A while back, I started posting some entries that clarified some things I felt needed to be further explained. These are all about the truth of our lives.
So here's another one I feel should be clarified.
When Tot was a baby, I don't know that I was ever totally and completely forthcoming about her behavior and our interactions with her as her parents. I've mentioned over the years that she was a very difficult baby and that she was challenging, but I don't know that I ever really talked about that first year with her. I didn't start this blog until Tot was almost a year old, so many references to that early time with her were fleeting, at best.
This is not a Tot bashing session, but a reality session. It's a chance to tell it like it is (was) and to let the adult Tot know that someday, she too may have a child just. like. her.
Tot was colicky. Awful, awful colic. Screaming at the top of her lungs colic. Yelling, crying, and screaming for hours colic. The screaming would be so awful that I would just hold her, walk around the house and sob. She would be crying and I would be crying. Both of us a sobbing mess. Sometimes I'd put her down, walk away and just scream at the top of my lungs. I'd yell, punch pillows, and beg God to give me a break. By the time Bee would walk through the door from work, I'd be a complete mess. I'd hand her over to him and walk away. On some days I'd wonder what we had gotten ourselves into. There were some moments I felt like an awful parent who didn't want my own child.
Tot had reflux and without warning she would projectile vomit across the room. In public, she would projectile onto people. At home I would change both of our clothes endless times a day. I never knew when it would come and I always worried about just leaving the house.
Tot was so super sensitive. Just recently Bee and I had a conversation about all the things that would cause Tot to lose her mind. If you ripped velcro apart, she'd start screaming hysterically. If you pulled packing tape (off a box, to rip a piece off a roll, etc.), she'd start screaming hysterically. If you were in a place that was too loud... yep, hysterics. And these weren't quick events. She would scream for up to a half an hour or more. She just couldn't regroup.
We went to a wedding once and every time we took her inside the reception, she began screaming at the top of her lungs. We drove four hours to attend a wedding we couldn't participate in because of an out of control screaming baby. We drove home that same day, forfeiting our hotel room that we had already paid for and missing the entire reception.
We went to an outdoor wedding where she cried and screamed for an entire two hours. I went home with her in tears while Bee stayed with his family.
We would travel and Tot would cry, hysterically, from the moment we got in the car until we reached our destination. The. Entire. Ride. There were many trips when we would have to pull over so that we could try to get her to recoup or one of us could just get out and scream before we hurt her or each other. It was that stressful.
None of these points are any exaggeration at all. As a matter of fact, I'm still being kind for the sake of not giving the poor child a complex upon reading this someday.
As Tot got older, everything she did was rigid. As a toddler, she had to have everything "just so." She had to be the one to turn off/ on the light, she had to open doors, she had countless rules for everything she did and for everything we did.
Tot needed ample warning for everything we did. We had to give her verbal warnings that bedtime was coming, we were leaving the house, someone was coming over. Any disruption in the day could result in a meltdown. This was an issue when she started preschool and her teachers just didn't understand this.
Tot was a lot of work. A LOT. In retrospect, this wasn't a first child thing. This was/ is a personality thing.
She still requires time for transitions, she still only wants to wear a handful of shirts and pants because so many other ones bother her, she still wants to be the one to pick out whatever it is needs to be chosen. She's done well in school, mostly because we've been very lucky to have some very structured teachers working with her. I still fear the time when she lands in an unstructured classroom.
I didn't talk about a lot of this on the blog and among mixed company because for years I thought I was doing it wrong. All my friends had these perfectly behaved children and we couldn't go out in public with Tot. I was embarrassed as a parent and let's be honest, I had to wonder if something was wrong with me and my ability to deal with her. With a background in special education, I knew she wasn't autistic and I knew she didn't have obsessive-compulsive disorder, even though she had plenty of characteristics of both. But, I didn't want people asserting that this was the case or suggesting that we were missing something, because we weren't. If you know Tot today, you know this to be completely true.
The truth is, parenting Tot as a baby and toddler was downright hard. Beyond hard on many days. She just wasn't like other kids and didn't fit into any mold that I had experienced before. This isn't to say that each child doesn't bring their own set of challenges, but as a parent of three, I am now able to fully understand and see the challenges we faced that are unique to raising a kid like Tot. She has become a spirited almost seven year old who has some quirks, is smart, has friends, does well in school, is well behaved, and loves her daddy, being outside, and art. With all that hard work in those early years, I'm hoping she'll throw us a bone in the teenage years. Would that be too much to ask?