This is Daniel’s new catchphrase: “I do it myself!” What does he do himself, you may ask? Anything he thinks he might be able to do. This independence has its advantages. The first time he climbed in and out of the car himself, I could have popped champagne, knowing I wouldn’t have to heft a 35-pound toddler in and out of a car seat anymore. The downside: everything takes about 5x as long when he does it himself.
|Two photos Daniel took him-self|
I knew enough to unbuckle the car seat and let Daniel climb out of the car himself. Then I closed the car door behind him, prompting a flood of tears and wailing. “Daniel want to close the door!” “I do it myse-e-e-e-e-lf.” I took a deep breath, exhaled slowly. I tried to open the car door so he could close it himself, but Carl had already locked the car, and walked away with the keys. I told Daniel when we came back to the car, after going in the rest stop, he could open the car door himself. Thankfully, this mollified him.
We walked across the parking lot. There were two doors to enter the rest stop, both of which, he insisted on opening—you got it—himself. It took both hands and all his strength, but he did it. Finally inside the family bathroom, I changed his diaper, then sat on the toilet. When he started to pull on the door handle, I asked him to please not open the door while Mommy was sitting on the potty. Thank God he listened, because the door opened directly into the dining area. Unfortunately, he had unlocked the door in his effort to open it, so not one, but two people opened the door, treating the diners to the lovely tableau of exhausted mom on toilet. I was too tired to care. Daniel opened all the doors himself – the bathroom, both rest area doors, the car door, and climbed back into the seat himself. Total time for mom and toddler to use the bathroom: 20 minutes.
When I’m in a good place – rested, fed, in a reasonably good mood, I don’t really mind all the waiting. Yes, it requires patience, but it’s kind of nice to slow down. If, however, I’m tired or hungry, the situation can quickly spiral into a tantrum – from both of us. I feel frustrated with him, he gets angry, and therefore slower and more stubborn, I react to his overreaction, etc.
I can’t always control my mood, but if I do the bare minimum of self-care: meals, rest, exercise, meditation, I have a much higher toddler-tolerance. I like that my little guy is independent, and I want to encourage this. When I take care of myself, I like to watch him do it himself, whatever it may be.