Mommy lesson #63: Housebound with a toddler is much like jail

It has been a loooong week. C woke up lethargic and feverish last Friday morning, and was eventually diagnosed with hand, foot, and mouth disease.

still nothing sweeter than a sleeping baby girl

The good news is she only felt bad for two days and then bounced back to her normal energetic self. The bad news is that this particular illness is contagious for up to seven days after symptoms appear, which meant I had to keep my social butterfly of a daughter isolated for a week. I won’t lie, it was rough. I’m sure many of your have experienced this type of quarantine before, but this was our longest stint. My sweet, compliant daughter morphed into a diva/tyrant/rebellious teenager, and I felt like the warden of a very small yet ferocious prison population. Here are just a few of the incidents that occurred during our stint of house arrest:
(Saturday and Sunday she felt pretty lousy, so all we did was watch Daniel Tiger and eat popscicles. The real trouble started after Daddy headed off to work Monday morning).
– MONDAY:

We played a lot of dress-up. I wore the dinosaur mask.

 C dumped every single dish, cup, fork, teapot, etc. out of her play kitchen, not to play with but so that she had a place to put all of her hairbows (she has a bag of about twenty big, fancy bows in addition to her “everyday bows.” Girl moms you know what I’m talking about). When I asked her to pick them up during our usual post-lunch pre-naptime clean up she emphatically refused, saying, “NO! Mommy do it!” I warned her that if I had to clean them up that all her dishes were going in timeout, but she didn’t care. Her response, “Mommy pick them up and take them away.” So I did. They were banished into the spare room, along with her blocks and that dang pop up baby toy she insists on dragging out whenever she sees it. I released the dishes after two days, the blocks are still on lock-down.
– TUESDAY:

She’s sitting in the spring/summer wreath from the front door. She said it was her raft and she was floating.

I decided my forced imprisonment was a good opportunity to pack away my summer decorations and break out the fall decor. I even sewed some new throw pillow covers. C was enamored with the new items but insisted they were all hers. “Mommy made me new pillows! Thank you!” She proceeded to rearrange all the pillows and pull the throws I had artfully arranged on the furniture off and put them on the floor. Next she spied the (fake) flower arrangement I had put into a container on a side table. She pulled the flowers out and handed them to me, “These are for you Mommy!” and filled the container with her plastic Mickey Mouse Clubhouse characters instead. The rest of the decorations were mercifully out of her reach, but oi vey! Why do I bother decorating again? I forget.
– WEDNESDAY:

This was by far the worst day. We were both feeling the walls closing in, getting increasingly demanding (her) and impatient (me). After lunch she kept asking to go outside, but refused to change out of her nightgown or put shorts on underneath it. I finally got her onto the changing pad only to engage in a wrestling match because she thought it was hilarious to make it impossible for me to change her diaper. When I finally accomplished that she started pulling her shorts off every time I put them on. I finally threw the shorts over her head (resisting the urge to throw them at her head) and locked myself in my bedroom for a mandatory mommy time-out. (Please note: The changing pad was on the floor of her bedroom and when I say I “locked myself in my room” I meant I closed the door and turned the monitor on). Fifteen minutes later, after I’d calmed down, I went back into her room. It had been pretty quiet the whole time and I was dreading what I would find. Crayon drawings on the wall? Every item of clothing strewn around the room? But no, she was still laying on the floor on her changing mat. She very sweetly told me she was sorry, then had a meltdown when I accepted her apology but informed her that it was now naptime, too late to play outside. Oy.
Naturally there were endless more battles over cleaning up, books shoved violently into my side (still have bruises) when I didn’t agree to read the story quickly enough, emphatic demands for food that she refused to actually eat, and meltdowns over baths, hair being combed, and p.j.’s being worn.
But I can’t forget there were some very sweet moments too. After her nap one afternoon she crawled into my lap saying, “Mommy, I just want to snuggle a little bit,” tucking her head into my shoulder and draping her arms around my neck. Then she said, “I love you Mommy. I love you sooo much. Ugga Mugga! (nose rub kiss, snotty but still sweet, thanks Daniel Tiger). Here Mommy, I baked this banana bread just for you!” (Holds out a handful of imaginary banana bread, copying both a Daniel Tiger episode and her Little Critter book. Hey, told you we watched a lot of TV when she was sick. Don’t judge.)
After she got in trouble she always said “I’m so so so so so sorry, I didn’t mean to, it was an accident” (apparently she’s learning her apologizing skills from Lilly of the purple plastic purse and No David, but I’ll take it).
I’m sure this is just a taste of what’s in store next year when she becomes a “threenager” (I just have this feeling we’re going to go through a rough patch around then). I can practically feel my patience stretching, though I’m not sure it’s growing any. I’m trying. Please share your stories of toddler-created frustration. Let me know I’m not alone!


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