Toddlers. Irrational. Explosive. Highly energetic. And let us not forget dangerous. They can be pure charm, and melt your heart as they pitter patter across the kitchen floor, lovey in hand and plant a wet kiss on your cheek.
But the same little pitter patter can land at your feet in a thump as your precious pint sized friend hurls his body at the floor, and repeatedly slams his little fists down or grabs your leg rendering you immobile until you succumb to his unreasonable demand.
What parent of a toddler has not feared a trip to the supermarket scheduled just a bit too close to nap time? Who among us has not ducked out of the way as some object that has no business flying is hurled in our direction? I’m on my third toddler, and I seemed to have learned relatively no effective strategies for coping with the most difficult moments with these most difficult of God’s creatures. But I do believe my sister in law, unwittingly, may have changed all that the other day, while playing with my young charge.
Namaste. She actually had my little guy- the tiny terror– doing yoga with her.
Downward Dog, table top, child’s pose, Jesse was engaged in all. She even had him sitting cross legged (“criss cross apple sauce” she called it) doing the breathing with his small hands clasped together against his chest. It was quite impressive and adorable to see his two year old self, diaper peeking out from his jeans, contorted in my favorite yoga positions, and even cuter to watch him repeat the breaths and bow his head toward his Auntie.
So as I watched his happy face I had an epiphany. I do yoga for all the physical and emotional benefits it allows me. Those fifteen minutes after yoga class, nothing can bother me. House on Fire? Namaste. Babysitter cancelling for the big night out? Namaste. Snarky eight year old? Whiny five year old? Cranky two year old? Grouchy husband who had to stay with kids while I went to yoga? Namaste, one and all! Now, if it has this effect on me, it should have the same effect on Jesse.
Jesse: Mommy, I want cookie.
Me: No, it’s too early for a cookie.
Jesse: (getting louder): But I want cookie! (This is his answer to everything- I want, therefore I should have- all very logical in his mind)
Me: Shhh, everyone is sleeping. (I point upstairs) You can’t have a cookie. (At this point I often consider breaking down- what’s a little early morning sugar compared to a full blown tantrum or my own nervous breakdown?)
Jesse: (runs over to the pantry to take cookie anyway) Jesse get cookie!
Me: Namaste Jesse. Let’s do yoga underneath the rising sun! Quick grab your mat and let’s get outside. Breathe. Let’s get into child’s pose. Downward dog. Up into warrior one.
Early morning sugar fest crisis averted.
Sometime later that day when the silence is deafening…
Me: Jesse where are you? (I broke the simplest of all toddler rules—never let them out of your sight)
Jesse: I up here mommy. I in the bathroom.
Me: (breaking the sound barrier to get upstairs and being greeted by my son perched atop the bathroom counter with some sort of lotion spread all over his clothes and exposed extremities) Jesse you need to get you down from there. (I try to make sure my tone of voice is even and does not belie the five alarm fire bell going through my head. Did he swallow the lotion? Do I need to call poison control? How the hell did he manage to get up there in the first place?)
Jesse: But I don’t want to get down. (Translation: It took a lot for me to get up here, lady and if you think I am getting down because you asked, or you decided you are in charge around here, forget it!)
Me: I understand you don’t want to get down, but it is dangerous to be up there. Jesse, Mommy is going to take you down, and we are going to take a bath. You need to get the lotion off.
Jesse: No! (A toddler’s favorite word, particularly if it is screeched) No Bath! I need lotion. Like Mommy. (So now it’s my fault. A little moisturizer to keep my wrinkles at bay, and he thinks he needs to adopt my beauty regimen, but with A&D ointment and Neosporin.) I not come down! (Stomping feet has commenced as he gets dangerously close to the sink, where I imagine one wrong step and he will fall in, necessitating a trip to the emergency room)
Me: Namaste, Jesse. Come down and we will do our breathing, okay? (I approach gingerly, already taking breaths, and grab Jesse off of the countertop) Take child’s pose Jesse. Take a deep cleansing breath. Exhale. Good. When you are ready, we will meet in downward dog. Don’t forget to breathe, Jesse. Good. Wouldn’t it be nice to do your yoga in the bath, now?
Jesse: No! No bath! Jesse do yoga! Jesse breathe! Mommy breathe!
So if yoga is not the answer, what is? I have about eighteen months left in captivity of a toddler to figure it out. Maybe I should have just given him the cookie in the first place.