Toddler talk Metroplus

When mom is sick

I was recently down with one of these seasonal illnesses — aching sinuses, itchy throat, hacking cough — which ultimately ended with me completely losing my voice. Now, if you’ve never had the joy of developing laryngitis while caring for a toddler, let me tell you, it’s not fun. When you can barely talk over a whisper, you realise just how often in a day you have to:

— Say the same thing over and over and over again. “Put on your pants.” “Finish your milk.” “Put on your pants.” “Finish your food.” “Put on your pants.” “Drink your water.” “PUT ON YOUR PANTS!”

— Yell out in warning/panic. “Don't climb that bookshelf!” “Don’t jump off the bookshelf!” “Don't run! Wait for amma! WAIT!” “Don’t touch the hot vessel!” “No! Don't spill the... dammit!”

— Use your stern, 'no more arguments’ voice. “No chocolate before dinner.” “No chocolate for dinner.” “No more TV.” “Okay, one more episode, then NO MORE!” “No, you can't go out without pants.” “PUT ON YOUR PANTS!”

— Talk extra loud to make yourself heard over the noisy toys and cartoons, and your kid's loud singing/squealing.

Needless to say, none of the above has much effect when mom has no voice. It’s just too easy to ignore her weak croaks, and we all know how good toddlers are at ignoring instructions at the best of times. All that happens is that your throat hurts some more, and your patience wears thin extra fast.

Moms, of course, are experts at dragging themselves around when sick. Unless you’re in the high fever-and-delirium bracket, you’ll be up and about getting the kid to do all the stuff the kid’s got to do. Only, your energy levels are at a low ebb and so is your tolerance for toddler shenanigans. Your toddler, unfortunately, is blissfully unaware of the upcoming storm, and carries on as usual. Somewhere around the point when you’ve spent 15 minutes trying to coax the kid into the bathroom for her bath, and then in the last minute she yells, “No!” and turns tail and runs, you snap.

You grab the little arm or smack the little bottom. You shout uncontrollably (sore throat be damned). The child is screaming her lungs out. All hell has officially broken loose.

It never feels good to lose your temper with a toddler. Because when the defiance is gone, and she’s sobbing like that, she’s just your little baby again, and is looking all pitiful with her red nose and big, wet eyes. You’re feeling miserable (not in the least because yelling like that with laryngitis really, really hurts). And your toddler makes you feel monumentally worse by looking at you and saying sadly, “But I love you, amma!” (no one guilt trips better than a guilt-tripping toddler).

Then it’s time for the making up and the hugs and the kisses. And maybe, just maybe, a fairly uneventful bath for once. Or, more likely, it’s so late by this point that you just throw in the towel (literally and figuratively) and declare it to be “No bath day”.

You find yourself praying increasingly hard for patience as the day wears on, and you have to tussle and negotiate with your toddler every single step of the way. How, you wonder, did you get through all the months before this without going totally, utterly berserk? How?

At some stage, you give up altogether and just lay down on the couch/floor. The kid entertains herself by climbing all over you, and you’re too exhausted to care. This is the state daddy will probably find you both in when he arrives home, at which point the toddler is officially handed over to Daddy Daycare. Else, the grandparents/relatives brigade is summoned, and the kid is packed off for some pampering.

Either way, you’ve survived and will live to see another day. Hopefully, one in which you have a voice again. And more patience to spare.


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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 7:19:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/when-mom-is-sick/article6902308.ece

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