I recently wrote about my top tips for traveling with a toddler. I was referencing our recent cross-country trip involving planes, trains and automobiles. This is about a different type of travel with a toddler…specifically, our trip to visit the next-door neighbor. Not necessarily as lengthy in distance but certainly involving a fair amount of strategy, planning and, yes, occasionally tears.
Anyone who has dealt with toddler behavior understands that the toddler tantrum is not bad behavior, but merely often the only available means to express frustration. As challenging as those tantrums can be, it’s an important part of working through and “feeling those feelings.” This is a good reminder and lesson in patience for me. She has HER agenda and strategy and in her mind it is just as important as MY agenda and priorities. I am Type A and I have clearly created a Mini Me.
A little backstory…My three-year-old has a neighborhood bestie. We will call her “M” for the purposes of this story. They are the same age and have the same interests (dress-up, sidewalk chalk and eating snacks at each other’s houses). It is ADORABLE. I love these two girls and love that they are growing up together. Pretty much every time one of them visits the other’s home they “borrow” something that they cannot bear to stop playing with at that particular moment. We then take it home, play with it, clean it and return it the next day. Cute stuff, right?
Here is the epic tale of what is now known as the “Return of the Belle Costume.”
My three-year-old had borrowed M’s bright yellow Belle dress-up costume. We took it home, played with it and then I washed it because, you know, yogurt. I let 3yo know we were going to walk next door to return the costume to M. 3yo got excited. This was no ordinary trip. There might be playing involved. She needed to be ready for any and every eventuality so she raced to her room to pick out the perfect visiting outfit. Let’s just say tutus were involved.
Then she decided that the only possible means of transportation was her tricycle. Her tricycle that was parked in the garage behind the other bikes. Did she want my help getting it out of the garage? Oh, HELL no. How could I suggest such a thing? Cue tantrum number one.
20 minutes later she managed to wrangle the tricycle out of the garage. Now she needed to put on her helmet. Did she want my help? What do you think, reader? You got it. Another H-E-Double Hockey Sticks NO. Cue tantrum number two.
10 minutes later we have the helmet on, snapped and we are ready to go. She happily and proudly pedals the fifteen feet next door. She alights from her tricycle and now it is time to remove the helmet. Those under-the-chin straps are tricky for little fingers. I (cautiously) offered assistance. Oops. Bad idea. Cue tantrum number three.
10 minutes later the tears are wiped away and we walk hand-in-hand to the door. Three-year-old knocks. And knocks again. The door is opened by M’s mom. M is not home. Uh-oh. Cue tears…
We return the costume with promises to play as soon as M is home. Pacified, we walk down the driveway to her bicycle to begin the long trek home…next door.
Do the math, friends. A typical trip next door takes approximately 45 minutes when traveling with a three-year-old. I am working on developing patience with a lot of deep breathing and muttering “serenity now” under my breath. Prayers for my sanity are welcome and appreciated. Thanks!