So Much Trouble In Such A Cute Package

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I guess I got spoiled. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this, but often, parents of kids with special needs say that their special needs kid is the easiest one to parent. Well, each child of mine presents unique challenges to my parenting prowess, but I have to say that until now, I’ve never actually experienced the age of Two.

Let me be clear: when this kid is cute, he is cute. I’ve experienced unbearable levels of cuteness from his big sibs, but this one takes the pursuit of adorability to a whole new level. And he’s smart. Uncannily smart. My little late talker bypassed most of the normal first attempts at speech. His clearest word? “Meeeee!” (Pointing to himself.) As in: It’s time for dinner. “Meeeee!” Okay, let’s go outside. “Meeee!” He walks around the house labeling items by the name of their owner. “A-a,” he says to Alex’s coat. “Ma-ma,” pointing to Mommy’s shoes. And yesterday, he pointed to the crunchy peanut butter, which only one person in the house likes: “Da-da!” I mean, nothing gets by this kid.

However.

For Nicholas, the age of two is less about tantrums than it is about whining. He whines whenever he doesn’t get his way—which (considering that left to his own devices, he would do nothing but watch TV and eat all day long) you can imagine happens quite often. When I try to redirect or correct him, he sulks. Example: he pulls the videos off the shelf. I say, “No, you already watched a video.” He throws the video on the floor, watching me for a reaction. “Nicholas!” I say. “Pick that up and put it back on the shelf.” He turns and runs away, gambling that I’ll be too preoccupied to come after him. Which, until recently, has been a good gamble. But lately I’ve realized that I can’t delay the lessons of discipline anymore. So I go after him, bring him back, try to hand-over-hand him into compliance. He picks up his feet and hangs from my hands, shrieks, whines, and occasionally screams.

Then there is dinner time. He will not eat vegetables once he has something he likes more. He’s the same way about most of our main dishes. He’s generally cooperative if I pick up the spoon and put the food in his mouth for him, but he will not feed it to himself. Again, until recently, I’ve accepted that as the cost of having young children.  But now that we’re trying to add to the family, I realize that I can’t keep treating him like a baby. He’s on the cusp of two, and for the sake of parental sanity, he’s got to be nudged onward.

And of course, he absolutely refuses to do anything outside of a five-inch radius from Mommy’s side. I try to include him in cooking, dishes, laundry, etc., but this is a real problem when I’m trying to work on the computer. Which I have to do, because I am a work-at-home mom, and nap time doesn’t cut it.

I thought that if I made time every morning to focus on him one-on-one—to play, or cook, or take a walk—he would then be more willing to play independently at other times. No such luck. The kid will not go downstairs and play with the toys. He spends most of the time crawling up onto my lap and wiggling around, forcing me to use my arms to hold him back from deathly plunges while simultaneously trying to type; clicking my mouse, yanking the mouse pad out from under it; and pulling on my arm while whining. A lot. And I’m about at my wits’ end.

I want to be there for my child when he needs me, but he’s so needy! And I really think it’s because he’s bored when his siblings aren’t around. So today, I’m throwing open the comments, asking for ideas on how to achieve the needed balance between my time and his behavior. I know he’s only young for a short time, but that will be true till the day our chaotic house becomes an empty nest. Life can’t stop for the next 16 years. I need suggestions on how to cure the whining!

9 thoughts on “So Much Trouble In Such A Cute Package

  1. Janelle

    Kate, I think that your 2-yr old and my 2-yr old might be the same person in different bodies. I read your posts on N. with amusement, and with relief, because it reminds me that I am not the only one dealing with these things. My 5th child: CAN’T play by himself, HAS to be right beside me all day, WON’T eat anything healthy if he even thinks there is something else, etc, etc, etc. Maybe they should play–they’d give each other a run for their money!

  2. How about putting aside ‘work’ during the day tomorrow and giving him your undivided attention? Read, play, go outside…. whatever he wants to do (within reason of course)…. of course some things must be done (laundry – have him help, cooking meals – have him nearby maybe in a high chair or booster seat)….
    I’m not saying he shouldn’t learn to play on his own but maybe he just has a need to be with you more.. children are all so different…. and a day of all you will fill that need.

  3. Hate to tell you this, but he sounds a lot like my (now-5-year-old) Helen and she is still rather needy. But she did start to play a bit more independently at age 3…

    As far as eating…we’re still struggling with that one, too with both Helen and our youngest…a 2-year-old. I think finicky is the name of the game when it comes to most 2-year-olds and food. good luck!

  4. KATIE LIGHT

    My daughter used to be really clingy, but I have learned about her “love Language”, and she is not nearly as clingy. The book is called “the five love languages of children”. I found it very helpful and full of great ideas-i bought it at my local Christian/Catholic store, or you might try the library. Otherwise, love him and wait with patience for him to grow out of the stage 🙂

  5. Thanks for the suggestion, Katie! I’ve read the adult version of “Love Languages”, but didn’t even realize there was one for children. 🙂

    I’m dealing with a similar situation in Jacob, who turns two next month. He usually enjoys the company of his 3-year-old sister – they’re thick as thieves and generally up to mischief.

    Lately, though, he hasn’t been in the mood to play with her, or else she’s ignoring him, taking her nap, etc…

    He becomes fused to my body, and it makes daily functions much more difficult. As you say, trying to cook a meal on the stove or grab something from the oven, while he’s clinging to my leg (and demanding to be held).

    Oftentimes it’s cute when he cuddles up with me, especially when he’s sleepy and wants to drift off in my arms… and I’m torn between encouraging his loving behaviour, and not wanting to feel shackled to him.
    It’s as if he never detached from my womb, he just continues to grow on the outside. 😛

    So, yes, I completely “get” why you’re frustrated. Hopefully in another year or two….

  6. Thanks for all the ideas. Continuing to problem solve. Last night at dinner, N. got so upset b/c we weren’t serving his food RIGHT NOW that he had to go in his crib upstairs for a couple of minutes. Two nights in a row; he asks for it, almost as if he needs the break to calm down. He didn’t cry, nobody yelled…but the whining stopped! 🙂

    • Yes, we’re at the “indecisive stage” with our toddlers.
      We allow them to choose between a couple different meal options, but they change their minds a dozen times… and then break down whining and screaming when I choose for them.

      Or they want a different dessert….

      Or they beg a bubble bath, but after the water starts running, they suddenly don’t want one… and scream like poor tortured souls because it’s too late.

      *sigh*

  7. Cecelia

    Mom always said she had the same problem with me (#4 as you will recall 😉 ) and ultimately I guess I turned out pretty independent so I suppose at least you can feel good in the long term …I wonder what she did with me though? 😀

    • I know the answer to that one. She said she let you hang as close as you wanted. Although I seem to remember that you wanted to play on the floor at her feet, not be attached to her and squirming unhappily while she was busy doing other things. ;lkj;lkj;lkj;lkj

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