Childrearing

The Devil Wears Pull-Ups

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Despite having twin toddlers, I wasn’t very worried about the “terrible twos,” mainly because I didn’t think anything could be worse than infancy. My toddlers were sweet and well behaved, and I was naive enough to think they wouldn’t change. When fellow moms shared stories about their 2-year-old hell-spawns, I’d nod sympathetically while thinking, “Not gonna happen to me!” And of course, when you indulge in that kind of thinking, karma pays you back tenfold.

The terrible twos came in with a bang – my daughter Allie banging her mouth on our coffee table and knocking two teeth up into her gums. (I’ve yet to say that without wincing.) Our dentist said the teeth might come back down within a month or two, but she had to give up sippy cups and her beloved binky. The night of the tooth accident, the binky was taken away, and with it went my good little girl.

Nap time was the first casualty, changing from an essential time for me to get things done to a nightmarish experience even Supernanny wouldn’t tackle. Allie had always liked her naps, because her crib was the only place she was allowed to have her pacifier. Now without a binky, Allie would jump and yell and keep her twin brother awake. She also decided that she’d only wear diapers with Elmo on the front. One out of every five diapers in the package had Elmo on the front, so you can imagine how this demand was received.

Then one day, Allie took her Elmo diaper off and smeared the contents all over her crib. Some parents can deal with poop and some can’t, and I fall into the “can’t” group. I can change a diaper, but it ends there. I called my husband and he sweetly volunteered to clean the crib when he got home. That afternoon I bought a video monitor, so I could watch Allie while still trying to get things done. On the tiny monitor she looked like an angel, her blond hair a shiny platinum, except she was bouncing around shouting, “Poo-poo diaper! No poop. Poo-poo! No poop!” Are toddlers capable of mental torture? I know what my answer would be. [tagbox tag=”toddlers”]

Allie’s Reign of Terror continued with her clothes. Every day she insisted on wearing what she called her “Puppa Dwess” — a garishly embroidered purple peasant dress my brother had bought her in Mexico. Any attempt to clothe her in something else was met with a full-on tantrum. I had read about these kids who insist on dressing themselves, and I’d always thought their parents must be weak-willed, inadequate disciplinarians. But now I had learned the truth: there is no keeping clothing on a toddler who wants it off.

Those were bleak times for me. I was not in control of the situation and I knew it. There were times when I was reduced to tears, and times when I’d scream in frustration. Getting Allie out of the house didn’t help, either, because it was difficult to get her to do something she didn’t want to. If she didn’t want to leave, she’d do the dreaded “wet noodle” move and slip out of my arms, or the “stiff as a board” move so I couldn’t get her into the stroller or car. Not to mention I had another 2-year-old in tow who was sleep-deprived because his twin sister had destroyed nap time. These were terrible times indeed.

I knew I needed to make a change, so I pulled out the big guns: potty training. I figured I could get rid of diapers, while giving Allie something to control. (Okay, so I cribbed this idea from a baby-rearing book — I never said I was an expert.) Potty training was definitely a step in the right direction, as she liked her tiny throne and approved of the princess design on her Pull-Ups. But Allie continued to sabotage naptime by refusing to sleep and by dirtying as many Pull-Ups as possible, often three in one naptime. I truly believe that she willfully held in poo so that I would have to change her three times within an hour. Was I paranoid? I’m not going to argue.

I would love to say that Allie’s terrible-twoness disappeared as rapidly as it appeared, but it was more like a gradual exorcism. After a few months of potty training, naptime Pull-Up-dirtying became a thing of the past. Allie learned that finger paints are fun to play with and poop, not so much. Her two teeth did come back down straight and white (hooray!). And she agreed to have “quiet time” in her crib during nap time (double hooray!).

And the Puppa Dwess — Allie wore it every day from June until October. When the weather became so cold that I insisted she wear a sweatshirt, she actually asked me to take it off, and agreed to wear a new long-sleeve lavender dress. She wanted to sleep with the old one, which was fine by me. By then, it was merely a reminder of the time me and my little blond angel went to hell and back.

(Photo: BananaStock)