Walking with Victor

It’s been something of a mixed bag day today. Victor slept poorly last night so I was incredibly tired for most of the day since I was up with him off and on. Despite the poor sleep, Vic was in full form, quite energetic and bouncy. He got me up around 8 o’clock and I forced myself to get up, make him breakfast and then we sat and watched Sunday morning cartoons on the public TV kids cable channel and cuddled on the couch until Vic couldn’t stay still anymore.

Next we spent a while playing with his toys in his room, until he started wandering around the apartment getting into everything. I’d been hoping he was getting sleepy for his morning nap, but since he’d slept relatively late for him, he just wasn’t ready to sleep. Sabs had gotten up by then (he’s been sick all weekend with the bug that I fought off and uncharacteristically, sleeping in), so I took advantage of his presence to hop in the shower and get dressed with the idea in mind that I’d take Vic out for a walk to tire him out. The two of us finally headed out the door around 11ish to enjoy the bracing morning air and some wonderful sunshine. It’s still muddy of course from all the rain, but it’s great to have clear skies again and a semblance of dryness.

Vic’s been progressing so much developmentally of late, that all I have to do now to get him ready to go out is say “Hey Vic, shoes, go bye-bye!” and he’ll agree, yelling excitedly: “Shuz! Bye-bye!” He’ll get irritated in fact, if I take too long with MY shoes, bouncing back and forth between me and the door going “Bye bye! bye bye!” in insistent tones, the equivalent no doubt of “Let’s go NOW!!! Move it Mom!” He understands the idea of us going out so well in fact, that he ran and got his ride-on car today and waited by the door for me with it. We took it out onto the paths and driveways around the complex.

I watched him tooling around, amazed that the cute little guy with the red hair and long legs is MY kid. He’s grown so much since he was born, changed so much from the little bundle who didn’t do much other than stare up at me with wide, wise eyes. The big eyes are still there, their expression is still often solemn and oddly wise, but more often than not they’re sparkling with mischief these days. This phase is all about testing boundaries for him, and he pushes and tests me at every turn right up to the limits of my patience. He’s teaching me a lot about patience as a matter of fact, and keeping my temper.

He had two small temper fits of his own on the morning walk – he got off his car at one point and ran off between a row of parked cars and the shrubs bordering one of the buildings. This meant that it was really hard for me to get to him and he could run all along the row of cars and potentially out into a traffic area. I booked after him, grabbed him and hauled him away bodily to a safer part of the drive. He wasn’t pleased in the slightest. He also got rather annoyed when I wouldn’t let him haul his car up a set of stairs into one of the other buildings. By then, I figured he was probably ready to go home and get some sleep, and I was right. We got home, took off muddied clothes and he was out like a light in ten minutes.

I spent his nap doing some tidying and relaxing and when he woke up, he was right back into high energy mode. I wound up having to take him out again in the late afternoon for another hour of energy burn-off time. That walk ended up with us splashing in puddles again and me catching Vic as he tossed himself merrily off the top level of the climbing structure in the tot lot in his usual game of “Mama catch me!” He’s growing more and more independent though. It used to be, when he climbed up to the top, I’d go wait for him and he’d just run up, dangle off the monkey bar and drop right into my arms. Now, he doesn’t want me to touch the bars, and he doesn’t want me to pick the side he jumps off of. He’ll fake me out several times before deciding for himself where he wants to go. This is both cool and frustrating all at the same time. It’s great to see more of Vic’s own personality developing, but tiring trying to keep up with his foibles and the attendant temper displays when he doesn’t get his own way.

I always thought that it would be relatively simple to set limits and stick to them. I figured that a few repeats of the rules would eventually sink in, and we’d just progress from there. Unfortunately, at least with our little guy, it doesn’t quite work that way. The repetition is endless, the testing constant. It makes it a lot harder to stick to my guns than I’d ever anticipated. We’re muddling through though, and I’m sincerely hoping that this will result in a non-spoiled, but still spirited and fun child on the other end of toddlerhood.

Vic also no longer likes to be carried unless he’s really tired and will insist on walking everywhere himself. He doesn’t like to hold onto a parental hand either, though we both insist on it for crossing busy streets. I’m looking forward to the day when Vic will understand that when I say “STOP! Cars!” it means, stop or there’ll be a Victor pizza on the pavement. It’ll be nice when he will actually stop the first time I say stop so I don’t have to grab the back of his sweatshirt which sometimes makes him lose his balance and fall, resulting in tears and a small temper tantrum.

After the walk, Vic was much calmer, though covered head to foot with mud and grass stains. He also picked up a scratch on his chin from some underbrush when I had to charge in after him before he fell into a hole in the dirt behind the landscaping and fell flat on his face when I grabbed his sweatshirt. So we came home a little bit bruised, bloody and dirty, ample cause for a nice long bath. I made us all some yummy turkey quesadillas with the last of the Thanksgiving turkey and then settled in to do laundry and dishes. At 8, I started winding Vic down for bed, but he fought me tooth and nail again. Sleep just didn’t seem to be on his agenda for the day. He finally conked out just after 9pm, but it was a wrestling match to get him to dreamland.

It’s almost 11 now and I’m a bit damp from the dishwater spilling over the edge of the sink. My hair is whacked out to say the least from all the Vic-chasing and housework and there’s smears of laundry powder on my shirt from where I wiped my hands off after shoving sheets into the rapidly filling washer. I definitely feel the part of dreary housewife at least on the physical plane and I’m somewhat drained from the constant toddler battles of the day.

Still, I’m left with a rather upbeat feeling in my heart. There’s all this imagery of Vic running around in the sunshine, the beams of light turning his hair bright as a copper pot, the sound of his merry laugh as he chased me around the paths playing hide and seek behind walls and shrubs and rocks, and the sweet feeling of him curling up in the crook of my arm and resting his head on my shoulder as we slowly woke up together with the cartoons this morning.

Life with a toddler isn’t always easy, but it definitely has its rewards that are worth much more than their weight in gold.