Toddler Head

Am I the only one here who’s sick unto death of man­ag­ing myself like some balky damn toddler? 

When you have a tod­dler in the house every sin­gle moment of your life is con­sumed with man­ag­ing the tod­dler. They are inge­nious, … and they can walk. In fact, when on one of their laser guid­ed mis­sions toward trou­ble they can walk a hell of a lot faster than the aver­age sleep deprived par­ent of a tod­dler. There’s noth­ing trick­i­er than keep­ing a tod­dler out of trou­ble. Except maybe get­ting one to do some­thing that they’ve decid­ed they don’t want to do. 

Having a pup­py is kind of like hav­ing a tod­dler. I recent­ly had a pup­py in my life. My nor­mal­ly pret­ty calm, grown ups only house was a maze of gates, bar­ri­ers, crates, and playpens; and a mine field of chew toys, boun­cy balls, and squeaky things. Not to men­tion the 42 pounds of 4 month old Bouvier. And one, very damn grumpy, old Miniature Schnauzer. 

The pup­py I man­aged pret­ty well. Like the clown in the bull ring said: Not my first rodeo. I know where to put the gates, when to take Monkey-Socks with Extra Teeth out for pot­ty breaks and not to leave any shoes below waist lev­el. No, my prob­lem is the oth­er tod­dler. The balky, sullen, over­grown tod­dler that is me. Yeah, there’s more than one black dog in the house. There’s the pup that’s sits under my chair while I’m typ­ing and there’s Mr. Churchill’s dog, who’s once again tak­en up res­i­dence in my brain. The damned thing turns me into the worst kind of tod­dler. Not the tiara wear­ing pageant brat that some­how seems to have made it onto TV. Nope, this is the snot nosed, snuf­fling, arms slack at her sides lump of clay that Won’t.

I can­not get the lit­tle shit mov­ing. There is no promise, no whee­dle, no cajole, no threat, no mind game that can budge her. She’s too damned smart. Just sits there and looks back at me with a know­ing glower. 

There are tricks, a thou­sand tricks. And we’ve all heard them. From well-meaning friends, from the self-help books, from our ther­a­pists. Yeah, I’ve got a ther­a­pist. She and I go way back.

Have you been through this? The ther­a­py where they teach you to “man­age” your­self? Make lists, sched­ule things, set pri­or­i­ties. Build up a rou­tine, get up and do some­thing, any thing, it doesn’t mat­ter. Exercise is key. Set a timer and do just five min­utes of some­thing. Make a list. Don’t allow your­self to engage in repet­i­tive activ­i­ty. Don’t turn on the com­put­er (yeah, right, I’m a writer. WTF — I’m sup­posed to copy this shit out in cray­on and send it out to you all by bal­loon?) Take a walk, Think hap­py thoughts, Call a friend. Breathe. Go to yoga class. 

Ah, go to hell. If I could get the kid to do any of those things with any sort of ease I wouldn’t be in this mess. 

I try talk­ing sense.

Take a walk — you’ll feel better.
Go to the gym — you’ll feel better.
Call a friend — you’ll feel better.
Take a show­er — you’ll feel better.
Write some­thing — you’ll feel better.

I try bargaining.

Set a timer for 5 min­utes and clean the counter. I’ll give you this cook­ie. She swipes the damned cook­ie right out of my hand. Hey, she’s big­ger than me.
Sort your inbox, just to be sure that there’s noth­ing in there that can hurt you. You can play Bejeweled afterwards.
Just emp­ty the dish­wash­er. You don’t have to load it.
Write the draft of a blog post. Maybe it’ll be fun­ny. You can have a nap when you’re done.
Make the three phone calls. You can ignore the email mes­sages today.

I make threats:

Sort the mail — or some­thing won’t get paid.
Clean the fridge — or some­thing will rot.
Take out the trash — or some­thing will smell.
Read those emails — or some­one will be angry.
Get off your ass — or some­thing bad will happen. 

I try blackmail.

Well, okay, black­mail doesn’t work because black­mail depends on some­one car­ing and the bat­tle cry of the tod­dler is Don’t Care!

The prob­lem is that the tod­dler is savvy. The tod­dler has been around the block a few times. The tod­dler is on to me.

Best sto­ry ever…

Microsoft, like most big, mod­ern com­pa­nies offers their employ­ees a host of train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. Things like Project Management Theory and Software Coding Security Standards and the ever pop­u­lar Building Effective Teams which includes assess­ing team roles and per­son­al­i­ties, set­ting and meet­ing team goals, help­ing your employ­ees to man­age con­flict, and all that crap. 

One guy took it all a lit­tle too far. He took his skill set home with him and when faced with a domes­tic cri­sis for­got that he was sit­ting at the din­ner table not a con­fer­ence table and that the per­son over there was his wife not a team member. 

When she deter­mined that her con­cerns were being met with con­flict de-escalation and team goal align­ment strate­gies rather than prop­er spousal atten­tive­ness she blurt­ed: “Don’t you dare man­age me.”

That’s my tod­dler, all over. “Don’t you dare.”

Believe me, I’d rather not have to. 

One reply on “Toddler Head”

  1. Dang tod­dler, and she appears to be a smart one. Your needs go way beyond my abil­i­ty to help so I’ll just send you best wish­es. Keep us post­ed on the bat­tles and maybe one day you’ll win the war.

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