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Two toddlers

Now that we live in the future it’s really easy to buy any song you like. I do this often enough that my music collection is basically a bunch of random songs that I liked at some moment, and scrolling through it is a process of rediscovery. (What IS this song? Oh! Right! THAT song! I LOVE that song!) This happened to me today, and what with the human ability to find something that speaks to us in just about any random thing, it seems perfect for this month’s Parenting Challenge. I don’t know anything about this group–for all I know the song was written by a computer program designed to write songs that can seem meaningful in any context. ANYWAYS, here’s the part that felt right to me today:

Out of this noise, here comes the stillness.
Out of this chaos, here comes the order.

Two toddlers generate a shitload of noise and chaos. I am striving for stillness and order, and failing to achieve it. I mean literal noise and chaos, but I think I mean figurative stillness and order. I want stillness WITHIN. Order WITHIN. A more concise way of making my point would be to say: I feel like I had a handle on having a toddler, and now I have TWO. I am yelling at my children more than I would like and feeling highly ineffectual.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that some yelling is a good thing. Seriously, I don’t just mean not a bad thing, I mean actively good. They need to know that they can make me mad, and I need to be allowed to have some natural human reactions and they need to see anger, because they will see anger in their lives. But I don’t want it to be so common that they fear me, or that they don’t see it as unusual.

Also, it’s not like I don’t know a shitload of strategies for dealing with toddler non-compliance. It’s not like I haven’t researched this or thought about it. And I think I was doing okay (where by okay, I mean I had to go to therapy, and it’s a constant battle and waxes and wanes in terms of how I feel), but suddenly I’m feeling overrun by defiant children.

Partly it’s that Bun Bun is going through that classic phase of saying NO! to everything all the time. And Bunlet is imitating her. In his case, it’s mostly just imitation and not real non-compliance, but it’s still fucking annoying to have my life filled with NO!

So where does a mama turn when trying to reconnect with her more empathetic, patient self? Weirdly, for me it’s the primary source literature. Combined with the cocktail.** Reading papers like “The Role of Mothers’ and Fathers’ Parental Control and Coparenting in Toddlers’ Compliance” makes me ready to try again. Reading about normal family things described in technical ways* makes me laugh. It reminds me that it’s not that serious, this parenting project. And it also makes me teary. It reminds me of all the amusing little vignettes in my own home, the kind that are so precious.


“amusement generated by a sweet ass motherfucking stick was coded by examining toddler facial expression and presence of laughter.” (Bunny, 2014, p. 5123.)

It helps me find my way back to inner stillness and order. Whatever works, right?


*As in “[committed compliance] was coded when the child was wholeheartedly engaged in the clean-up task directed by the parent and needed very little or no parental intervention to maintain task orientation (e.g., the child eagerly snatches toys from the parent and puts them on the shelf while singing a clean-up song).” (the above study, p. 754).

**Last week I came home from work, and Bun Bun said, Does Mama want a cocktail? Not sure if I’m doing something well or poorly here…

9 Comments Post a comment
  1. If you figure out a way to make toddlers comply, let me know. My absolute worst parenting moment EVER happened when LG was 2.5.

    Now I remember why…

    May 22, 2014
  2. I like that you live in a future where Bun Bun realizes the importance of cocktails.
    Also, this puts my reading of mating in model organisms into new context…

    May 22, 2014
  3. I gave up writing about how fucking hard it is to parents two crazed rabbits. I do not want to remember this part, where I yell, and threaten to take away toy, and worse, taking said toys and having to deal with the aftermath.
    And then there are good parts, when George is such an angel, we go somewhere and he is a model of behaviour, he plays nicely, puts things back before taking a new toy, says please and thank you – I am bursting with pride and joy. Only later, he does not want to go home, picks up a handful of sand and throws it at a little girl. And then he just stands there for ten minutes, in front of that little girl and her mum, and I keep him there and ask him to apologise, because we don’t throw sand at people and when he make a mistake, we acknowledge it and apologise. And he doesn’t say anything, and the other mum finally decided it’s enough and leaves. Oh, god, how they can make me angry, these children…

    May 22, 2014
  4. Lovely photo. But what now? They say no? Oh. I am in the la-la-la place, where little children are only delightful and sweet. La, la.

    On the anger front, as a child of Angry Dad, I think you’re doing them a great service by showing them anger is normal and you still love them when you’re angry. This is really useful.

    May 23, 2014
  5. I find your perspective on anger and yelling to be so refreshing. I look forward to learning from your experience parenting 2 as I imagine it must be exactly as chaotic as you describe. I also want to come over to your house and drink a bun bun prepared cocktail.

    May 26, 2014
  6. I was just rereading this post in order to comment on it and my phone sounded its little chime, telling me there was an email…from you. I love those connecting moments.
    I love the caption on that photo nearly as much as I love the photo itself.
    And your reading of source literature benefits us all, you know. Not just your children, and yourself, but this entire community of Glum Bunny readers. So, cheers to you! Please keep on sharing your reflections on what you read because we clearly all love it.

    May 27, 2014
  7. “Sweet ass motherfucking stick” might be my new favorite phrase.

    I don’t have experience parenting, but I’ve always found solace in factual analyses as well. They’re just a nice reminder that hey, I’m not alone in all this shit, whatever the shit might be.

    Also, your kids are seriously cute.

    May 28, 2014
  8. Ana #

    What? Yelling is good? You just made my day/week/month/life.

    May 29, 2014
  9. Misfit #

    When she asks you if you want it shaken or stirred, you might tip into the not so great idea of baby bar tending land. I am not great at the defiance stages, so this seems brilliant to me.

    The last random song purchase was ages ago, but funny. The Jesus and Mary chain, hold on. Go entertain yourself with reliving teenage angst in memory.

    May 31, 2014

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