Day 21 / by Vanessa Fiola

**The next 9 days I'll be posting 500 words a day here as part of a creative writing challenge. Join the FB group.”

My favorite thing is how I spent a considerable amount of space last night talking about this challenge and how I love the structure blah blah. Tonight, I fell asleep again putting my son to bed and woke up at midnight and I’m now cursing this my choices. If I hadn’t made such a big deal of it last night, I could have quietly skipped tonight and enjoyed eight uninterrupted hours of sleep. 

I have sad news on the At-At walker front. I got home around 9 tonight. There is a particular mood my son gets in where I know it will not end well from the moment I walk in the door. The tell is that he runs around boundlessly, and if you ask him for a hug he falls limp and protests. Its nature is unpredictable but typically means it’s going to be a long night. He is on a mission to wreck havoc. So I finally corralled him and got his teeth brushed. When it was time to climb in to bed he kept getting up and running out into the living room. He pretends like this is funny. I find my child hilarious 90 percent of the time, but this is a schtick I can’t get behind. A friend of mine taught me to implement the concept of choices. For example, asking when he is running around with abandon: are you making good choices right now? No he is not making good choices right now. 

In a fit of exasperation, I told him that I am taking the At-At walker off the table. It would no longer matter if he sleeps by himself one night or ten more nights. He isn’t making good choices, and the option is gone. I instantly recognized my declaration as impetuous but felt caught between following through and the importance of consistency, or walking it back. Writing about it now, afterwards, I am embarrassed. A deep well of patience is always available in retrospect. But in the moment, I had to get up at 5:30 this morning, I went from a busy day of work, to thick, rainy LA traffic, to a fun dinner with my other partners but one that put me home at 9pm. By the time I got home I still had my 500 words to write, and I also had some additional work to complete. In other words, ain’t nobody got time for toddlering. 

Parenting is hard. 

Which is not to say that lots and lots of people don’t have opinions about it, probably because everyone’s had parents. One of my best friends sent me this post a few days ago. I do not know the owner of this IG account, but I feel pretty confident she does not have a toddler. It took my own ball of genetic karma to realize that parental approach does not live in a vacuum. It is the sum of events, contextualized within the present moment, your day, your child’s day, your week, your life, epigenetics and a whole host of other factors which lie beneath the surface, including the biology of hormonal surges present in the toddler years. The meme may in fact have truth, though. Surely, this is true at least some of the time. It's just hard to hear past the smug.