No, You’re bwoke! (AKA the Two Year Sleep Regression)
About 50 times a day my toddler insists on telling me that random things are “bwoke”. The difference between something being switched off and actually broken still eludes him. He expects a remedy nonetheless.
Last week, he did not sleep. He barely napped. He occasionally dozed at bedtime to recharge a little and then was back up, rampaging around the room in a overtired stupor until past midnight. When he finally passed out, he tossed and turned all night. Obviously he did not sleep in. How he found the energy to make it through the week I don’t know. The infamous two year sleep regression was hitting hard.
If he was tired during the days then I was practically comatose, stumbling through the daily routines. It was not a pleasant week. Yet another heatwave with excessive humidity was rolling through the city, adding to the abject misery of those sleepless nights and weary days. I’d step out for some evening air to lull the fighting toddler to sleep in his sling, only it resulted in both of us irritable and slippery with sweat. If he nodded off, he woke as soon I set foot on the apartment porch.
The next week he returned to more normal nocturnal habits. This was a necessity, for how else could he fuel the turbo-charged tantrums and endless whining he wished to engage in? It’s still early days as he hasn’t yet reached two years old, but the terrible twos are most definitely upon us. Tremble in fear.
I’ve been here before. The constant whining. The emotional rollercoaster that never ends. The irrational demands. The utter weariness of dealing with, and absorbing the unchecked feelings of a child who has nowhere else to offload them. He flings himself to the ground dramatically to weep and wail yet again and I (just about) resist the urge to join him. The days turn into battlefields and carnage ensues.
I hadn’t forgotten the difficulty of managing the emotions of a toddler. Yet the constant incidents with his older brother –who is also stubborn and resentful of not having sole custody of all the toys– is a battle on a scale much higher than before. Too often I’m caught in the middle as both scream in anger and frustration, their faces red masks of fury. Floods of tears are wiped on my body even as they both push each other away from comfort, still engaged in their eternal fight for that which the other may want. They are each other’s worst enemy.
The assault on my senses is devastating. If they’re not running around shouting while they play, then I’m being hit with waves of whinging that simmer into screams of rage and fury. Occasionally there’s a lull while they stuff their faces with food. I wallow in the brief silence trying to memorise the sound of nothingness. I will struggle to hold on to this feeling for the rest of the day as my brain falls to pieces under the onslaught.
It’s not all tears and chaos. The fun and joy of this toddler period remains. Wobbly runs around the room. Giggles and belly-laughs at the absurdity of life. Awe and delight at discovering the world and how it works. A waking toddler who immediately recites his entire vocabulary list and applauds himself, delighted at his accomplishment. The standalone words are growing into mangled fragments of sentences. His pride swells to fill the room when he makes himself understood. We’re learning his language just as he’s learning ours.
All the firsts of a young child stepping on the path towards his teenage years are also passing by fast. Wobbly teeth. Gummy grins. The first swing of the bat at his first team game. The stammering sounding-out of letters on a page are followed by puzzlement and growing excitement as the sounds jumble into a familiar word.
Sometimes it’s hard to notice and appreciate the special moments that are happening to each child, during days that are filled with noise and activity and demands. This is the disadvantage of having more than one child to give attention to at the same time. There are also many advantages to life with a sibling though. At this age they can never be truly lonely. For brief parts of the day the two coexist in peace and are full of love for each other. They are each other’s best friend.
For now I breathe in the break from the drama. The child picks apart his sandwich and eats it, one shred at a time. Crusts are left discarded in a pile. The toddler flings toast at me announcing that it is ‘bwoke’. He gestures impatiently. I carefully realign the edges so that they exactly match before returning it to his waiting hand. He nods his approval before taking a delicate bite.
No kid, the rest of the world isn’t bwoke right now. It’s you. You’re bwoke.