I was worried when Robby turned two. I had heard stories about the "Terrible Twos." I fully expected the year to be wrought with conflict, power struggles and a perpetual headache. Much to my delight, we breezed through his second year with few issues. My confidence as a mother soared. I thought that I had raised the "perfect little toddler" who was curious yet obedient. Yes, for a brief moment in time I was basking in the knowledge that I was Supermom.
Then, as if his behavior was synched to the calendar, Robby turned three. Almost immediately Robby Rotten reared his disobedient and stubborn head. After a year of living with the threat that, at a moments notice Robby Rotten will emerge, I have begun to question my parenting abilities.
I have abandoned my "Supermom" ideals. After all, Robby has been so obstinate about using the toilet that he actually tried to stop all of his bowel movements for six months! We fluctuate between my "good little eater" and the little hellion stomping through the house while screaming "I want ice cream with candy eyes for breakfast." He was delayed talking because we didn't realize he had a hearing issue. I no longer hold any "Mommy of the year" aspirations. Through the past year, my parenting confidence has evaporated, leaving me a mere puddle of my former self.
There is little wonder that we now purchase Tylenol at Costco. I used to think, "Who needs 500 tablets?" Since the advent of Robby Rotten, we are currently working our way through the second bottle.
I was at my mom's this past weekend. I thought that Robby was relatively well behaved. Apparently, my expectations have been distorted. This morning, my Mom surprised me with homemade blueberry muffins for breakfast. Then she broached the dreaded, "I think Robby may be on the verge of becoming a brat" conversation.
In retrospect, I should not have been surprised by this discussion. Robby Rotten was in the middle of a fit, demanding "chippies and dip" for breakfast. He was demanding, rude and just plain grumpy. I don't blame my Mom for voicing her concern. She also explained that this is a stage, but reinforced that I needed to remain strong. I know that she is right.
Because the weather was beautiful, I promised Robby that we would stop at the beloved Animal Park on the way home. Truth be told, I was looking forward to fresh air and letting him run around for an hour or so. I was hoping that the exercise would tucker him out so that he would sleep in past 6:00 AM.
The zoo workers all know Robby. He was a member of the "Junior Zoo Keepers" program last year, where he learned how to care for a variety of the animals. When he entered, he saw one of his favorite employees, Linda. He went over to Linda and gave her a hug, and she told him that she was glad to see him, because they had "Work to do."
"Hooray! Momom, bye bye. There is a lot of work to do." Robby tossed his cone of food over his shoulder into the goat pen, and he took off. I assumed my position of following behind at a distance, allowing him to be independent but close enough to reign in Robby Rotten should he appear.
Linda was providing orientation around the park to a little blind boy named Jamie. She introduced Robby and explained that Jamie could not see. Robby screamed to me, "Momom, little boys eye's don't work." I had hoped that he would have demonstrated more sensitivity towards the disability instead of screeching it across the park at the top of his lungs. I suppose decorum is not a skill known by toddlers.
Although I was embarrassed by Robby's introduction to Jamie, my mortification quickly morphed into pride. Robby could not have been a better instructor. Under Linda's guidance, Robby took Jamie's hand and walked him around the park. He talked about the animals and encouraged Jamie to touch them. Robby reassured him that everything was okay, and that the animals were nice.
Two two little boys went up and down the stalls, exploring each occupant's area. Robby even passed up the beloved wagon ride, opting to stay with Jamie. He was patient and understanding as he seemed to understand the limitations of his new friend's blindness. I overheard Robby warning Jamie to stay away from the emu, explaining that the emu steals Binkys. (The large bird pecked the Binkie out of Robby's mouth two summer's ago and Robby has hated him ever since!)
After the tour was concluded, Robby led Jamie to playground. The two little boys climbed and slid. They were giggling and having a blast. I encouraged Robby to take Jamie into the moon bounce. (Most blind children love bouncing and spinning. The movement stimulates the optic nerve, causing them to "see" stars.)
Robby led Jamie to the moon bounce and had him sit down. He directed his little friend to take off his shoes, and then the two entered the moon bounce hand in hand. It was such an endearing sight!
The two boys began to bounce. And bounce. And continued bouncing until Jamie's parents magically appeared and summoned him to leave. Robby gave his friend a hug and told him that it was a "beautiful sunny day" and that they will "play and bounce again my buddy."
It seems that, just when my confidence as a mother cannot get any lower, Robby does something to boost my belief in myself. He accepted Jamie's disability and tailored his activities to suit the needs of his new friend. Robby never asked to leave or to participate in a different activity. He didn't see Jamie as a blind boy who needed a caretaker. He simply saw Jamie as a little friend with whom he could play, laugh and bounce. I am so incredibly proud of my little boy!
I know that at any time Robby Rotten may rear his mischievous head. I have no doubt that my little toddler and I will continue to engage in a power struggle of epic proportions. Much to his chagrin, and despite what I'm sure will be a valiant effort on his part, I am confident that I will win.
For now, at this moment, I am allowing myself a brief reprieve from my "Mommy doubts." Robby showed himself to be a patient, loving and sensitive child. These are all attributes that I value, and I know that I must be doing at least some things right!
- I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.