The Samson Toddler

My childhood brain nearly imploded once when I overheard a learned adult hypothesize Samson was actually a scrawny guy. Blasphemy! Didn't they see the super accurate pictures on my Sunday School coloring page? But in a way, it kinda makes sense. Would everyone have been amazed by his strength if he looked like the Hulk with muscles rippling out like four Dwayne Johnson's stacked two high and two wide? Or would they have been more shocked if he had the typical dad-bod yet could swing a lion around like a small cat and go on a mass murdering spree with nothing but a donkey jaw?  

That sums up how I feel about my two year old right now.  He's a bit tiny for his age, although he does actually grow occasionally because I noticed recently his belly was starting to stick out of his 9-12 month shirts (which is unacceptable because we don't allow immodest crop tops in this household, so I promptly took it off and let him go shirtless). But despite having three other boys whose antics were very similar, I can't seem to help but marvel at the sheer insanity that is me trying to keep up with my youngest. But since we wrote down his older siblings' stories it would be remiss not to also chronicle his shenanigans: In a way, he's both easier and more difficult than Jamie was. Easier because I already survived one child who never sleeps and climbs everything, so I can sit this one out from the lofty towers of complacency. But it's harder because I don't have the time, energy or desire to train this last one or work as hard as I did with the first one. It really is true the youngest is more spoiled. I thought maybe it was just my jaded perspective as a firstborn, but unless everyone else is doing a much better job with their caboose child (don't answer that), I'm thinking this can safely move from theory to fact.  

When Jamie climbed out of his crib, Jim and I waited in the dark below his crib, rose up and went all Walking Dead whenever he attempted to climb out.  That didn't work so well with William because a) it kept his brothers awake more than it served as a compelling reason to stay in his crib  and b) like all strict parenting books tell you, you CAN train a child to be obedient, but while he did eventually learn to go to bed at bedtime, that didn't stop him from getting up in the middle of the night and raiding the pantry and fridge like a raccoon. c) no amount of training kept him from getting up for the day at 4:30/5:00 am.  

So we bought a sleep tent for the tidy sum of $100 (which I blogged about before) but was guaranteed to give exhausted parents a safe place to put their child during sleeping hours.  Within a week he broke the front panel out...just pushed his finger through the rip proof nylon until he got enough of an indentation to get a good grip, rip it open and emerge victorious in the baby game of Survivor.  We fixed that which earned us a whole month of sleep before he figured out how to wiggle the zipper down enough to make quick work of the rest (if he was smart, he would have figured that out first).  We used a carabiner after that to lock the zipper shut and that got us all the way to last night when Jim and I had just settled on the couch for a relaxing evening of Sherlock, bourbon and sewing projects when we heard a suspicious amount of bumping and activity going on in the back bedroom.  Jim went to go check and discovered our small son razing havoc like a small Tasmanian devil ping-ponging around the room.  

We assumed he'd just busted the carabiner lock (which had happened before), but no...he had ripped the entire tent off its base.  I assume, judging by the five star reviews, that this is not a common occurrence for other owners of this tent. And he seriously looks too small to do anything remotely that powerful, which is why I'm henceforth dubbing him my Samson toddler.  He may not talk very well, and he may not be super well behaved, but just to be on the safe side, I'm going to lock up the donkey jawbones.  

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It's a good thing children look so angelic when they're sleeping? 

Lentils, Insanity and Dinosaur Trains

I used to hate it when my parents sat us all down for a "family pow wow".  They were epic come to Jesus talks that usually ended with us all getting up early, doing more chores and sorting out whatever major attitude problems were shaping up into WWIII.  I loathed them so much, that early in our marriage when Jim casually mentioned "let's pow wow" I broke out into a cold sweat and treated the poor man like he'd just suggested a flogging post and torture rack.  

Now I have four kids, and although the word "pow wow" is still strictly forbidden, I realized I totally do the same thing.  Negotiating with a two year old is a slippery slope where you think peeling a banana a certain way or watching a show in the morning is not a big deal, and then before you know it you're standing on your head, holding your mouth a certain way and angling the banana so it correctly lines up with the earth's magnetic field as you peel it at 5 am while you watch the same dinosaur train episode.  ...and you don't even know how it got this bad.  

Multiply that by four, throw in the end of CC and state testing and it's no wonder people commonly burn out this time of year.  

So I sat all of the kids down and told them we were having a week reset of absolutely no fun (you have to set the standard super low so something like playing math bingo feels like you're getting away with murder). We're doing nothing but learning poetry, reading books, doing math and re-learning how to play nicely with our siblings. I cleaned up our food while I was at it, because I figured you might as well bum everyone out with one swift kick in the pants.  Our diet had slipped from pizza occasionally and cold cereal as an emergency backup to such a high level of consumption that they need to come up with a new scientific classification of consumers for us: Herbivores, Carnivores, Omnivores and the Junkavores. 

It had gotten so bad even Jamie was craving healthy food.  He's become so big and responsible this year (mostly) that he can babysit for short periods and go places independently. So when he kept bugging me and bugging me for lentil soup, I finally just handed him my card and told him if he wanted it that bad he was going to have to do it himself.  

...and I was surprised he called my bluff, but he did. He walked to the grocery store and asked someone where the leeks and lentils were located, used the self checkout and was home in ten minutes total. Jim and I teased him later that the only reason someone didn't get him into trouble was because they probably had never met a potentially troublesome sixth grader shopping for lentils and leeks.  Ahem.

 I wonder sometimes if other families have to go through the monumental, boot slogging task of feeling like they have to troubleshoot every.single.area of their kids' lives. Oftentimes it seems like my kids only struggle struggle struggle, and never succeed.  Everything needs extra work and effort, nothing comes easy.  We were back to forming ABC's today like we're in Kindergarten to fix a bunch of letter reversals that have been cropping up lately. William probably needs speech therapy too, but there is a limit to how many "therapies" one can juggle in a week, and his issues are mild (in comparison).  But see? It's a constant state of triage on who needs the most help.  Of course after three kids who needed speech therapy to even start talking, I feel like at this point I should just write my own.   "Speech Bootcamp For Stubborn Toddlers: The at home guide for parents who want to hear something other than 'EEEEEEEEGHH!' all day" 

But hey, two days in and everyone is doing a lot better (food wise, school wise, and behavior wise) so maybe my parents were on to something with their "pow wows".  And honestly there are worse things than sitting home all day eating watermelon and homemade beef jerky while you build epic train tracks and read Laddie aloud.  But in defense of electronics and Netflix...  Jamie said there wasn't one thing on his common core state test that wasn't in Wild Kratz and Magic Schoolbus. So there. 

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