It took awhile to adjust to being home with Xavi in a new place. The longest I had been alone with Xavi prior to this was a week when we were in between daycare options in Los Angeles. Back there, his grandmother or his aunt might stop by for a visit or, when it got rough, I could just tell myself, “It’s only for a week.” Now it’s just Xavi and I in a new place for who knows how long.
I think I’ve gotten pretty good at anticipating Xavi but as soon as he starts talking, I’m sure he’ll tell you that I’m far from perfect. I started keeping track of certain rules and guidelines when it comes to dealing with him, mostly to keep myself sane. Just in case we get a babysitter and s/he asks, “Is there anything I need to know?”
I’m sure a lot of these apply to most toddlers but I’ve only watched Xavi in my life so allow me the indulgence.
Exit Strategy. Don’t give him anything to play with unless you are willing to wait until he moves onto something else or willing to deal with the tantrum that will ensue.
The Mufasa Doctrine. When Xavi goes to a place that has communal toys, he operates under the belief that every toy the light touches is in his kingdom. He will play with something and lose interest in it until another kid comes along to play with it. There is a look that Xavi gets in his eyes that lets me know I’m going to have to intervene before he plots returning that toy to his kingdom.
Hey, I Was Watching That! Just because I’m not watching the television or am not even in the same room as the television doesn’t mean you can turn it off. Once the TV is on, it must remain on until I leave the house or I fall asleep.
Mommy is the Queen of Comedy. If Cindy and I do the exact thing, Xavi will laugh at Cindy like he’s about to ask her for a huge favor and I will get the toddler-equivalent of “That’s so funny.” Cindy is a lot better at being silly with Xavi. My playing with him revolves around voices and physical roughhouse.
The Floor Is Lava. I’m sure there is actual science behind this but when we are trying to get him to sleep no matter how hard he squirms or complains, you cannot let him touch the floor. Once his feet hit the ground, all the work you’ve done to wear him down goes out the window. The sleep train gets switched on to the track to Play Town and you have to start all over.
Floor >>> Plate. Xavi will reject food to the point where I’m willing to cut my losses and throw it away or eat it myself. But if I accidentally drop some (or more likely, he slaps it out of my hand), he will try to taste the food that hit the floor. I would have a better chance of getting him to eat if I just put his dinner on the floor without a plate. (Not that I’ve considered doing that. No, really.)
Better Apart Than Together. Just because I like pasta and I like cheese doesn’t mean I’ll like Mac and Cheese. Just because I love bread and I love cheese doesn’t mean I will like a grilled cheese sandwich.
Silence Is Not Golden. Now that we’ve been in this apartment for a couple of months, I can tell what Xavi is doing if we are in different rooms based on the sounds he’s making with his toys or his mouth. When I don’t hear anything, he’s getting into some sort of trouble. If Xavi is being really quiet, it means he’s trying something new and it requires all his concentration. Unless he’s pooping of course which also requires a certain level of concentration.
The Window. Xavi is not one of those kids who you will find asleep in their room or mid-activity all of the sudden (I actually fantasize about that). Two years in, getting Xavi to sleep takes work (more so when I’m alone then when we’re both home) but when he does fall asleep, it’s totally worth it. When Xavi goes down for his nap, I have a one hour window (it’s two hours when he goes to bed at night) to do whatever you want without waking him up. You can watch a loud action movie, vacuum, practice juggling pots and pans and he won’t budge. After that window passes, anything you do carries a certain risk of ending your well-earned break. When we go out in the morning and he falls asleep on the way home, I get bummed because I’m losing valuable do nothing time.