As my daughter inches closer to turning two, I get excited thinking about all of the wonderful and fun adventures we can go on now that she’s older. Like going on a carousel ride or spending a day at the beach or perhaps running through the sprinkler in the backyard. What I always fail to realize during these daydreams is that there’s no guarantee that Thumper will enjoy any particular activity. Such as going on a carousel ride or spending a day at the beach or perhaps running through the sprinkler in the backyard.
You see, last week I packed Thumper in the car for a two-hour drive to the beach. I armed myself with beach towels and sunscreen, sand toys and a Frisbee, a cooler full of snacks and an umbrella. I even joked to Dawson that the umbrella was a stupid purchase because Thumper likely wouldn’t sit still long enough to ever be underneath it. I thought that since she spends most days outside or begging me to go outside, that she would relish the chance to spend a whole day at the beach where she could get as dirty as she wanted and chuck stones into the water for hours on end. Apparently none of this appealed to her, because she spent the entire time sitting on the towel under the umbrella. I almost checked to see if someone had super-glued her bum to the towel because I’ve never seen her sit still for so long. Ever. There were no sandcastles built. No gleeful splashing in the lake. No lazy walks in the sand collecting pretty rocks. And worst of all, we still managed to leave covered in sand. Which normally would be okay because you have such a good time that it’s worth it to spend the rest of the summer wiping sand out of your butt. But when all that happens at the beach is a series of tantrums related to fear of water, fear of wet sand and the fear of what could happen when you come out from under the umbrella, well then the sand stuck in my ass crack only serves a reminder of my wasted time and broken dreams.
And the week before the failed beach trip, we took Thumper to an amusement park. For the most part, this was a success. She (surprisingly) loved the teacup ride and had a blast getting to “drive” a car around a track all by herself. What she didn’t love was the carousel. After 20 minutes spent watching it go around and around, and screeching excitedly about the horses, I took her for her first ride, expecting her to giggle and squeal in delight. Instead I was met with screams of pure horror and a child who held onto me so tight I thought my insides would burst out from my eyeballs. So instead of sitting on one of the pretty little ponies, we sat in the little carriage thing, which is so not as cool.
I guess I can’t really blame my daughter for all of this. I suppose I was just getting ahead of myself with all my big plans for the summer and forgot that, although she can talk and walk and she drools way less than she did this time last year, she is still very little and it’s not really all that surprising that she scares so easily. What puzzles me about it, and obviously frustrates me, is that all of the things you think your child will love, they hate. And all the things you think they wouldn’t like or aren’t developmentally ready for yet, they can do and love.
Just a couple of months ago, Dawson and I had a fight because he let Thumper go down the stairs the normal way, as opposed to the baby way - going backwards. I argued that she was too little and too reckless of a walker (seriously – this girl walks into everything. Walls, tables, chairs, cats, other babies and so on.) but Dawson insisted she was ready for it. So I gave in, and knock on wood, she hasn’t taken a tumble yet and seems to know that she has to either hold onto the railing or hold our hands. And you all know how she feels about splash pads, which of course extends to sprinklers because let’s face it, a splash pad is just a fancy sprinkler system. I was so sure that Thumper would love frolicking through them, but alas, it was a love affair that was doomed from the start. Doomed because of that stupid law of parenting that says that whatever you want or expect your child to do or love, they won’t and will hate. I don’t know who made up this law, but I think they deserve a swift punch to the gut, or at the very least, several consecutive time-outs and no dessert.
It’s not like I wasn’t warned about this law. It’s not like I haven’t been experiencing it since the day Thumper was born. I just thought maybe there was another law that no one talked about that said that children would grow out of it once they became toddlers. I thought that maybe no one talked about it because if you did, then the law would become void and your punishment was to have to go back to having your child hate things they are supposed to love, and love things they’re supposed to hate. I’ve now realized that that’s not a law, but I definitely think that someone should work on making it one. I don’t know who that person would be. Maybe God, maybe Oprah. Maybe the wizard from the My Little Pony movie that helps the ponies get rid of the Smooze. Either way, it needs to happen, and happen fast. Otherwise I’ll have to give up on splash pads and the beach and quite frankly, I’m not sure I can survive that.