Thursday, November 29, 2007

Lack of cooperation

When the boys turned a year old, what surprised me was the suddenness of toddlerhood. One day they were babies, the next day they were toddlers with tantrums and opinions and getting into trouble. What has surprised me about the boys turning 18 months is the sudden and complete lack of cooperation. I knew 18-24 months was time of "independence" but I did not know this meant they would refuse to cooperate with everything.

After months of two immobile babies, it is impossible to describe the joy of saying, "Let's go upstairs and brush teeth!" and seeing two toddlers run to the stairs, climb them, run into the bathroom, climb onto their stools, and peek at themselves in the mirror while waiting for their teeth to be brushed. It was like the biggest birthday and Christmas present wrapped into one with the most ridiculous bow on top.

Now it is a completely different story, particularly when Jon travels. I say, "Let's go upstairs and brush teeth!" and Nate runs to grab a book. Alex refuses to leave his toy. I walk over to each of them, grab their hands and walk them to the stairs. I open the gate and they turn around, lift their arms and say, "UP!" I somehow manage to get them up the stairs through a combination of throwing toys up the stairs for them to chase and putting them on successively higher steps.

They run throughout the upstairs so I have to lock the upstairs gate and corral them into the bedroom to shut the door. They then run through the bedroom getting into everything (I've learned to never leave a bookmark in a book...) or run into the bathroom and climb into the tub. I used to try to say, "Let's brush teeth!" this entire time but they've stopped cooperating so I save my words.

Somehow I get their teeth brushed because they either decide to cooperate or I put them in a headlock. Then I have to corral them out of the bathroom, stopping Alex from flushing the toilet and stopping Nate from climbing onto his stool to grab anything and everything off the bathroom counter.

Once in the bedroom, I put one of them in the pack and play (PNP) while I change the other. The one who is getting their pajamas on is usually protesting by this point, so it's a WWE smackdown to get a diaper on. I've pretty much perfected pinning them down with one leg, leaving both hands free to change their diaper. Meanwhile, the one in the PNP is throwing things out onto both me and the other one. All it took was one book to the head for me to learn to keep the PNP filled with stuffed animals.

I swap them out, change the other one's clothes, and start saying, "Time for a BOOK! Do you want to READ?" so they will actually sit in one place while I grab some books. The books are never where they started before the boys trashed the room. I read them two books, tell them it's night night time, and here's the one place where they still cooperate.

They walk to the bedroom door, walk to their beds, and stand there waiting. I'm not sure what I'll do when this final piece of cooperation stops happening. When Jon travels, I always have grand plans of what I will accomplish after the boys go to bed. And then I always wonder why I feel so exhausted and have no energy to get much done. I think I'll have to refer back to this post, because this represents just 15 minutes of my night with their lack of cooperation.

I never thought I would be one of those parents dragging their kids around by the wrist to get them places. Again, my naive pre-baby self was hilariously ignorant, particularly about the logistics of twins. Some days, if I have any hope of getting things done, I've got to drag them around nicely and firmly by their wrists.

At the very least, I am getting quite a bit of exercise chasing them through the house to corral them. And I've stopped saying, "Let's go." quite as much.


Megan said...

This is a great post. You write so well- we got a perfect 'visual' of the night! I particularly like the image of you chucking toys up the stairs and asking the boys to go get them so that THEY will go up the stairs. And I hear ya on the holding wrists firmly. I found myself last weekend guiding my daughter by the hood of her jacket in a store to make sure that the 'no touch' objects were entact when we left. After a 15 min segment like the one you described, I can see why a nice glass of wine sounds like a perfect way to end the night!

Snickollet said...

I could have written this post. Maddie and Riley are so BUSY--it's almost like they try to cooperate when I ask them to head to the bathroom to brush teeth, but they just get so distracted by all the stuff to look at, pull on, throw, investigate, eat, etc. on the way that they don't get there without a lot of guidance.

It's frustrating but it's fun to watch them learn and explore. Sometimes. Other times, it's just frustrating.

Lindsay said...

Isn't 18 months fun? (read with heavy sarcasm!) He was so good at putting away toys a few months ago! It was a game! It was fun! Now heaven forbid I try to take a toy away from him or be "all done" with ANYTHING that has caught his fancy.

Last night, he slept with a book firmly tucked under his belly. And the only way I can get his toothbrush away from him is to bribe him with chapstick. I'm trying to stick to my guns with routine so it will go away eventually. It will go away, right?

AmberP said...

I agree with Megan - I have a visual in my head that just cracks me up. I know I know - not funny. It's just I can see myself in your situation with my kiddos and it is so nice to hear that others go through the same that I do!

My girls FED off eachother - being 13 months apart, there was NEVER a separation of stages after the first year of Alyse's life... it still goes that way. And we still battle - but on a whole different level!!!

ElizabethS said...

Oh Laura,
I have been SOOO jealous of you and how cooperative the boys were at night, especially for teeth brushing. I thought, "Why can't my ONE child stand and brush her teeth even for a few seconds, or let me brush them, when she can get TWO to brush their teeth happily!" You have just described a night putting Katie to bed, only with two of them. DO you remember me mentioning only days ago that I wanted her to want to read? Well, now she wants to, (again and again) and never go to bed. :) First I can't get her in the tub without screaming, then I can't get her OUT of the tub without a fit. Go figure! Remind me to ask you about those headlocks...

bella said...

Right there with you.
It has changed from the way it was at 18 months and now my guy is almost four. But there are some days when I stop even trying to suggest things because the mere fact that I offered them seems to MAKE him not want to.
That you are doing this with twins makes me want to come over and bake you chocolate ├ęclairs. You deserve one!

Michele said...

I'm right there with you - Maddie is now wanting to pick out her own clothes and says "no - different shirt!".

I find myself saying "Come on!" so much more

idtwinmom06 said...

Sounds like a typical night with Matt and Will. I'm jealous that you can drag Nate and Alex around by their wrists- M&W learned too quickly that they could avert this by dropping to their knees. Smart kids!

Joanna said...

Wow. I wish I could see a video of that!

RocketMom said...

Oh, I recognize that bedtime routine! (And my boys are no longer 18 months.) If I've got an hour I can get the boys through the routine that should take about 15 minutes. If not, we end up skipping parts, and getting to bed late. Sometimes it works to play a game "whatever you do, don't brush your teeth", or "who can get to the bathroom first?" But if we're really running late? That's when they dig their heels in!