It’s not really about the bike. Sure the bike may have set it off, but in reality, it’s more about being a toddler. Being a toddler means learning crazy amounts of new things every day, discovering emotions that are overwhelming at the best of times, and having little control over anything in your life. Together it makes for a frustrating existence. Oh, and did I mention your mouth constantly hurts because teeth are literally ripping holes through your gums?
So that’s where we are.
For the most part, E is still a very happy and easy going kid. Take him outside, distract him with something fun, and he forgets about most of the stuff causing him pain or frustration. However, at the end of a long day when he’s tired and hungry but his mouth hurts? That’s a different story.
We were at a farmer’s market last weekend giving E the chance to run around. We didn’t really need anything there, but it was an excuse to get outside and let him explore. He was loving it. There were dogs, and food, and we even bought him a pumpkin. And then he does the thing that makes me cringe every time - he made friends. Yes I know it’s a good thing, and I generally let him, but as an introvert who hates talking to people I don’t know, it’s the most awkward thing ever.
Awkward or not, we found ourselves talking to the parents of a little girl a year or two older than E as the kids just stared at each other. But here’s the thing. The little girl had a balance bike, and E was VERY interested. We eventually dragged him away, and managed to distract him with something else. When we got home, though, Tom decided to see if E had grown enough to fit on his own bike. You see, we have a balance bike too. Hidden away because E couldn’t reach the ground when he sat on it, and he wasn’t happy about that fact.
Turns out, he can touch the ground! Kind of. With shoes on and if he’s on tip toes. Not the best combination for a balance bike, but a step in the right direction. So that night we played with it in the driveway, and E’s entire face lit up with excitement the entire time. Pure joy.
The bike went back to the basement, but it was hidden a little less well than it was before. And E had a renewed knowledge of how cool it was. So when we came home from daycare the other day, it didn’t matter that we were in a bit of a hurry. It didn’t matter that I needed to go to the bathroom and E was starving and needed to eat dinner. He saw the bike.
Ran right up to it, hands on the handlebars, and then looked up at me expectantly. So I put him on the bike. And helped him walk it around the basement a few times. Until I decided it was enough, and we should get on with the rest of our night.
And that was the problem. I decided. Not him. And so with little notice or input, he was being lifted off the bike and carried upstairs. You see where this is going, right? 15 minutes later I was still dealing with the worst tantrum ever, and nothing was ending it. E couldn’t catch a breath, and tears were pouring out of his eyes. He was alternating between crying on the floor while I rubbed his back, and clinging to me as I carried him around.
Everything had come crashing down at once, and all of his frustrations from the day came pouring out. And so we waited it out. It was horrible and awful, and I know it won’t be the last time.
Eventually dinner was eaten, Motrin was given, and enough fun was had before bed that the tantrum from earlier was mostly forgotten (by him anyway). All I can hope is that I get a little better at helping E work through them and end them quicker (or avoid them completely) with each passing tantrum, and that he grows up learning healthy and appropriate ways to handle overwhelming feelings. Because those never go away.
The bike, though? That’s been hidden again until the weekend, when we will have plenty of time to play with it out in the driveway.