We recently had a weekend that I see in retrospect was the perfect tantrum storm. Three busy, sunny, playgroundy days culminating in extensive late-afternoon social plans that demanded varying degrees of behavior — a restaurant, dinners at friends’. Each evening we scratched our heads as Harper disintegrated into a toddler tornado. She’s been somewhat prone, lately, to Sybil-ish mood-transformations. Sure, why not? After months of new baby brother hype the guy arrives and turns out to be a needy potato that Mama’s obsessed with. We’re always razzing her to use the potty. We occasionally say no.
It also occurred to me that maybe the poor kid was also just a bit overscheduled, and that my somewhat desperate attempts to keep her occupied were actually running her ragged. So I did something that seemed to quell the freakouts immediately. No, I did not drug her. Reader, I let her play at home.
And that seemed to cure what ailed her. We’ve been hanging out in the reading fort a lot. The baby comes in too and squirms on a blanket while Harper lovingly sticks post-its to his onesie. Coloring on a card, putting the stamp on the envelope, and then walking to the mailbox to mail it made for one very exciting morning. The other day we got some balloons for Adam’s birthday and that was entertainment for the entire afternoon. And not just entertainment; she was practically beside herself with glee.
Now that I’m thinking about it, I feel pretty stupid. I mean OBVIOUSLY running around all day is stressful for a tiny person. Haven’t we all read a million articles about overscheduled kids? When did I become one of those weirdo New York parents who stresses out her kids with Big Fun? After all, when we are home I can pay a lot more attention to her, even with Alton cooing about, and this seems to be one of her main concerns these days.
Also, I mean, she’s my offspring. When I think about my childhood, some of the happiest memories are of my mother setting up a treasure hunt to occupy us in the house, or obsessively outfitting a homemade doll house with sponge-beds and match-box dressers, or of sitting under the front stairs alone to read a book. Unlike now, when I like to do exciting, outgoing, adventurous things like…uh…blog.