It’s 4:15pm, Tuesday, November 3rd, and I’m sweating and shaking and, if I weren’t sober, I’d be plugging down multiple bottles of wine. Instead, I’m scarfing all the leftover Halloween candy from our untouched plastic pumpkin stuffed with full-size candy bars. Incidentally, just 2 days ago in the calm before the storm, I was berating my husband for this, to which, he retorted: “Full size candy bars. No bullshit here. We will always be the cool house on the block, babe.” And right now, on my 2nd Three Musketeers, I love him for that.
I will not watch the news today. I have made myself a Self Care promise to avoid the news. I voted. My job is done. I can’t take the All Day Steve Kornaki or however you spell his name polling conversation on MSNBC. I don’t think I can even take my pretend girlfriend Rachel Maddow today. Today I will not watch TV. I’m terrified. But I’m not watching the car crash.
But no. I’m not downing chocolate as substitute for wine because of the election.
It’s the Toddler. Capital T.
Huck is 2 1/2 years old and sometime around the turning back of the clocks where he decided napping was passé, and a pretty easy first weekend of Potty Training (at least in terms of Peeing on the Potty), he let loose with the demon inside. Full Storm Toddler woke up inside our sweet-faced baby boy, letting loose a scream of terror and anger so powerful I was almost impressed. I mean, I get a good angry cry. I have rage issues of my own. But this was more than I’d ever experienced.
Today, a sharp-toothed, clawing dragon of a boy refused to leave the playground, throwing himself on the astroturf ground in a crowd of polite strangers, gently backing away and throwing me knowing looks. Screaming, pounding his fists. I leaned down, “We have to go home to Daddy, Huck,” I whispered in a moment of breathing between roars. And then he would say, snot running all down his neck, “I walk I walk I walk.” I backed off. He stood up. I went for his hand and he went running and screaming away from me in the direction of an oncoming swing. I grabbed him just in time and a blood curdling sound came from his chest as if my arms were gunshots. “Nooooooooooooooooooooooo! I walk I walk I walk.” I trusted him and put him down and he flopped again on his belly screaming and crying. I pick him up. He kicks at me and throws his arms around so that I swear I’m possibly bruising him with my grip. I put him down after he promises and we do the whole dance again.
I finally just pick him up kicking and walk out of the park, everyone staring at me, probably considering calling child services, as I try to keep my face serene while I’m sweating through every stitch of clothing. It’s all I can do to not throw him into the car. I put him in the seat. He violently squirms out of it. I try again. He gets out again. I literally was standing in the backseat of the car, one arm holding him down, trying to force his arms through the straps of the car seat, while trying to keep a calm voice saying “it’s all right, Huck. I know, you’re angry, you’re scared. Mommy needs to get you home to Daddy,” and all the while all I want to do is throw a tantrum like my kid and scream “Uncle” at the top of my ragged lungs.
I give up. I breathe. I try again. The screaming has not for a decibel decreased in volume for 10 minutes. It’s constant like the wind. My ears are numb. I’ve soaked my shirt. I’m collapsed in the back seat of the Prius reminding myself that I have to be the one that regulates my 2 year old’s overwhelming emotions, and trying to not think that I probably lacked in a bit of self regulation myself as recently as this morning. I’m at the end of the proverbial rope, when my son finally capitulates and his limbs go loose and I can get him safely in the seat so I can drive 5 blocks to home.
Less than 5 minutes later, home, he’s still crying and screaming. My husband comes out of the house. I’ve gotten the beast, still snotting and screaming, out of the car and he runs to Daddy, who hoists him to his shoulder and exhales and lays his beautiful head on my husband’s shoulders and stops crying.
I hate them both. Assholes.
Oh. There’s also the Trump flags flying on almost every single house on my street in this suburban conservative non-community. The place where we could afford a large enough home for our family. The place way outside of like-minded people. Our house is a home. Our neighborhood is not. And today feels like the quiet before the storm with so many jacked up Fords flying Trump flags out their confederate-stickered flatbeds.
Let’s just say we have entered the era of which I had been warned. The Terrible Twos. It coincided with Election Day in definitely the most vitriolic atmosphere of my lifetime; a Pandemic where we have been isolated from any sense of community for 9 months; potty training; Daylight Savings Time; earlier darkness; my med change which is making me a bit nutty and depressed; and … well … just the rest of life on life’s terms.
If I wasn’t sober I’d be drunk.
How long does this period last and can I tag out?