do it self + do it self senior

Chicken has officially entered the "do it self" phase of toddlerhood.

"Do it self" is a wonderful, terrible thing. I hope he grows out of it, like, yesterday, and I hope he keeps it forever.

Fierce, delicious desire for independence
+ still-developing fine motor skills
+ high-top, lace-up red Converse sneakers
= why am I bursting with pride, yet simultaneously craving a Valium and a couple balls of play doh to shove into my ears?

"SELF! SELF! SELF!" he screams, while grunting and TOTALLY failing to even get the fucking shoes on his feet, much less laced up.

It's like watching a tiger try to make a friendship bracelet.
It's like watching your grandparents use Yahoo search.
It's like... it's like watching your husband try to open a necklace clasp.

OhmyGod just... use your thumb nail to... OKAY JUST STOP. Just LET ME DO IT, you sausage-fingered King Kong beast! you scream in your head as you twiddle your fingers on a ghost clasp and reach out to grab it from him and stop yourself just in time over and over again...

If I even look at Chicken while he's grunting and fumbling with these shoes, he will actually get up and RUN into another room where he can try, and fail, and make it so much fucking harder than it needs to be. Himself.

Why can't you just ask for help? It's okay to say "I need help with this one thing, today." You won't always need help tying your shoes. You'll be able to do it yourself soon. You're still a marvelous, capable, whip-smart, independent, spicy Chicken wing. Why is it so important to do everything all by yourself, all day, every day?

Chicken, on the playground, trying to climb a ladder clearly intended for a child 2-3 times his size:

Me: Chicken, can I help you?
Chicken: Do it self.
(I hover around him as he's reaching so, so hard to get to the next rung, his little Croc-clad foot on tip-toe, teetering on the bottommost rung. Unconsciously, I reach out and put a hand on his back to steady him.)

Chicken: (stiffens instantly) NOOOOOOOOOO! Do it SEEEEELLLLF!
Me: Fine, do it yourself!

(Chicken struggles for a few more seconds.
Then he realizes he's stuck and cannot, in fact, do it self.
Then he starts looking around for me, with a look of shock and disgust that I'm just letting a two-year-old hang out on this wildly dangerous ladder alone. What kind of mother are you? he seems to say.)

Chicken: Mommy! Mommy! Help! Help climb! Help climb NOW!
Me: Ooooooh! You'd like me to help you now?

Mostly, the only thing standing between me and a nice haughty "I told you so," is the nightmarish image of Chicken saying it back to me in the exact same way. Because he's just that much of a d-bag sometimes. And by d-bag, I mean mini-me.

"Can I get the door for you?" says a kind stranger, watching me attempt to hold the door open with one hand while Stretch-Armstrong-ing the stroller through the doorway.

"No, no, I've got it. Thanks. I'm used to it! HAHAHAHAHA!"
(wipes sweat from upper lip)
(laughs a too-cheery, kinda-scary, over-caffeinated laugh)
(in case you didn't get that from the all-caps.)

"Do you need some help?" says a friend, watching me bounce a curled-up Buster on one shoulder and balance Chicken on the opposite knee as I read the Freight Train book for the fifth time in a row.

"Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I've got it. I've got it. This is normal," I reassure her.

(was that enough no's, you think?)
(my Buster shoulder is cramping up)
(Chicken just elbowed me in the boob)

(6:45 am. Buster wakes up and needs to nurse. From behind his door, Chicken calls out "door ope? Hungry!")

Ryan: Do you want me to get Chicken?
Me: Oh, no, I've got it.

(gets out of bed)
(cradles Buster in right arm while he nurses)
(goes into the kitchen to pop in toaster waffles)
(uses left hand to pour milk in sippy cup (and all over the counter) mixes chocolate into it, screws on sippy cup lid one-handed)

Ryan: seriously, how can I help?
Me: I've got it! Really! 

(waffles pop up)
(Buster pops off boob. I throw him onto my shoulder for a burp while pulling out cream cheese and jam to spread on the waffles)
(Buster burps so I put him in the Ergo so I can put Chicken's placemat down in front of his booster seat because if the placemat isn't down in front of his booster seat he'll try to sit in one of the other chairs and then he'll smear cream cheese all over the other chairs...)


I hear myself saying "I've got it," all the time. Sometimes it's legit. Sometimes I've got it. 

One bag of groceries? Got it.
Getting Chicken in his car seat? Got it.
Nursing Buster hands-free so I can type a blog post? Got it.

But a lot of the time, when I say "I've got it," what I'm really saying is:

God, I would love some help.

But if I accept your help, I'll never be able to do this alone.
And someday, I will have to do this alone.
Someday I will be in this exact situation, with two children and no extra hands.
It will be my job, mine alone, to keep them safe.
It will be my job, mine alone, to get us through this.
I have to do this myself.
I have to know I can.
Because if I can do this, I can do anything. And it follows that if I can't do this... I can't do anything.

Does anyone else feel this way, or are Chicken and I alone in this life raft, drinking our own pee and waving off the rescue helicopter. 

"We've got it! Thanks! We're going to do it self!"


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