Posted by: Hannah | 12/05/2012

Louis unhinged

With Luna only seven days from leaving us (but who’s counting), Louis has decided to apply for the upcoming vacancy of Most Challenging Dayhome Child. I’m not sure why. There is no reward to behaving badly. And yet.

He is still showing zero interest in toilet training, which I wouldn’t really care about, frankly, if his diapers weren’t numerous and violently, horribly toxic. Yesterday I changed six – SIX – poopy diapers. And somehow during the getting-everyone-out-the-door rush, he managed to sneak another one in just as his dad was arriving.

I apologized but sent him home like that. I just could not change one more vile diaper yesterday. I was full up on my vile diaper quotient. Besides, he’s arrived here befouled more than once. I figure it’s only fair.

His standard answer to everything these days is “noooooooo!!!” in the whining, up-note tone that makes any normal, rational person annoyed. He’s also been exercising passive resistance to a level that would make Ghandi proud. Just how do you handle it when the 2 year old sticks their lip out, plants their feet, and flat-out refuses to comply?

Well, if you’re me, you ignore it. Completely. Same with his mother, who has dropped him off in his sock feet before because he refuses to put on his boots, or hungry because he refused to eat breakfast in a timely manner.

Today: his scheduled drop-off time is 7:45. Which is a bad joke, honestly. He never gets here before 8AM. Lately, he’s been arriving at 8:30 or later, and today was no exception.

He arrived with a sour expression at 8:35, dragging his feet as he walked up the driveway, taking his sweet time because oh, is this making daddy mad? Is daddy in a hurry? He is? Isn’t it fun to scrape your toes slooooowly along the ground when you walk? My stars, yes. (His mom tells me that during the morning get-ready routine, dad checks his watch every five minutes and frets “we are going to be late. AGAIN. Hurry UP, ย Louis!”)

Got him in the door. “OK,” I said cheerfully, “you know the drill, buddy! Boots off, hat off, coat off, hang them up and come downstairs to play!”

Silence. Lip protruding. Kicks foot.

“Alright,” I said, “you know what to do. When you’re ready, you get your things off and come down”.

And that’s where he sat. For THIRTY-FIVE MINUTES.

Yes, in his winter hat, coat, and boots. Yes, without an adult hovering over him. No, I did not cajole, coax, or remind. He was fine where he was, safely bored sitting on the entry stairs without even a dinky car to relieve the tedium. I did take his lunch bag away when it seemed clear that it was becoming a merry distraction, but I did it without saying a word or even making eye contact.

Finally, I heard him start flopping around and kicking the floor. A lot of dealing with toddler stubbornness is knowing the right moment, and this morning I was luckily able to pounce when it happened. I went back upstairs.

Me: “Hey, buddy. Getting kind of hot in all those clothes, I’ll bet.”

Louis: “Yeah.”

Me: “Kind of boring up here, isn’t it?”

Louis: “Yeah.”

Me: “You can come downstairs whenever you like. Just take off your outdoor gear first, OK?”

He popped up, took everything off, hung up his coat, and accompanied me downstairs.

Now, I realize that parents on their way to work do not have the luxury of out-waiting a toddler for thirty-five minutes. But at that stage, they have two options: either take the child in whatever clothes they happen to be wearing and be prepared for frowny-faces from some people, or dress their little noodly bodies themselves and close their ears to the screaming.

I’ve done both, with my own kids, depending on the situation and my patience level. I have never hovered over a 2.5 year old trying to make them care that I’ll be late for work, though. They are GLAD that you’ll be late for work. Being late for work means more time with daddy! Even if daddy is mad! Mad daddy is entertaining. Look at his eyebrows! Listen to the frustrated sounds he’s making! THIS IS SO FUN.

And so, since last week, Louis has arrived in a foul mood, dropped off by a dad who is also in a foul mood, and it takes a good solid 90 minutes for him to even crack a smile. And even at that, he’s out of sorts all day, and is very resistant to the usual routine. He also asks for things when he knows he can’t have them, just for the sheer joy of whinging at me when he gets the ‘no’ answer he’s expecting.

It’s been tough. I’ve been trying to do a small Christmas activity each day – even something as simple as getting them to decorate paper stockings – but Louis never wants to participate until it’s a time when he can’t (right before nap, or just as we’re sitting down at the table for lunch, for example).

I’m very much looking forward to the Christmas break. I’m hoping that some uninterrupted time home with his family might help reset his clock.



  1. So yesterday I gave away my eight volumes of Mighty Machines and I was all full of nostalgia and sadness and I SHOULD HAVE ENJOYED THOSE AMAZING TODDLER YEARS MORE and now I realize, huh. Yeah. It’s way better now.

    • Any time you are feeling sad about not having little ones anymore, you call me during business hours. I’ll just put you on speakerphone until you’re feeling better. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I came over from Daycare Daze and I love your blog. I find myself nodding along to a lot of this, though I normally do the childcare thing one on one! Anyway, I hope Louis gets a little easier for you. It’s so tough when they just continually drag like that ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    • Welcome, and thank you so much! Louis did do better as the day went on – I think he realized his usual tricks weren’t going to work on me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Ah…poor kiddo…poor dad…poor you! I know what it feels like when you sympathize with what’s going on, but it’s still driving you a bit bonkers. Yes, hopefully the tot will have some time over the break to settle down a bit. However, 3-4yo was always the toughest with my kids. Well…and now 13yo. I sometimes feel like I’m with a stubborn toddler again, except one with a better vocabulary. ๐Ÿ˜‰ You’re a good person for being so patient.

    • Well, I try. And yes, in my experience three & four were pretty flipping awful, too, but at least at that age you *know* they are comprehending what you’re saying – when they’re two, I’m never 100% sure. And for the record, Louis was MUCH better today.

  4. Between you and MaryP, and a couple of other parenting-related blogs, plus my own experience as an au pair/nanny and babysitter, I feel like I’ll be going into this mothering malarky with my eyes wide open. With terror. But at least open.

    • This made me giggle. Although you will at least not be surprised by much. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. The other day Owl was being a pill and refusing to put his pants on. I threatened to go walk the dog without him. He objected to that idea but still wouldn’t put his gorram pants on. So I walked the dog without him. Left him alone, pantless, wailing at the screen door. My neighbors probably thought I was a terrible mother but I mean what I say, dammit.

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