Now seemed like a good time to introduce my almost-4-year-old to some of my and my husband’s favorite sports to play–soccer and tennis. We aren’t very good at either, but it’s fun enough to get outside and kick around or hit some balls (making complete idiots of our nonathletic selves). With all the sunshine and mild weather we’ve been fortunate to have the past few days (shhh, don’t jinx it), we decided to make an effort to get outside as much as possible this week. We decided to teach Jax how to play soccer and how to hit a tennis ball.

The other day, we grabbed a kid-sized soccer ball and spent an hour at our favorite park. After about 5 minutes, Jax was more interested in the pile of mulch towering over our heads a few feet away from the field. He made it his mission to find the perfect wood chip, despite our efforts to make soccer seem interesting and fun.

soccer attemptWhen we’re in our backyard, he’s a mini-soccer fan, seemingly drawn to goalkeeping in particular. However, when we place him in a new environment, he’s distracted and more interested in exploring than in playing soccer. In a way, his distraction and desire to explore is really cute. His daycare teachers call him “Nature Boy.”

With soccer crossed off the list, last night we ran to Dick’s to pick up a kid-sized tennis racquet and some balls. As soon as we walked in the door, Jax ran over to the teeball bats and excitedly picked one up. Within 30 seconds, the kid was outfitted in a helmet and glove as well! This drew laughter from several customers and employees–he was seriously adorable, and I wish I’d taken a photo! Maybe baseball will be his sport (if he plays anything)! We told him we’ll let him try teeball when the time comes.

We eventually left Dick’s with our gear and hit the park near our house, where there are tennis courts that are usually unoccupied. The husband explained to Jax how to hold a racquet correctly and I tried to teach him when to swing it to actually make contact. And he did–once!

Five minutes later, what do you think Jax was doing? Sitting on the edge of the court, playing with sticks and grass. He’d said, “I’s done” and walked off with his cute little yellow racquet.

tennis attemptMaybe he’s just not ready for sports yet. Or maybe he’ll take after his parents and be artistic instead of athletic. Time will tell.

Do your kids play sports? When did you introduce sports? Which did you play with them?

 

With my husband out of the country for 4 days, I approached the idea of Mother’s Day alone with Jax with mostly excitement about having a lot of time together but also with a little bit of worry about my day potentially going awry due to some toddler tantrum or another. So I kind of split up my Mother’s Day into chunks of time all weekend, beginning on Friday. To kick off Mother’s Day weekend, I left work 2 hours early to give myself a bit of downtime and self-care.

My version of self-care includes wine, journaling, and delicious food (guacamole and black bean chips this time).

My version of self-care includes wine, journaling, and delicious food (guacamole and black bean chips this time).

Saturday, it rained in the morning, so we hung around the house a lot. Eventually, we made it to Target for crafting supplies and snacks, and then we came home and drew, glittered, and stickered handmade Mother’s Day cards for both grandmoms. We ate Oreos.

Glitter + Oreos? Sounds pretty fantastic, right?

Jax selected Disney princess stickers for his grandmoms because "they look like princesses."

Jax selected Disney princess stickers for his grandmoms because “they look like princesses.”

The rest of Saturday, we alternated laying around the house with some outside play. Around 3:30, he finally napped (boy did he need it!) on my lap. I enjoyed the snuggles while I watched something other than Disney Jr on the tv.

It was adorable. I wish he'd nap more often! I got to watch 2 episodes of Arrested Development!

It was adorable. I wish he’d nap more often! I got to watch 2 episodes of Arrested Development!

Jax fell asleep pretty easily Saturday night, and we both slept very well. I believe that’s why Sunday was so fanastic.

Fantastic may not even accurately cover how perfect my day was. I woke up an hour before Jax and sipped my coffee slowly while it was still hot. I caught up on social media and watched a bit of Mad Men (I am SO behind). When he woke up, we went to breakfast with my parents, who treated.

After that, we hung around the house for a few hours. We ended up in sweats, both of us, and cleaning the living room (what kind of a Mother’s Day is this?!). It was actually pretty fun, because in my twisted head, few things make me happier than a clean house. I had planned to take him on a long walk at a park with a long track, and then let him loose on the playground after I got a few miles in, but after we cleaned, he’d started to play by himself, quietly and contentedly, so I opted to not rock the boat. I stayed in my sweats, parked my butt on the floor, and read a magazine and listened to music instead.

My cleaning buddy

My cleaning buddy

Eventually, we got our walk in. First, I hit the Dunkin Donuts drive through for my new favorite drink: the mint chocolate chip iced coffee (milk, no sugar–in case you want to surprise me sometime!). That baby came on our walk with us. We walked for about 30 minutes and then played on the playground for another 30 before returning home. A friend came over, bringing 3 bottles of wine over as a gift for me (so nice!!), and had a glass of wine with me while Jax played on the floor nearby.

These bouncy things are so much fun! But they're very ugly.

These bouncy things are so much fun! But they’re very ugly.

Ok, so maybe I rode one of the bouncy things, too.

Ok, so maybe I rode one of the bouncy things, too.

Jax bestowed me freely with plenty of kisses and hugs all day. He was affectionate, calm, well-rested, and tantrum free all the way until bedtime. At one point, he even curled up on the couch while we listened to music and he rested without a word. This lasted so long I had to check to make sure he hadn’t gotten into the medicine cabinet! I’ve never seen him so calm, quiet, and still (while staying awake) for so long! When I’d look over to see if he’d fallen asleep, he’d flash me a huge grin.

I can count on one finger the number of times he's done this! Ha!

I can count on one finger the number of times he’s done this! Ha!

Around dinnertime, we made a frozen pizza (his favorite thing to do is pick off and eat some of the frozen cheese) because I didn’t feel like cooking. Then a different friend came over, and we had a glass of wine and played in the yard for 2 hours.

Bath at 8, bedtime at 8:30. After some snuggling with me and his newly discovered stuffed elephant (which I bought when I first found out I was pregnant with him), he was asleep by 9.

Mother’s Day was the kind of day my soul craved and exactly what I needed after two challenging days full of toddler tantrums. I am so grateful for having had such a peaceful, relaxing day with Jax. It was my best Mother’s Day yet.

 

I’m SO thankful for parents who speak openly about their struggles as parents, in particular as parents of children ages 3 to 4. I wish more of us would share our horror stores of toddler parenting, so that fewer of us would feel like parental failures!

You cannot convince me there is any harder, more challenging age than this. At least, I hope you won’t even try, because I can’t bear to hear there is a harder age unless you first tell me there’s a decade of sheer bliss before it!

Age 3 has been…interesting. I read recently that between the ages of 3 and 4, a child’s vocabulary explodes from 500 words to 1200 words. That’s more than double, meaning they have a whole new vocabulary for expressing all the ways in which they’re displeased! You’d think this would mean the end of the tantrums that peak between ages 2 and 3, right?

Notsomuch. At least not for us.

The other day, Jax tantrummed because I wouldn’t let him bring a dead (crispy) worm into the house to keep as his pet. The next night, he tantrummed because I didn’t eat the ginger that came with my sushi.

Reading back on those sentences, I laugh a little at how absurd these scenarios sound. But if you have a toddler, you’re probably shaking your head and saying, “Yup, sounds about right.”

Living with a toddler is like living with an adorable but psychotic dictator. You just never know when the most trivial thing will set him off and what punishment they’ll dole out when they’re unhappy. You pray it will be quick and painless. It rarely is.

One minute, they’re playing happily on the swingset in the backyard, and then suddenly they’re charging you with their fists ready to flail, and you have no idea why. And then just as suddenly and dramatically as it began, it’s over.

Post-tantrum make-up session

Post-tantrum make-up session

That’s what some days are like. Other days are perfect—although I suspect my standard of “perfect” has dramatically decreased to mean any day that doesn’t end with me in tears, hiding in the bathroom, clutching my wine glass tightly while praying for an easy bedtime.

Like you, I adore my child beyond words. I can’t spend enough time with him! I think of him constantly when we aren’t together. Parenthood has been the wildest, most awesome ride of my entire life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and don’t regret my choice to become a parent for even a second. And I enjoy more moments than I don’t.

But that doesn’t make it any less challenging and crazy.  And when, during those moments, I vent to my friends about my lunatic child or I pour myself a second glass of wine, that doesn’t make me any less awesome a mother. It makes me normal.

Jax and I have had a rough time lately, with near-daily tantrums (his, then admittedly a few of my own as a result) and a whole lot of headbutts to the face–my face. Tonight was classic: The three of us were enjoying dinner outside in our yard, complete with a cool breeze, music, and wine. It was pretty darn good. I even let myself feel–gasp–happy for a little while. And then out of nowhere, I was headbutted to the face.

I swear I saw stars. I think I even may have knocked Jax off my lap and into the grass as I jumped up grasping my nose, which I thought had been broken. I don’t know why I did what I did next, but I grabbed for my wine glass on my sprint back inside my house–but I missed, given that one hand was covering my nose and part of my eye, and I knocked it to the ground. I kept running because I was crying and my neighbor’s windows were wide open. I imagined what they must have thought happened, with the sudden sobbing and  smashing of a glass.

I don’t know how Jax reacted to the scene, as I was crying inside my locked bathroom for the next 5 minutes or so, with an ice pack on the bridge of my nose. It wasn’t pretty–my nose or my hysterics. I told myself I’m not raising a good boy, because good boys wouldn’t intentionally headbutt their moms on a regular basis. I told myself I’m a failure. That I deserve pain.

See? Not pretty, right?

Life with a toddler is hard, yo. Age three has been…oh, I don’t know, can something be both crazy-fun and excruciating at the same time? They’re irrational little people, and they don’t know their own strength. They’re unwieldy and fiesty, and there is no predicting what they’re going to do next.

And I’m really struggling with all of this, if I’m being honest here. Jax is usually a happy kid, and he’s kind and sensitive to others. But lately, with me, he is rough and sometimes downright mean. I’m not sure what to make of it or how to correct and stop it. I’m tired of being hurt. What’s worse is seeing him laugh when he does it. I’m tired of questioning my parenting capability and all the choices I’ve made so far. I’m tired of googling and asking for advice. I just want it to stop before I end up with a black eye or worse.

I want my little snugglebutt back.

The upside to this is when he finally does come around and he says he’s sorry and kisses me and tells me I’m his Princess again, and all is forgiven. Eventually, he came inside and said he was sorry. We made up, and then he passed out on the couch at 7:45.

And here I sit at the computer, wondering what to do with myself because I haven’t had a sleeping child at 8:00 at night in a very long time. It’s almost worth the throbbing nose!

Got any advice for me? Be gentle; I’m out of ice packs.

Jax, enthralled by the Disney Jr show at Hollywood Studios

Jax, enthralled by the Disney Jr show at Hollywood Studios

This time last week, I was at Disneyworld’s Hollywood Studios with my parents, my siblings, Jax, and my husband. The sun was shining and warming up my cold, pale New Jersey skin–but not really tanning it, thanks to my overvigilant sunscreen applications. Oops.

Now I’m at work, eating a frozen entree from a plastic container, trying to pretend it isn’t snowing/sleeting outside and that the pile of work on my desk doesn’t need my urgent attention.

I think I’ll dwell in last week’s world for a bit longer, thankyouverymuch. Pass the vitamin D, wouldja?

I was nervous about a few things before heading to Disneyworld, particularly with a toddler. Jax has never flown before this trip, and although he loves all kinds of transportation in theory, I was worried he’d be that child on the plane who screams for 2.5 hours and I’d be the mom endlessly apologizing to those seated nearby. But he was great, if not slightly bored at times. In hindsight, I’d have packed better for the flight. I tried to help him pass the time with my iPad–showing him various toddler-friendly games he loves to play, movies, and tv shows–but I stupidly forgot to bring headphones that fit his little ears. My earbuds weren’t cutting it.

I also worried that I’d forget to pack something crucial to my son’s well-being. You know, a certain toy or a favorite pair of jammies–the kinds of things that if forgotten can induce a stage 5 meltdown even at The Happiest Place on Earth. On the drive to the airport, I realized what I’d forgotten to pack: his Pillow Pet. It turned out that he didn’t ask for it at all, probably too tired at the end of our long days in the parks to even notice it wasn’t on the bed. He asked for his footie Spider-Man jammies one night, but I explained that I didn’t pack them because it’s too warm in Florida for footie jammies, and thankfully he agreed! He did make me buy him Spider-Man slippers, though.

I worried about his aversion to using public restrooms. I’ve been privvy to many a tantrum in public when it came time to check potty. My mom had read a blog post (I wish I knew which one so I could credit it here) about a toddler in Disneyworld whose genius mother used stickers and Pixie dust to help her child use the public restroom. She applied a sticker to the sensor of the automatic-flushing toilet and then sprinkled glitter (Pixie dust) over the bowl to keep it from flushing on her toddler. We did purchase plenty of stickers and glitter before heading to our vacation, but we used only the stickers because, in all honesty, I simply didn’t feel like cleaning up spilled glitter all week.

The stickers did the trick. They were the smartest thing I did all week–and possibly EVER! I’m certain they prevented a handful of epic meltdowns daily. I urge anyone with a toddler who doesn’t love using a public restroom to stock up on stickers. They’ll be a permanent fixture in my purse from now on, believe me. And yes, in case you’re wondering, I did peel off each and every sticker after we were done using them.

So those were my primary worries about heading to Disneyworld with Jax, who is 3.5 years old now. He was a rockstar, though. So I guess in typical momma fashion, I did a lot of worrying for no good reason. This kid always surprises me (for the best).

Got any travel advice for toddler parents? Please share it here!