30 Seconds for Hope – Two-year-old Charlie dangled upside down from the top of the sofa—yet in a split-second he was catapulting to the floor and racing down the hallway, banging his fists. Turning to point his finger at me, he yelled, “Bang! I shot you!” “Charlie, we don’t shoot people—not even pretend,” I retorted. Ignoring me, he kicked his teddy bear and ran on. My super-active child’s endless jumping, throwing, wrecking, banging, and tantrums threatened my sanity. At times I wondered, Will I survive? Does anyone understand my life? To my joy, I discovered that yes, other moms understood, or at least some of them did. Others were making it, which inspired me to believe that I could survive, too. And I did. And so can you!
And now the full story:
Hi moms! Do you have an active child? Over and over moms tell me stories about the unbelievable activity level of their child. Often they are incredulous themselves and therefore wonder if anyone else will believe their tales. Well, I believe you! When I had a super-active boy, just knowing someone understood was a big help. That’s why I want to tell you some of my stories in the form of a composite day in the life of my Charlie when he was two…
A Sample Day in the Life of a Super-Active Two-Year-Old
“This is so unreal!” I exclaimed to myself as I stopped my son’s arm mid-air, thwarting his hurl of a rock. Going outside had seemed like such a good idea after the morning’s breakfast fiasco. Charlie’s banana had accidentally broken as he was pealing it, resulting in a predictable meltdown. I’d pleaded, “Each part tastes the same!” His screaming continued. “Let’s pretend this piece is an airplane.” I’d swooped a banana chunk through the air toward his mouth, but he’d thrown his head back and screamed louder. You can’t reason with a two-year-old, my objective-self reminded me.
So when the tantrum had calmed, I’d decided to take the kids outside so the two-year-old could run off some steam. We’d tried to play a follow-the-leader game with his four-year-old brother, John. But of course a two-year-old can’t truly follow the leader, so his steam had morphed into ceaseless rock throwing, with both house and our bodies at risk. Now as Charlie picked up another rock, I stopped his arm mid-air, snatched the rock, and led the boys inside.
John settled onto the sofa to listen to a cassette of read-along stories, and I carried Charlie to a chair by me in the kitchen. Shielded with a plastic apron, he splashed water in a dishpan while I washed the morning’s bowls. Dishes done, I wiped the table, but the countertop by the sink had become a flood from all the hyper splashes. At least I’ll have a clean countertop, I consoled myself as I wiped up the mess.
“Let’s go to the bedroom and get some clothes to wash,” I prodded, hoping my words would sound more inspired than I felt. The hyper one took me up on the offer and ran ahead to the bedroom. For a few seconds he helped me load dirty shirts into the laundry basket, but then his short attention span dictated a new direction. He sprinted to the living room where his brother had begun a Lego fortress. Impulsively kicking through the Legos, Charlie jumped onto the couch.
“Help, Mom!” John screamed.
Speed-walking to the living room with basket in hand, I arrived to see Charlie “The Two-Year-Old Acrobat” somersaulting from couch to floor, once again as usual. Since the Lego problem still needed to be addressed, I reflexively commanded “Charlie, come here.” But even though I was just five feet away, he ignored me. Now I had two problems to address—the Lego problem (hyperactive impulsiveness) and the “hard-of-hearing” problem (attention deficit). Which one should I choose? I picked Legos. I stooped down inches from his eyes to admonish him to give an apology. Does he get it? I wondered.
As I turned to revisit my laundry mission, I glanced back to see Charlie, now upside down, hanging from the top of the sofa. In the next split-second he catapulted to the floor and raced down the hallway, banging his fist on the wall as he went. Turning to see me, he pointed his finger and yelled, “Bang! I shot you!”
I retorted, “Charlie, we don’t shoot people—not even pretend!” Ignoring me with a pirouette, he took off toward his bedroom, kicking a teddy bear out of its repose as he went.
Sigh. Will the action never end? I thought.
One day toward the end of that two-year-old year, I took initiative to reach out for some understanding. I called my friend Debbie, and amazingly, within hours this mother of five arrived—alone!—to offer some empathy. (Many thanks to her husband!) As Debbie heard me vent about the events of that day—and weeks and months—all she did was listen and nod her head. Yes, Charlie was active. Super-active. Yes, it was hard. But most importantly, yes, I would make it. I wouldn’t go crazy from activity. Other mothers faced similar days.
I loved my child, but I needed someone to offer some understanding and perspective. Debbie gave that to me, plus a big helping of affirmation. I began to understand that even though I made plans and pursued daily goals, in reality I only needed to live each minute as it came and just manage the moment.
Her visit gave me hope.
As I tucked Charlie into bed that night, I silently thanked God that he had given me this boy. In spite of all the training, correction, and frustrations, Charlie was a valuable child. “Charlie, you are terrific,” I said and kissed him goodnight, pulling up his little quilt. Walking toward the door, I glanced back to the sight of my hyper boy impulsively kicking off covers and bolting upright.
And so I stopped to lovingly instruct my son once again in this new moment that I was managing. Mommy-hood was hard but my child was precious, and I would make it. It felt good to have some hope. “Good night, Charlie.”
Are you in that place of wondering whether anyone understands? Or even believes you?
Yes, others do. I do.
Your life is hard—sometimes incredibly, impossibly hard. But you can survive each day—one moment at a time. Someday the action will end and your house will be quiet, as mine is now. I survived. And I even learned to thrive. And you can, too.
By hanging onto hope.