Some days (ok, most days) Toddler really tries my patience.
From what I can remember, the rituals really began right around the time she turned two. That was the time we started telling her Mommy has babies in her belly. And then we took a two-week trip to Asia. That was the clincher. Starting with the plane ride, which we thought we prepared her for ahead of time. She was very excited to fly, even jumping up and down watching the planes land and take off through the big window in the airport boarding waiting area. Still excited when we got in the plane and she saw all the people sitting around us. Great while we taxi’d. Then, liftoff. Her face scrunched up in a look of sheer terror and the screaming commenced. And didn’t stop for 14 hours. Made me hope for a terrorist threat so we could abort this journey. It didn’t get much better after we landed either. With the upside down time difference (15 hrs or something like that), none of us were feeling great, but also dealing with a toddler whose routine was set in stone at home was just torture. What were we thinking? Our child DOES NOT travel well. Lesson learned.
Sometime during that trip, she formed a deep attachment to her blanket (“budget” to her). Before, she liked her blanket, and we would give it to her to sleep, but it wasn’t a necessity. In those two weeks, it had to be taken EVERYWHERE we went. And there was no sleeping without it. Funny enough, the IDENTICAL blanket Mommy brilliantly bought in anticipation of JUST THIS was immediately rejected no matter how many times we offered it. (Even to this day– that blanket is now baby brother’s.) So, fine. OK. Gotta remember the blanket now. I guess it’s better than picking up dropped pacifiers all day long or sucking on thumbs till age 6.
Lately, her obsession has been to close doors a certain way. “Like this” every night and naptime, a negotiation of how much the door to her room gets closed. But it’s a moving target. You think you got it at just the right angle, walk away, and hysterical yelling/crying incoherently about a “like this, not like this” will continue until you go back and the ritual starts all over. Finally last night I let her scream for 10 minutes. Then I went in and we calmly had a discussion about how the door needs to be and there will be no more screaming.
It may possibly have worked because there was no complaint about the door at nap time. However, there was something else. The pillow on her chair had fallen over. It needed to be righted, and placed to the side. All her dresser drawers must be completely closed, her stuffed animals and books aligned in just the right way, stickers stuck to the right places. I swear she makes things up sometimes just to stall, but then they become part of her ritual too. It’s maddening to the point you can’t do anything but throw up your hands. C’mon kid, just go to sleep!
Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of times when she’s super sweet. “I lub you, mommy.” She caresses her siblings and kisses them on their feet. “Mmmmuah!” But… gosh these rituals can be annoying when all I want to do is get a few minutes of quiet before the twins demand my attention. Please?
I know this is just a phase, and I definitely feel for parents of kids who have crazier rituals. But when does it end, and will the twins be just as bad times two?!?
lunchldyd is a mom to an almost 3 yr old daughter and her 3 month old twin brother and sister. She is also a high school teacher. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, 3 children under 3, and two neglected dogs.