The String Cheese Incident

For a short time, I was beginning to think that Aaron had magically skipped the stage known as “the Terrible Twos” (or as my mother, an expert in early childhood development, calls it, “the Terrific Twos.” Is that supposed to be sarcastic, Mom?). Around his second birthday, he was a delightfully easy-going child, communicating with him was a breeze, and I was patting myself on the back for being Super Mom. I thought wrong.

We have now entered into the frightening, mind-boggling world of the Toddler Stage. Suddenly, he has a roller coaster of emotions in any given moment. He demands, he protests, he throws tantrums. I’m sure other parents will want to chime in, and let me know all about their challenging toddler’s antics. But let me assure you, I have a Capital C Crazy child.

Earlier this week, my son asked for some string cheese for breakfast. First of all, I’m not sure why he thought string cheese would make a good early morning meal, but that’s apparently how a two-year-old’s mind works. I tear open the plastic wrapper of the string cheese, and hand it to Aaron.

He suddenly goes berserk. He stomps his feet, he makes a scrunched-up angry face, and cries, “Aaron peel!”

I respond, “Oh, sorry, I already peeled it.”

“Aaron peel! Aaron peel!” He throws himself onto the kitchen floor, and kicks his legs wildly into the air.

I try to reason with him (as if rationale and logic are ever effective with toddlers). “Okay, well you can peel your string cheese next time. This one is already open, so just go ahead and eat it.” He continues to scream and cry, and I am certain that our neighbors think I am butchering a live pig. I enthusiastically suggest that we “fix” the wrapper, “Here, let’s pinch it back together and you can pretend to peel it.” I attempt to ignore his meltdown (isn’t that what the toddler experts suggest?).

“Aaron peeeeeeeel!” His face is now red and blotchy. My ears hurt from the shrill banshee shrieks, and I’m beginning to wonder where this writhing alien was teleported from. Is it really only 7:30 in the morning?

We are at a parent-child stand-off, with only one person destined to be the victor. After several moments of considering all my options, I finally give in. I don’t have the energy to take my child to the emergency room if he throws himself into the nearby refrigerator. “Okay, fine, mommy will get you a new unpeeled string cheese. I’ll eat the opened one.” I give him a brand-spanking-new string cheese.

For several minutes, our home is quiet and peaceful. Aaron works at his string cheese, trying to open the wrapper. His chubby toddler fingers, however, make this task a losing battle. “Mommy help,” he says. “You want me to help you open it?” I ask. He nods. I look at him intently, “Are you sure you want my help?” Again, he nods yes. So I take String Cheese Number 2, and peel it open.

Aaron starts screaming hysterically, and hurls his body onto the ground again. “AARON PEEL!” AARON PEEL!”

I stare at my son, remind myself that it would be wrong to throw string cheese at a child, and dig really deep down for some maternal love to get me through another day.

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