Rinse, repeat.

I’m oddly okay with this. At least, for now. I’m constantly tired, but my career is thriving and I’m succeeding at being a working mother. Every now and then I wish the days would slow down, but I’ve gotten a lot of what I’ve always wanted: a writing career, a job in a big city, motherhood, an amazing husband. Being tired is a small price to pay.

Couch time with Zelda.

Zelda is now almost two years old. I cannot believe how fast the time is flying. A few months ago I wrote about how I was nervous about having a toddler on my hands. Admittedly, I’m still nervous. I see toddlers having meltdowns in Target or read friends’ stories about living with their toddlers, and I think, “I’m so not ready.” But here we are, in the thick of it, and I wouldn’t say we are doing remarkably, but I also don’t think we’re doing a terrible job, either.

Currently, Zelda is babbling with a few words thrown in. I experience a little of that “Mommy Anxiety,” though, when people ask me if she’s talking. Our conversations go a lot like this:

Other person: How’s Zelda doing? She’s how old now?

Me: Oh, she’s great! Growing like a weed. She’s almost two. Can you believe it?

Other person: Oh wow, two? Is she talking yet?

Me: A little. She knows a few words, but it’s mostly babbling. 

Other person: Oh my niece/nephew/cousin was counting and saying his/her ABC’s by the time he/she was a year old! 

At this point in the conversation, my eyes glaze over and I have the urge to defend Zelda’s development, but I end up nodding, smiling, and escaping. I don’t know if it’s me being defensive, the other person being insensitive, or a combination of both, but my hackles always go up at the implied comment that Zelda is somehow inferior or defective in some way.

Truthfully, she awes me, which is probably why I get so defensive. She’s fearless. She started attempting to scale the couch when I wrote my last post, but now she likes to climb up on the armrest and do a dramatic dive off it and onto the cushions. She runs full-tilt throughout the house and plays small games of hide-and-seek. She plays with Torrance and tries to be friendly to Gozer (who’s not having it).

She also figures things out at an alarming rate. She knows how to work the TV remote and navigate to her favorite show (Little Baby Bum). She knows how to get to her favorite app on the iPhone (Wheels on the Bus). She asks for help when she’s stuck, but she always tries to do things herself, too. She’s learning to clean up after herself and understands the concepts of “hot” vs. “cold.”

Mid-tantrum after Matt left to walk the dog.

Her tantrums, however, are not as awe-inspiring. I put her down, and she squawks. I tell her “No, not right now,” and she wails. Sometimes she flops on the floor like a fish. I leave her there until she decides to act more civilized. Sometimes, when I tell her no, her face crumbles and she cries loudly. Just this morning she batted me in the face, and I said, “No, we don’t hit people.” She started with a pout, and by the time I got her outside and strapped in her car seat, she was full-on crying. But she didn’t hit me again, at least!  I wished Matt good luck on his commute and waved goodbye.

Mealtimes are still a challenge, but they are getting better. She eats a lot more than she used to. She loves fruit, french fries, and rice the most. On good days, she eats her dinner without a single boo. On the bad days, she eats a few bites and then sends some food over the side to Torrance. When I tell her to stop, I get one of three reactions: a cute smile, a scowl, or a sweeping gesture that sends all of her food to the floor. Sometimes she ends up wearing a lot of her food, but on those days Matt and I just smile, get the bath water running, and do what needs doing.

Mealtimes are a battlefield.

A lot of the time, I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. There’s so much pressure out there to do things perfectly, and there’s that weird feeling of competition I feel when reading posts online or talking to other mothers. Perhaps that’s something I need to work on, but for now I’m plowing ahead the best I can. It helps that Matt is on this adventure with me and doing the best he can as well.

Most of all, and perhaps the most important of all, is that I love seeing her out and interacting with the world. She’s changed my world, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she changes it for other people.

But not through tantrums.

2 thoughts on “Getting the Hang of this Toddler Thing. Maybe.”

  1. I love your posts…and for her not talking so much; just remind people that she is processing three languages before she speaks, English, Chinese and Urdu!!!!! They won’t question your response!!!

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