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Get in...or I'm putting you in

The longer I parent, the more convinced I am that parenting is 99% being able to adapt and change plans...and 1% being able to hear the same question/music/toy/movie/book over and over again without going crazy.

Or at least that's what I'm telling myself in the wake of a "worst parents in the world" moment on Friday.

We'd planned to take our usual bike ride at the gardens in the afternoon but Cole was being especially adamant that he wanted to "go to the playground." Over. And over. And over. Fine. We're going to go on a nice, pleasant bike ride on Sunday morning anyway (ha, that's what you think!) so let's humor the kid. We were going to the gardens anyway, why not still go and he can play in the Children's Garden?

Wrong. We got there at about 4:45pm and headed to a favorite splash area. No sooner did we get our hands wet than a voice came on the loudspeaker informing us that the Children's Garden would be closing in 10 minutes. Ugh! Not a good situation considering how much whining had been involved to find the "playground" to begin.

How were we going to do this? Get our kids out of the area to another part of the grounds without a massive meltdown at the short play time? It took everything we could muster. Letting him pick the direction, trying to offer suggestions (treehouses! bugs! maze!). Eventually, we ended up on a very long, very pleasant walk around Meadow Lake. Stopping frequently along the way. Lots of birds everywhere and listening to their unique calls. We both felt horrible though. As parents, we've quickly learned to not make promises--even if we think we can keep them. Because nothing is more heartbreaking than having to break a promise. Never mention things ahead of time because whatever reason your grownup brain can understand for changing conditions is no match for a 3 year old who has been uniformly thinking about one task or activity. It gets ugly really quickly.

Saturday was quite pleasant after that. I took the road bike on a 26 mile ride, we hit the Farmer's Market, coffee, and grocery shopping, before 10am. There was much playing outside and getting dirty on the part of the kids. Although Cole has gotten very much into a mood lately of demanding things...the library, the zoo, the playground. You say no and explain and he just tries to wear you down via relentless repetition of the demand. Ask enough and the answer may change.

So Sunday morning we decided to not even mention what we were doing. Which may or may not have been a good idea. At this point, I think we feel mixed emotions about how much of our struggle is bad parenting versus how much of it is bad child. It's hard to tell in the fray whether your frustrations at these little people are justified.

Anyway, we got our bikes loaded and got to the gardens again ready for a bike ride and all Cole would do is cry and refuse to leave the car. No tempting him out this time. It was rough. 30 minutes of ruin. We did end up just putting him in the trailer, did one "big lap" of the grounds, then called it a morning. Nobody was in the mood for a pleasant jaunt after dealing with that. Cole was actually great for the ride. Quiet and uncomplaining. Leda was a doll the entire time from the moment we left the house until we got home. Which I tried to highlight since she's normally the problem child. Credit where it is due, she sat patiently strapped into the trailer while her brother moaned and whined and wailed about having to go. She can be quite cute when she wants to be.

Later in the evening, I ended up watching the kids for a couple hours while Kelly went to spin yarn in the late afternoon. And we had another "episode" where Cole refused to do anything but cry and pout until literally the only thing that would make him stop was making a puppet talking "monster" out of his Thomas & Friends pj shorts. He didn't find it funny so much as me having gone off the deep end.

This morning, I had every intention of taking him to the zoo since that had been a weekend-long request. But when I finally told him we were going he changed his mind to wanting a library trip instead. They played, they got books, they checked books out at the Self Checkout machine...they came home willingly without one word of negativity. There was no crying or demands of anything.

I don't understand the mind of a toddler. I mean overall. When they're upset, I usually get it. When they're happy, they're completely logical and often smart and funny. It's the back and forth mood swings that I find frustrating as a parent. Just when you think you can let down your guard, crazy comes rearing its ugly head and sometimes you just get tired of the routine. I think most of the frustration you see in toddler-parent relationships is that tiny 1% that we're not quite able to defend ourselves against. When your kid insists they can climb in the car and buckle All By Themselves for the 10th time and then wanders away in the parking lot for the 4th time, you get tired of the tricks and gimmicks and telling a perfectly intelligent person to get in the car and then can't understand why they don't see where all this is going. Either get in or I'm putting you in. The same thing happened yesterday. And the day before that. When when will you learn to just get in the car and sit in your seat when I open the car door? (They also know how soap works yet are unable to get any on their hands at the sink.)

It's enough to make one empathize with Miss Hannigan from Annie.