Really leaning into this two-year-old gig

Our childminder, who I affectionately call Mary Poppins, has nearly two decades of experience caring for children, and last week, Dexter rendered her speechless.

Let me back up.

We had a rough morning.

Dexter frequently likes to resist whatever is happening next in the day. Every single morning, he at least once but usually several times, tells us, “No go Mary Poppins,” and then he goes there, has a wonderful day, and then when Matt picks him up, resists coming home (“No go home”) about half the time. I’d say he’s infuriating, but it’s been variations of that theme since I’ve returned to work, so for nearly two months straight. At this point, it’s just part of the day.

Except for the days like Friday, when his levels of contrary are off the charts.

This is a photo from a bad day. I can tell because his pajamas are peeking out from under that shirt.

Dexter decided that morning he did not want to wear a clean diaper. When Matt removed his dirty diaper anyway, Dex melted down. He tried to open up the (disgusting) diaper bin to remove the soiled diaper so that we would ostensibly put it back onto his body. We were really dealing in some top notch toddler logic, gang. The diaper thing is new, but he’s resisted getting dressed before, and a couple of times, poor Mary Poppins has had Dexter deposited at her house wearing just a shirt, or in bare feet. Things went so badly Friday that he showed up in just his (clean, I promise) diaper.

When I was on the train, Matt and I got a text from Mary Poppins. She assured us he was dressed, and added that she asked him if he already had on sun cream. Apparently, Dexter matter-of-factly informed her that yes, he has sun cream on his penis, and carried on playing.

The childminder said she had no idea what to say to that. NO ONE knows what to say to that.

And that’s Dexter, right now, in a story.

Thursday, I worked from home and on my lunch break, headed over to Mary Poppins’ to nurse Theo. I ended up staying almost the whole hour while the childminder and I swapped stories and information – since Matt does pickup and dropoff, I never really get to chat with her.

Our boys are good boys. Theo doesn’t nap much for her, either, but he’s just as strong and sunny as he is at home.

And Dexter is a toddler tornado.

Dr. Dexter says your heart goes, “Blub, blub.”

He is amazing. I love spending time with Dex and talking to him and hearing him tell us about his day. His vocabulary is huge and he learns so quickly you can witness it happening, live. He still loves books and turns everything into a slide for his cars, even his mom’s leg. Dexter now plays with imagined items – he’ll make me a pretend pizza or build an invisible Christmas tree or send an imaginary bird flying through the air. He fibs – uh, like about penis sun cream – but the childminder believes it’s more of an expression of imagination than maliciousness and I agree. Dex is a storyteller, and also an engineer and a negotiator and at long last, he is finally starting to appreciate the value of a snuggle. Mary Poppins says everywhere she takes him, other adults are amazed by how independent and charming he is.

But he is also frustrating. No one will ever call my kid laid-back. Dex has opinions about everything, including the order in which everything needs to occur, and he’s stubborn about that order to the degree that I genuinely wonder if this is normal two-year-old stuff or maybe the first signs of some sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Heaven help you if you squirt toothpaste on his toothbrush but forgot to let him open the tube, or skip a page in a book, or set him on the third step when it’s time to go upstairs. Dexter will walk backwards down to the bottom so he can go up all the steps, properly. Dr. Google is most unhelpful in this diagnosis, by the way, so Matt and I exist in this constant state of negotiation, deciding on the fly when to give in and when to dig in and trying to eke some behavioural consistency out of the unpredictability that is our Dex.

This was actually an adorable photo of Dex and his “best friend forever,” but I don’t know her parents well enough to ask if they’re ok with her face on my blog so I had to crop her out.

He’s not even two and a half years old, yet.

Sometimes, people like to tell me that the terrible twos are a myth, and age three is the real trouble. I like to imagine punching those people in the neck while I roll my eyes and respond, “Dear God, I hope you’re wrong.”

Mary Poppins thinks it all stems from Dexter being bright. Her plan is to challenge him more, really up the level of his play so he’s enlivened and inspired.

Of course, Mary Poppins didn’t calmly explain to Dexter no fewer than 10 times that no, his parents are not willing to tape a soiled diaper back onto his tiny nude body. She also probably gets more than 4 hours of sleep in a row.

Dexter has befriended a decal in the window of the furniture store near the childminder’s house. It’s an anthromorphized sofa. Every time we walk or drive by, Dexter waves and delightedly calls, “Hi, blue sosa!”

That is also Dexter, right now, in a story. So lovable and bursting with imagination, he made friends with a sofa decal. Dex is hard work but boy, is he ever worth it.

P.S. All the photos in this post are taken by Mary Poppins, the quick pics she sends us throughout the day so we can see how the kids are doing. I told you she’s wonderful.

I know this post is mostly about Dex. I just think this photo of Theo is a work of art.

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4 Comments

  1. All very typical kid behavior. Not every child goes through that level of tenacity but it’s a blessing and Tully and Matt are doing this parenting thing just right. Theo may be completely different. And that will be perfectly fine too.

    1. I’ll take your word for it but I should tell you that today, his sunglasses fell off of his head while he was getting out of his car seat so he had to back up, sit back down in the seat and have me replace the sunnies before he could get out of the car. I don’t know what he would have done if he had to climb down and get them himself!

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