It is so unfair. Why does it always seem that your children have an overabundance of energy - which bursts forth in various forms such as yelling, jumping wildly, kicking, and (my personal favorite) head butting you right in the nose – right at the exact same moment all of YOUR energy appears to have abandoned you? Ephraim happily and giddily played drums on my arm and shook his little head back and forth (quite similarly to Linda Blair in that movie, The Exorcist) all the while squirming as if he had a horde of fire ants in his diaper. He could not sense the tension growing in me as I tried to put pants on his flailing feet and a shirt on his thrashing arms. He could not feel the anger swelling up inside of me which I held desperately onto so as not to unleash it on my unsuspecting and oblivious 2 year old.
There have been many times when that tension has flowed forth, tearing down the floodgates of my gritted teeth and clenched fists on its way out. Those walls were not even close to being strong enough to hold onto that ire and, sadly, my children were not strong enough to catch it. And why should they have to be? For the most part, our boys are pretty well behaved. They have their “two-year-old” moments like any normal toddler. For example when I say, “Time to eat” and they take off running. Or when I say, “Don’t touch that” and Ephraim splays a smile across his face wider than the Rio Grande and closes his eyes as tight as he can as if to say, “You can’t see me!” Or, for example, when it’s time for the boys to get out of the tub, freshly cleaned, and Ely decides to poop in the water. Yes, they certainly have their moments of toddler hood but, then again, don’t we all?
My children are, after all, just children. Oblivious, innocent, mischievous, trusting. They do not know that their game of run-away-from-mommy is making me madder than a swatted bee. They do not understand why milk all down the front of the freshly cleaned shirt, which they have only been in for five minutes, is a bad thing. All they know is that it’s fun. All they understand is that “mommy laughed once before when I did this so she’ll laugh this time, too!” My babies are too young to know about fatigue, too innocent to know about anger and irritation, too free to understand restraint. And that is precisely the reason I did not allow my anger at my wiggly Ephraim to seep out to be detected. I simply finished dressing him, put him in his crib, and said good night to them both. True, my children can drive me nuts at times but then I think about what it will be like when they are old enough to understand the “give and take” of relationships. They will certainly learn about restraint, fatigue, anger, and frustration soon enough. For now, though, I chose to let them go on believing that if they shut their eyes tight enough, I truly can’t see them.