When I can, I strive to facilitate my daughter's independence in her tenacious hunger to do things herself when there is so much she can't do. "I try! I try!" This desire came on suddenly and vigorously. And has slowed productivity greatly. We fight over teeth and clothes. I wait as she attempts to do what she sees us do. It is wonderful to watch her momentous improvement. Today she amazed me with her climbing ability at the park (where I had to hold her back from following the big kids). She tries, tries, tries. She wants to open and close things and to put on her own clothes (for half an hour with intense concentration if I let her). I watch her and am quite aware of the constant frustration of the whirlwind world of a tender toddler who can't quite get it.
Often she is unable to express what she wants so that I understand. She is repeatedly unsuccessful in manipulating the items around her in the way she intends. Her life is full of sites and sounds that are foreign to her. Her day is a constant bombardment of losing. Add in two big dogs who are always getting in the way. Boy, does she get angry with them! One will just brush her as he walks by and she'll exclaim that he pushed. Soon you will be the taller standing one, sweetheart.
Some days, even though I see her progressing and I am bursting with pride with her growth (you really should have seen her at the park), she gets so overwhelmed with her inability. She'll cry for something and then forget why she's crying. I'll attempt to help but if you ever have dealt with a toddler you know there is no reasoning when they are in the midst of frustration.
I love analogies. Logic helps abate much of my anguish. Putting myself in someone else's shoes. Trying to see the bigger picture. These things are not in her capacity. Nor will they be any time soon. I can tell her that remaining still will drastically cut the time it takes to change her diaper, but she will still twist to escape. I can tell her I am taking the sticker away because she's trying to eat it but all she'll see is that I took the sticker.
Right now it's all about distraction. It's about creating fun and excitement that will take away the anguish. It can be exhausting! Sometimes it's harder than others. And those times the screaming can go on for a while. I wonder if people question what's going on. The other night at a full campground she had a fit at 11 at night as she pushed me. "Go, go!" Good thing I eventually realized we forgot a night light and as soon as it was plugged in she relaxed to go to sleep.
Sleep. One thing that definitely lessons the breakdowns. Even though I know this, I too often push her sleep back to finish what we are doing or attend an evening get together. She has always been very adaptable, but now that she is a toddler sleep deprivation really shows. Her patience and perseverance diminish. When she attempts tasks like dressing or climbing she is apt to giving up and crying much, much quicker if she is short on the shut eye.
So when I put my wants in front of her sleep I'm ultimately lessening her ability to grow. This little learning sponge needs her zzzzzz. Yet sometimes she is so excited about her expanding atmosphere that the efforts are long winded. Today on the camp site we attempted nap at 1:30 only to venture out again an hour later to let off some steam and try nap again at 3. She wants to keep going.
Lately, though, she has been occasionally asking to go to bed. Sometimes she'll practically jump into the crib. She knows when she's tired. I like that she's adding that to her do-it-herself too. I have spoiled her in the area of sleep with my cuddles.
Soon she will be awake and we will be off to explore anew. Maybe back to the park or chasing squirrels again (which she calls me-mouses). Or we will try the canoe. Our last trip she was quite upset (loudly upset) that daddy wouldn't paddle with her on his lap. Maybe mommy will have to attempt doing the work for once. Or, maybe I could just get her to do it.