Monday, October 7, 2013

It's not easy being Timmy

I love my weekly bible study group.  They are an amazing group of women, and during our Monday mornings together, I am encouraged, I laugh a lot, and I gain a lot of insight.  There are currently nine members, and of them have at least one child.  Due to sicknesses (so many sicknesses!), other plans, or just bad mornings, there are typically several people not in attendance.  The last couple weeks have seen three or four of us sitting around someone's kitchen table talking and munching while the kids play in another room.  The very first session of this year was held at my house and it was a big crowd, almost everybody.  But in the two or three weeks since, we've learned that it is usually going to be just a few.

I emailed everyone last week to let them know it was at my house, and I hoped to see them all there.  I never expect a reply.  Whoever comes, comes.  I sent a reminder last night, and added that if anyone is dropping a kid off for preschool at 9 (like I am), and wants to come straight over afterward, that's fine.  Bible study starts at 10 because we have a homeschooling mom who needs that extra hour in the morning. Then we end around 11:40 when everyone needs to pick up kids from preschool.  Nearly every preschool around here starts at 9 and ends at noon.  Again, I was never expecting a reply to this, but at around 9:40, I did start to get a little antsy.  I gave the second bathroom a quick-and-dirty wipe-down, a little scrubbing of the toilet bowl to get rid of that unsightly hard water stain, and you know -- all the things you rush around and do when you know someone's coming over and you don't want them to be disgusted.  I said a quick prayer for patience and understanding in case nobody showed up and I had baked extra muffins and tidied up for nothing.  I reminded myself that everyone is fighting a battle of some sort today.  You know the saying, 'Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle.'

At around 10, four people arrived one after the other.  I made a half pot of coffee, since only one of the four wanted coffee, and I figured that this is probably going to be everybody.  But then my doorbell started to ring and ring, and before I knew it I had a big crowd.  Too many to count.  OK, so it was eight altogether.  Six of them brought a two-year-old boy, usually in addition to one or two other children.  My house became crowded and loud.  Someone poured the last half cup of coffee, and I went to make more, but there was only one other person who wanted it, and she only wanted half a cup.  She said, "Don't make any more if I'm the only one who wants it."  I cursed myself for not having one of those blasted Keurig machines, if only for times like these.  Then I hesitated like an idiot instead of whipping up another pot of coffee.  Then the crying and fighting ensued.

When we ran upstairs to police some squabbles among the two-year-olds, I unplugged the TV.  I was embarrassed that the other women would think that all my kids do is stare at the TV.  That TV is like my dirty little secret that everyone knows about.  It is right on eye level with the kids, and it is one of the few things we can take away from them by way of punishment.  In hindsight I probably should have left it on.  It would have been better if Timmy and the rest of them had just glued their eyeballs to that screen for an hour-and-a-half.  Instead they -- and mostly I mean Timmy -- ruined bible study for me.

Having all of those little boys in his territory, playing with his toys, especially his cars and trucks (how dare they!) proved too much for Timmy to bear.  I had to separate him from the others and take him back to his room several times just to cool off and cry where he couldn't add to the din already in this house.  I felt bad for him, but he was being the absolute worst. 

It wasn't until 11 that we all settled down in the living room and got out our books and attempted to have a discussion that had anything to do with what we'd been reading.  Guess who wanted to join us?  Every single two-year-old boy.  They took toys and sat on the floor near or next to their mothers.  What happened to that big playroom upstairs?  Why were all these kids in our hair while we were trying to have bible study?  Nothing was going right.  Holden had one of Timmy's trucks.  There was nothing special about it until Holden had it.  Now it was the most important thing to Timmy in the world and he could not be convinced otherwise.  At one point I had to leave him in his bed, then go back out to the living room.  I ended up in a conversation a bit longer than I had intended, and rushed back to Timmy's room as soon as I had an opening.  I found him calmly rolling a couple of cars back and forth on the crib rail.  I asked him if he was ready to come out and play nicely with the other kids.  He nodded.  Why, oh why, didn't I just leave him there?  As soon as I brought him back out, he beelined back to Holden and that stupid truck.  He couldn't let it go and of course, neither would Holden because if it Timmy wanted it that badly, it must be pretty great!  Again I brought him back to his room sobbing.  I did that at least two more times.  Then one of the other two-year-olds, whose mother had been nervous about him being on stairs in the first place, fell down the stairs.  They are carpeted and he wasn't hurt, but phew.  It was painful.  I caught bits and pieces of the discussion going on in the living room, and I'm happy that most of the women here got something out of this.  This week's topic was the importance of having a joyful attitude.  That was very appropriate for me, as this was definitely one of those grin-and-bear-it times.

I love these people, but I have to say, I was so grateful to see them leave.  At last it was just me and my little beast of a boy.  Sitting in his carseat with his cup of milk as we left to get Annie, he said, "Happy now."  With a sigh I said, "I'm glad you're happy now, Timmy."
He's got his juice, his fruit and yogurt parfait, and his little vehicles in a row.  All is right in the world.
This is my third time around, but tell me when again do kids learn how to share and not freak out when some other kid plays with their toys?  It is always at this stage that I doubt my ability as a mother and worry that I'm raising a little monster.  It's not just the sharing, or lack thereof.  It's the stubbornness and willfulness too.  It got better with the other two once they turned three, I know it did.  It's going to happen with Timmy too .. I hope!


  1. We just did a development lesson at my ECFE class (Early childhood education) with Oliver this morning. Sharing + 2-year-olds = disaster. They said not to expect much until 3 and until then parents/caretakers generally have to intervene frequently if only to facilitate taking turns. So Timmy sounds like he is doing pretty darn great in terms of his development :)

    And I always find hosting things at our house/sharing our toys leads to the most tantrums from my kids, same with the kids whose houses we are at for playdates when they have to share their toys.

    1. Thanks, Laura. That was very reassuring. I feel so much better about Timmy being a turd. 2 is such a challenging age. I am glad I am not hosting next and I hope it continues to be the case that he behaves so much better at other peoples' houses.

  2. Totally agree with Laura - I feel my kids are at their worst when it's their toys, their turf, etc. With our older (Allie - she's 4), we approach playdates by telling her to pick all the toys she doesn't want to share and she can put those in her room in her closet away from everyone else. Everything else is fair game. This has worked pretty well the last couple of playdates. Jake is about Timmy's age and there's no way it would work for him, but I like the idea for when he's older. Also, on the issue of sharing, I feel like parents sometimes expect way too much from their kids about sharing. We're always like, share, share, share.. but sharing is hard. Even adults have trouble with sharing, it's just easier because we understand what we're "supposed to do." I remember reading a book once that said kids have a hard time sharing mostly because they don't understand they will get whatever they're sharing back - so in Timmy's case, he probably thought his truck was gone forever unless he stepped in. I think he sounds totally normal in this situation and that you did nothing wrong. A lot of times I try to just let the kids work it out on their own - it sounds like the mom that was worried about the stairs might have been a bit too meek and mild for my taste, Jake was going up/down stairs at 6 months old, if I would have been "worried" about it all the time, he never would be as mobile as he is today. In my humble opinion, if you're going to go to a playdate or a bible study or whatever where there are a lot of kids, you kind of have to roll with whatever is happening. I wouldn't feel bad about anything you or Timmy did that day, you sound like you handled it well and did exactly what I would have done.