Does your child have you popping Advil like E.T. with a sackful of Reese’s Pieces?
Have you been reduced to a quivering ball of stress after finally wishing your child goodnight?
Do you have a sudden thought that you want your kid gone — just gone — coupled with crippling guilt at even thinking such a thing?
Then perhaps you’re suffering from Toddleritis, a very real but treatable — even curable — mental exhaustion created by a myriad of exotic and commonplace actions and behaviors.
Possible Toddleritis causes include:
- Your toddler purposely pouring a bowl filled to the brim with milk and cereal on herself, her high chair and the floor forcing you to clean her up, do a load of laundry, scrub the floor and vacuum the carpet all while she wails to the where she sounds like she’s barking like a seal.
- Your toddler refuses to eat for some unknown reason, pushing away all food and utensils and crying as if you’d threatened to never let her see that clip of “Let It Go” from Frozen again.
- Your toddler decides not to nap and instead sits in her crib intermittently whimpering and talking to herself as you try to read or watch a television program or get some work done.
- Your toddler poops during nap time and because she’s rebuffed sleep, her inability to stay still allows the poop to seep through her diaper all over her clothes, sleep sack, sheets and stuffed animals forcing you, once again, to the laundry room.
- Your toddler keeps climbing on bookcases, tables and anything she can reach despite the number of times you’ve asked/told her not to do so because it’s dangerous.
- Your toddler decides nothing will do for dinner except “Puffs!” which she screams repeatedly until she gets them
- Your toddler wakes up in the middle of the night screaming for daddy and after you wait the required 5 minutes to see if she’ll fall back asleep, you go in, hold her, sing to her, rock her until she falls asleep in your arms looking precious – so precious – but a half hour later when you try to put her back in her crib, she reawakens and starts crying again forcing you to do everything all over again and wonder if you’ll ever get back to your own bed.
And it’s very possible all of these things happened on the same day!
Toddleritis symptoms may include:
- Extreme physical, emotional and mental fatigue.
- A wish to tear your hair out and run down the hallway yelling incomprehensible words and phrases.
- Severe back pain, most likely from wrenching it while preventing your toddler from grabbing something she’s not supposed to touch.
- An inability to sleep or at least sleep well enough to function.
- As reported above, a desire for your toddler to disappear instantly followed by oppressive guilt.
- An urge to strangle Elmo (though that could also be an ordinary feeling).
The good news is that Toddleritis can be treated and the disease has numerous cures.
Perhaps a loved one is willing to take your toddler off your hands for a night or even a few hours allowing you much needed alone, sleep and/or spousal time. It’s possible your spouse will “give you a day off” allowing you to meet up with some friends, watch something like The Wolf of Wall Street and then debate Matthew Perry preparing to write and play Oscar Madison in a remake of the beloved sitcom, The Odd Couple (as Darth Vader so famously said, “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!”). If no loved ones are around, you can maybe pay a babysitter an exorbitant, yet well-deserved wad of bills so you and your spouse can have a wonderful date night.
All of those can work, but the best and most effective treatments are the following:
- Your toddler does something hilarious like finally answering “Braaains!” along with a throaty laugh when asked what a zombie says (OK, I’m weird).
- Your toddler runs into your arms and gives you a warm hug.
- Your toddler gives you a look that melts your heart.
- Your toddler smiles, jumps up and down and says, “Daddy!” when you walk through the door.
Toddleritis can be a serious condition, but rest assured, it won’t last forever. At any moment your toddler might exhibit such glorious glee at the most run-of-the-mill thing that your body swells with pride and love. In essence, your toddler might all of a sudden look like this:
And how could you feel anything but enchantment when faced with a moment like that?
A version of this post recently appeared on Lorne’s blog, Raising Sienna.