Olivia, you were supposed to be my calm, peaceful child. The child that when you hear complete silence go looking for them in a panic, expecting to find a complete disaster of a room, but are instead delighted to discover that they’ve been pouring over the carefully curated library of children’s books you’ve amassed for their benefit. And when you make eye contact, give you a content smile and continue reading on, allowing you to slip back to whatever room you came for and enjoy quiet time.
That was my hope. My dream. However unrealistic it may have been. I earned my quiet child, damn it. AJR, while delightful in so many ways, was a physically exhausting baby, toddler, and now, threenager. Even in utero I assumed he must be practicing to perform an Italian version of Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance with as much as he moved. He hasn’t slowed down since.
When I became pregnant with baby #2 I assumed that there is no way God could be so cruel as to curse me with two energetic children. Even AJR’s daycare joked that they hoped for my sake (and probably theirs too) that this baby would be much calmer. Olivia lulled me into a false sense of security. Her movements were so infrequent that I took to jabbing my belly every few hours to receive a “knock it off!” kick that reassured me she was still in there. Once she was born, I watched her carefully for signs that might exhibit some of her brother’s cray cray. A first time parent can’t wait for their baby to roll, crawl, and eventually walk. A second time parent has wised the hell up and realized that you need to revel in the blob stage and cherish the time when you can plop them on a blanket, leave the room, and come back to find them in the exact same spot.
In the beginning, Olivia was a calm little lady. Content watching her brother’s antics and being entertained by the world around her. Then 8 months hit and holy shit. Olivia could crawl. Move independently. Climb furniture like a mountain goat. Wreak havoc on unbabyproofed cabinets. The refrain around our house, which ever AJR says now is BABY ON THE MOVE. Understatement. Of. The. Year. Once she’s finally asleep for the night I breathe a sigh of relief and face plant on the couch in exhaustion completely unbothered by the episode of Paw Patrol that AJR has zombied out to. Watching her day in and day out is like trying to hold onto a watermelon slathered in baby oil with one arm pinned behind your back.
So yeah, I’ve come to the conclusion that I can only birth Tasmanian Devils.
Not like I needed further evidence of this fact, but this weekend was definitely the nail in the coffin. I took the kids to a birthday party for my friend’s 1-year old daughter. I had to fly solo, which wasn’t a big deal. I’ve been punching my “things i can do by myself with two kids” BINGO card and I think “tackle a children’s birthday party” was one of the few that I haven’t marked off yet.
Initially, Olivia clung to me like a terrified koala. I even joked to another party-goer with a playful roll of my eyes “Oh geez. I bet she’ll be like this the entire time!” Sigh. If only…
After five minutes, she wanted to get down. For most kids, they might squirm a tad bit or make cute little noises of protestation. Not Olivia. The only way out is to suddenly kamikaze out of my arms, dive bombing for the ground below her. From the moment her feet touched the ground, my butt never saw a chair for more than 30 seconds the rest of the afternoon. Here is how the party progressed by the numbers:
- 327: number of times someone made a “oh boy! She’s a handful!” or “She has so much energy!” or related comment
- 136: number of laps walked around the party hall
- 42: number of times she slapped a kid on the head and laughed
- 11: number of times she pulled the birthday girl’s bow off her head
- 8: number of times she made a beeline for the men’s bathroom
- 5: number of times she put her mouth on a trashcan
- 3: hours of this that I had to endure in which my legs began to go numb with fatigue and the sweat trickled down my back slowly as I made yet another “She better sleep well tonight!” comment (spoiler alert: she was still up at 5am because of course)
- 1: time I checked to make sure that AJR was still alive.
- 0: votes received for Mom of the Year
Despite the amount of sugar that both kids ingested, both of them passed out in the car on the way home and I spent a blissful 45 minutes sitting in my driveway enjoying the stillness and ignoring the fact that I hadn’t peed in four hours and really really needed to go.
It’s not only that Olivia’s energetic, because she is, it’s that she also enjoys putting herself in perilous situations. She is a crazy climber in a way that her brother never was. She recently figured out how to climb onto our couch and her new game is running back and forth on it while I ineffectually yell “BOTTOMS DOWN!” I honestly thought that falling headfirst over the side of the couch would have deterred her but she cried harder when I put a baby gate around the couch than when her dome made contact with the hardwood floor.
Her favorite place is to be is where she’s currently not at that moment. There is no sitting and cuddling with mom. Up. Then down. Up. Then down. Then in another room. And then back to the previous room. I’ve had to jerry rig the baby gate leading up to the bedrooms several times because she keeps figuring out how to open it. The kid can’t use a spoon masterfully yet, but she’s able to pick a gate that befuddles most adults. We’re trying to teach her how to go down the stairs properly, but either she’s not a quick study or she is refusing to learn because that would be too practical and safe. Either way, it led to an epic tumble one day that looked a whole lot like this:
She can hear the sound of the dishwasher opening from a mile away and comes a-running as fast as those stumpy legs will take her. Of all the items in the dishwasher, she heads straight for the knives. Sharp ones. Toddlers are terrifying, but toddlers with weapons are downright diabolical.
Cabinets are made for opening and emptying. Ruby’s dog bowls are merely her playthings to be dumped with zero effs given. High chairs are made for standing. Paper towels are made to be unraveled and ripped to shreds. Toilets are unsanitary sensory bins. Garbage cans are full of wonderful delights that absolutely have to be tasted. My house constantly looks like someone robbed us and turned the place upside down looking for our valuables. Nope, just Olivia in action.
She is so determined to not sit still that shopping with her in the cart is impossible. Now I have to do Target runs with her in the stroller, which severely limits the amount of things I buy that I don’t need but come home with me anyway. Hm, maybe her dad has been training her behind my back….
Olivia is a spitfire. She’s tough. She’s determined. She’s curious. She’s fearless. These are all qualities I admire and ones I hope she continues to exhibit as she grows older, although maybe a little less so in the teenage years. I had my hopes set for a “chill” baby but when you consider who her mother is it’s not at all surprising that she constantly vibrates with energy except when she’s sleeping.
For now, I’ll try to appreciate the fact that herding my little raptor is great for extra calorie burn and pray that her hair starts growing a little faster so it can conceal the bumps, cuts, and bruises she sprouts almost daily.