We called him Lucas Sawyer, but his real name is Chaos

by DaniGirl on August 11, 2009 · 13 comments

in Lucas, Toddler time

The word chaos keeps creeping into my life lately.

A friend recently asked me if the jump from two kids to three was really that much of a change. After I finished snickering, I replied, “You know how with two kids, life can have these intensely chaotic peaks, with streches of peace and calm in the middle? Yeah. Three is just all chaos, all the time. No peaceful stretches. Just. Chaos.”

And then my dad has taken up a new pet phrase. He says, “I don’t do chaos.” Interestingly, he seems to have adopted this pet phrase after spending a good portion of his summer with a house full of grandchildren. Coincidence?

Life with three kids is busy, true, but the chaos comes almost exclusively thanks to Lucas, my just-turned-18-months-old perpertual chaos machine.

I love the toddler phase, I really do. No parenting phase is so peppered with daily hourly delight, with instant gratification, with a deep and overwhelming exasperation. My jaw drops open in wonder regularly, and I am in awe of his capacity for learning, for comprehension, for love, for anger, for curiousity, for stubbornness. He is a living ball of excesses, and leaves in his wake a path of chaos and destruction that has very nearly broken our parenting spirit.

83:365 Mischief in the pantry

My boy finds mischief the way hogs find truffles — he’s biologically drawn to it. He has a radar that senses unlatched gates and cupboards, and a magnetic attraction to everything that’s inappropriate for a toddler to have. The latter includes choking hazards like Lego and peanuts and grommets, inedible consumables like shampoo and Wii remotes, and garden-variety trouble like pets’ water bowls, potting soil and permanent markers…. and that only covers the michief he found before breakfast the other day.

Sigh.

I imagine he keeps a daily tally sheet in his head. “Okay, so far today I’m up seven exasperating actions to five adorable ones. I better step up the cuteness, or they’re going to leave me at the curb with the trash. Hmmm, what have I got in the arsenal for today? Oh, I know, I’ll run up and throw my arms around her knees while yelling a gleeful ‘Mummmmeeeeeeeee!’ That’ll buy me at least three more transgressions before dinner.”

Living with a toddler is all about extremes. Or maybe it’s just this toddler. I’m so tired and wired and sheerly wiped out that I can’t remember last Tuesday, let alone going through this twice before. Or maybe the toddler phase is like childbirth: we’re biologically and psychologically hardwired to forget the trauma almost as soon as it passes, to ensure the continuing perpetuation of the species?

I can handle the relentless mischief, and I can handle the constant repetition. (“Lucas, no. Ah ah ah. Mommy said no. Lucas, NO. Lucas! I! Said! NOOOOO!” Lather rinse and repeat about 16 times every hour.) I can handle the tantrums, both his and mine. I can handle the need to anticipate, to intervene, to redirect, to substitute, to divert, and to mollify on a near-constant basis. I can even handle his new favourite game, “Let’s drop stuff like cheerios and Bob the Builder and things I found between the couch cushions into Mommy’s coffee and see if she notices!”

(Although that last one takes a Herculean amount of adorable-ness to counteract, I must admit. Lucky for him, he’s up to the task.)

What I can’t handle? The screech. He’s entered that whining, screeching phase that makes me want to stick knitting needles in my ears. He screeches when he’s vexed. He screeches when he wants something. He screeches because it’s been forty or even fifty seconds since the last time he screeched.

I can handle the chaos. Truth be told, there’s a twisted part of me that might actually like the chaos. The screeching? May well be the thing that finally separates me from my tenous hold on my sanity.

It’s just a phase, right?


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 liz August 11, 2009 at 7:57 am

It’s just a phase.

2 Sharon August 11, 2009 at 9:28 am

It’s just a long phase…Remember the Splitter incident of last fall? One would thing he would learn at 8yrs to keep his fingers out of places they are not supposed to be…NOPE.

3 Annika August 11, 2009 at 9:42 am

I would love to see a full-length piece from you on the whole “going from two kids to three kids” theme. We have a three-year-old and a one-year-old…and are trying to figure out whether or not to add another child to the mix. Most parents of three tell us that it’s not that big a difference after you’ve already had two…but I suspect there’s more to it. Obviously, from your descriptions, more love and happiness and joy as well. We do not have any family (i.e. no grandparents) in this part of the country, and that is our main reason for saying two will likely be enough. Yet, we can’t bring ourselves to say or believe that we’re done. =)

4 julie August 11, 2009 at 10:27 am

Ah … now those are them words I love — they’ve come back to you! Great post. (And I really, really hope it’s a phase too. We’re deep in it.)

5 Jenny F. Scientist August 11, 2009 at 11:31 am

My youngest sister screeched. It was extraordinarily painful, and I hope Lucas does grow out of it soon. (In my childhood memories, we just ignored her until she stopped. I think earplugs may have been involved…. or maybe time has faded the pain away!)

6 snackmommy August 11, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Great post Dani. Warm and fluid :~)

7 Amber August 11, 2009 at 12:53 pm

I have a little boy about 6 months behind Lucas. He’ll be 1 on Thursday. He refuses to walk, but he climbs. On tables, step-stools, jars, toys, anything. He likes to throw things and screech. When he’s crawling towards something he’s not supposed to have and I come after him he crawls FASTER.

I feel your pain. It’s a good thing they’re adorable, is all I can say. A really good thing.

8 meanie August 11, 2009 at 1:27 pm

“He is a living ball of excesses”.
sums up toddlerhood beautifully.

9 colleen August 11, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Just a phase that seems to never end………….but it does.

10 Nat August 11, 2009 at 5:37 pm

I have no idea how anyone does it with two let alone with three or more to you get my total respect.

As my dear friend jewels says, “I love spirit children when they are someone elses.” Hope he becomes more agreeable and less chaotic before he moves out.

11 Jen August 11, 2009 at 9:12 pm

Awesome post – brought me right back to all things toddler! 🙂

12 Julie August 12, 2009 at 6:20 am

Great post! You describe my almost 18 month old to a T.

13 Judy August 12, 2009 at 10:18 pm

I kinda of fear what the next 6 months may bring me! Ours is only 11 months and screechs in delight everytime he saws a dog, a picture of dog, a dog toy, if you said the word dog…

You described it all so well!

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