“Toddler Time” has a close companion most easily referred to as “Newborn Time.” The two of them, I’ve come to realize, don’t often complement one another, and at times have the potential to produce great stress. I often feel caught in the middle like one of those gel-filled stretch dolls from the 70’s. My brother had an Incredible Hulk one. You could pull each arm in opposite directions and it would stretch way out of shape but never quite break.
“Newborn Time” is most pointedly characterized by the “two-hour alarm.” This is when a newborn explodes like an army of fire trucks when s/he is hungry. It generally happens at two hour intervals around the clock for several weeks and then, thank God, tends to only happen once or twice in the middle of the night for the next few months until eventually the newborn turns into an infant and sleeps through the entire night. That is when “Infant Time” kicks in, but that’s another story for another day.
As for “Newborn Time,” I’m pretty certain that most newborn babies come with this pre-programming. This is one of only a couple things I boldly question God about. The other is why didn’t He design Daddies with the right equipment to share in the breastfeeding duties? It would sure make life easier for Mommies. All humbleness goes out the window when it comes to these two issues, and I dare suggest to God that He surely was not in His right mind when He designed newborns with two-hour alarms and forgot to give Daddies the right kind of breasts.
Newborns are in charge of the clock. That’s just how it is. Before you argue with me, rest assured, I read Babywise and tried it with Dear Daughter. It didn’t work. As soon as I tried to take charge of the time and conditioned her to into a three-hour alarm instead of a two-hour alarm during the daytime, she decided to embark on a power struggle by re-setting her nighttime alarm to three-hour function as well. Prior to this battle of wills, she had only been sounding the nighttime alarm once. Best to let them be in charge of the clock in the first place, I learned.
When Dear Son arrived, I glanced at the Babywise book sitting on my bookshelf, briefly considered reviewing it, then debated with myself whether to burn it or try to sell it on Ebay. Either way I knew that this time I would not mess with nature; I would accept that the Newborn is in charge.
Accepting “Newborn Time” is doable, especially when one reminds oneself that it is temporary. Of course, it also helps at this point to ignore the fact that “Infant Time” will follow with its own challenges. However, when one has a newborn and a toddler in the home at the same time, there is a whole new conflict.. I experienced this at its best yesterday while trying to get out the door with Dear Daughter to go shopping at the Stuff-Mart.
A new quirk has emerged at our house regarding “Toddler Time.” I think the saying goes something like, “Pee or get off the pot!” Forgive me for the rabbit trail I just cannot resist inserting at this time….
Dear Daughter has been potty trained since 22 months of age, and soon after developed a fascination with public bathrooms. At certain public places, Dear Daughter would always ask to “go pee pee.” These places tended to include Daddy’s office, the Stuff-Mart, and Sears. As soon as Dear Daughter was potty trained, I purchased a folding potty seat with handles to use for these kinds of occasions. I despise public restrooms and could barely stomach the thought of sitting Dear Daughter on a public toilet. Her potty seat unfolds and fits on top of the public toilet, making the opening smaller and more sanitary, and has handles for her to hold onto. In addition to the germs, I despise the tiny toilet stalls in public restrooms. These are tough enough for the average sized woman to navigate. Add a toddler and about six months’ worth of pregnancy, and it’s nothing short of a circus act.
The last time we were at Sears to get Dear Daughter’s pictures taken she decided she had to “go pee pee.” On this particular day in the Sears restroom, I eventually managed to get my pregnant self and Dear Daughter wedged in the stall, potty equipment set up, and sit Dear Daughter upon the toilet (in-between constant orders to Dear Daughter not to touch anything as she busily explored the bacteria ridden cubicle). I sort of semi kneeled and squatted near her (not an easy feat when several months pregnant), supporting her as she teetered on the potty, wiping sweat from my brow and huffing and puffing from all the effort. This particular position, as I recall, was most uncomfortable and difficult to hold for long. Nevertheless, my darling oblivious toddler had all the time in the world. That’s how it works on Toddler Time, after all. She sat listening to the sounds of the public restroom, fascinated by all of them. Doors opened and shut, toilets flushed, water swished, and Dear Daughter was so distracted that she was unable to pee. Throughout the whole ordeal I tried to coax and plead the urine out of her to no avail. Giving up, I got Dear Daughter back off the potty, packed up the gear, wedged us both back out of the stall, got our hands washed, and still huffing and puffing, returned to the portrait studio where Dear Husband was trying to choose which poses to order from Dear Daughter’s photo shoot. Moments later Dear Daughter announced again, “Pee pee!” I pondered my options at this point. I could retrace all my steps with the restroom adventure or gamble on whether Dear Daughter would wet her pants. After repeating the whole ordeal twice, on the third try she finally managed to relieve her bladder.
Dear Daughter still occasionally pulls this bathroom trick in public places and we never know when to take her seriously. Last Saturday I asked Dear Daughter if she needed to go potty before leaving home and coming with me to the Stuff-Mart. Dear Daughter didn’t hesitate to announce that she needed to go “poopie.” I thought to myself that I was very glad that I asked her before we left. The Stuff-Mart is one of those places with the restroom she likes to visit. Besides, it was about 20 degrees outside with a few inches of snow. I pictured a replay of the Sears ordeal, only this time with heavy coats and boots to wrestle with as well. Yes, I thought with satisfaction, I’m glad we are getting this out of the way before we leave.
Dear Husband set her on the potty and Toddler Time kicked in. Meanwhile, I had just finished nursing Dear Son, and the Newborn clock was ticking. Only an hour and a half left until the two-hour alarm would go off. Dear Daughter asked for a book to read while she “waited for the poopie to come.” Great. This was my first clue that we were about to have a conflict of time. The tension was mounting. The weekly trip to the Stuff-Mart tends to take at least an hour and a half from start to finish. Dear Son was staying home with Dear Husband while I took Dear Daughter shopping with me and now there was only one hour and 15 minutes before the two-hour alarm went off. I silently implored of God once again, “What were you thinking?!!”
The clock ticked…”poopie” didn’t come. All the begging, pleading, and cajoling of Dear Daughter to hurry it up only made things worse as she sat on her throne tearfully insisting she had to go (though nothing was happening) and begging me to wait for her. Indeed, Toddler Time and Newborn Time were anything but synchronized that day. The family-mobile was running in the driveway, coats and boots lay in wait to be put on, time ticked by, and still “poopie” didn’t come.
This time the story has a happy ending. Although I dare not try to take full control of Newborn Time, I can sometimes manipulate it. I snuck in another nursing for Dear Son while waiting for “poopie” to come. This can sometimes re-set the two-hour alarm, but it is not always successful. This time it worked. And while “poopie” never did come, neither did Dear Daughter request to visit the restroom at the Stuff-Mart.
Time has whole new meanings these days. Newborn Time tends to tick by too fast while Toddler Time often goes too slow. And not unlike the gel-filled Incredible Hulk doll, I often feel caught in the middle, pulled from both sides, and stretched thin.