His body goes limp in my arms, still young but not-so-little. He screams, thrashes, brings himself to the floor.
He didn’t want to brush his teeth, but he didn’t want his twin sister to have teeth time with me either. He wanted to be first, and to also not brush his teeth.
I stay calm, for now. Looking at the clock. Bedtime is here, and every minute we wait is one more minute this child is tired. Very tired.
The meltdown continues for a long, long time. Through the brushing of his sister’s teeth. Through the reading of a story to her that he couldn’t bear to listen to or be a part of. Following us into the next room, eyes full of tears, screaming, getting close to my face and saying, “Mommy, I want to HIT you.” Waiting for my reaction as he says it again and again. He never does hit me.
Knowing my patience will save me (and possibly him), I keep repeating, “I know. I know you do.”
Sister’s book is over, she’s ready to head up to bed. He wants to brush his teeth with me now and I give him one more chance. “Are you ready to brush your teeth right now?” “YES!” he screams. I head over to the table and he….collapses onto the wood floor. He’s not ready.
With no time to spare at a time where this boy desperately needs to sleep, I’m forced to carry his 35-pound self up the stairs, giving him the choice along the way to walk. He can’t do it – he can’t stop screaming, thrashing, doing anything he can to get out of my arms.
Pregnant, guiding sister up the stairs ahead of us (and praying she doesn’t slip) I hold on as tightly to his wriggling body as I can. Knowing in my heart that I won’t drop this child. And I don’t. We make it up and I know it won’t get any better.
The sadness starts to creep in. He’s so angry he’s simply screaming a sound with no words. How sad to end our day together this way. The night before I have to go back to work. Where we could be doing hugs and “I love you”‘s, and we’re not. I can’t even communicate with him.
Sister starts to get upset, as her routine was disrupted too. The hug they give each other before cribs – he can’t accept it. She wants to give it, open arms ready. And I just won’t do. At that moment I feel sad for her, too. She wants a routine, she’s ready to comply, she loves her brother. And he can’t see that right now, he can’t see through his own tears.
Into her crib she goes. Into his crib he goes, kicking and screaming. Jumping up and down and grabbing the sides of the crib. I wonder if this will be the first time he is determined enough to climb out. I sing her the song. I sing him the song as he screams, “Don’t sing! Don’t sing!”
And when it’s over, I turn to tell her goodnight, and I hear in a sad voice, “Mommy, a kiss! Kiss me!”
I can’t believe it. He never asks for a kiss. How could he have known that asking for this little tiny thing brings me full circle, from angry to frustrated to sad to…the deepest level of love. This boy puts me through the ringer.
He gets his kiss (or 5) and I promise him that I love him, that everyone loves him, that it’s okay to be sad. And then, that his lovey is sad too, and could he make Lovey feel better?
He lays down, finally. Snuggles Lovey. I say goodnight and “I love you”‘s to both babies; there’s a little protest but he’s still lying down.
By the time I get down the stairs he’s snuggled up in sleeping position (always on the belly).
I’m mentally drained, still sad, still full of so much love for both of my perfect, imperfect children that my heart might just burst. The carton of ice cream and a spoon join me on the couch. This night is effectively over.
Many minutes later, his sister finally whispers, “B? You’re happy now, B?”
But he doesn’t answer. He’s already dreaming of tomorrow.