Concerned

Dear Love Bug,

Not too long ago, Timehop served up a photo from last year’s Chincoteague beach week and there was a caption that said something about what a terror you’d been that day. “Good thing he’s a year older and he’s outgrown that,” I thought at the time.

And then today happened and (as usual) I realized how naive I am. Kind of like that time I wrote IN THIS VERY BLOG that I was certain Three could be no worse than Two.

We had a lovely morning at the beach, albeit a bit nippy in the pretty intense breeze coming off the water. The waves were much rougher today than they were Sunday, too. In any case, you happily did your thing for a couple of hours: digging; running; climbing up a fairly significant wall of sand left behind from the recent storms, I’m guessing; flying kites (which you did all by yourself! *high five*); building an awesome sand kingdom with Daddy and me. I asked you a few times if you wanted to stop for a minute and have a snack, but each time you refused. “I’m just digging,” you’d say. Or “I’m busy building stuff.”

At about 12:15, we told you it was time to start packing up to head home, and you turned into an absolute deranged lunatic. You kept running away from us, cackling maniacally, until we physically picked you up and carried you toward the parking lot. At which point you flailed about and writhed and swung at us until a few of your punches landed.

I kept asking you to calm down, to take breaths, to use your words, but you just got yourself more and more worked up. And what was scarier than anything else was your goofy grin and crazy laughter through the entire unpleasant experience. Daddy and I have never spanked you. Ever. Today we had no tools left in our arsenal, and you got one from each of us. You howled and cried until we threatened to leave you at the beach, locked in a changing room. And finally, finally you calmed down enough for me to shower you with Nonna’s help, dry you off, and get you changed.

I told you there’d be no lunch. You’d be going straight to your room for a nap when we got home. “But I’m hungry!” you wailed. Nonna offered you a snack in the car, and you absolutely inhaled a full pack of peanut butter crackers and a small bag of popcorn.

And then it clicked. I’m starting to wonder if your terrible, unmanageable behavior, when it happens, is a result of hunger. But not just hunger–could it possibly be hypoglycemia? Hear me out. I’ve read accounts from moms with diabetic toddlers, and they talk about how they battle absolutely erratic, nearly unresponsive children when they have blood-sugar crashes. And I do truly wonder if we’re dealing with something biological here and not purely behavioral. Your Beebee has diagnosed hypoglycemia and your Granddad has diabetes. Maybe you’re dealing with something related to blood sugar, too?

When we get home, I’m going to make an appointment to have you tested, just to make sure we know what the situation is. And then we’ll be better armed to manage it.

We put you to bed when we got home from the beach, and you’re STILL sleeping. It’s going on 4 hours. And I wonder if pure exhaustion might also be a symptom of something more systemic than simply running your heart out on the beach.

In the hope that there’s another parent out there who might have experience with this, can anyone share some advice?

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

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Junior Ranger

Dear Love Bug,

Mother Nature gave us a gift of a day, and it was so unexpected I felt like doing cartwheels down the beach. We actually got there today, and it was a pretty damn near perfect beach morning. The sun wasn’t beating down or anything, but it was warm (but not hot) and slightly breezy, and the beach was relatively empty because I think the forecast kept people away.

You immediately got your big shovels out and began to dig in the sand, which you’ve been waiting approximately one year to do. Then you played your favorite game of Run Squealing Into and Out of the Water, letting it get as high as your knees. You also made some friends, played badminton and bocce (each for about 5 minutes), and dug for mole crabs (also admittedly one of my favorite things to do). I got hot at one point, which was completely surprising because again, the forecast made it seem like it was going to be the most disappointing beach week ever, and waded past the breakers to cool myself off. You called to me from the shore, so I came back, scooped you up and took you in with me. “I can swim!” you kept screaming above the roar of the water. “I can do it on my own!” Love Bug, your confidence overwhelms me. I love you so much for it. But you can neither swim nor do it on your own. So I flipped you tummy down and let you kick about while I hung onto you pretty tightly. I’m what I would consider an excellent swimmer. I’ve been jumping waves since I was barely bigger than you. But I have a HEALTHY respect for the ocean, and I’m trying to instill it in you, too.

At 11:30, we wanted to get to a ranger-led activity out on the boardwalk behind the visitor center. You put up a little bit of a fight because you really wanted to stay on the beach. But eventually you capitulated and let Daddy carry you across the parking lot to the center. The program had already begun but we were able to catch up easily, and we joined a group of 10 or so people in examining “clues” along the boardwalk of life/death in the marshy salt flats on the bay side of the beach. You stole the show in your loud, adorable, smarty-pants way. You were by far the youngest participant, but you’d blurt out answers to the ranger’s questions or say “Excuse me, Ms. Ranger!” and then ask a question or make an observation. You really seemed to enjoy it, which made my heart happy, because I spent many summers immersed in the ranger programs here when I was (much) younger. Hope we can do many more in the years to come.

I’m exhausted. I’m listening to you sleep-sigh along with the rolls of thunder outside, and my eyelids are getting heavy. We’ll have another big day tomorrow. Night night, my love.

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma

Sweet Dreams

Dear Love Bug,

It’s been a while–nearly a year! It’s funny how rhythms shift, and then you start wondering how you managed to do something so easily in the past when it seems so daunting now. In any case, we’re on vacation, back in our beloved Chincoteague, and the absence of any other demands has afforded me the opportunity to write (to you) again.

You’re going on 4, and “the beach” holds all new meaning for you as your world has expanded significantly over the past year. You can’t wait to get there. I just hope we can make it, as the weather this year isn’t any more promising than it was last year. In fact, it looks worse, much as we didn’t think that was possible. We’ll do our best. I’m trying hard to mask my disappointment lest it be contagious to you. I’m telling myself that what’s important is that we’re on vacation and we’re with family. But I’m not sure that will really resonate with you.

We prepped for this Beach Week by buying a new set of twin-sized sheets because we decided early on that this was the year we’d stop hauling alternative sleeping arrangements for you (no Pack N Play, no inflatable toddler bed) and you’d finally sleep in the daybed in our room in the house we’ve rented since you were born. Nonna had bought a bed rail for you some time ago. We’d talked to you before we left about sleeping in a Big Boy Bed, and you seemed pretty comfortable with the idea.

So as soon as we arrived, we made up your bed and called you up to check it out. Of course you wanted to climb into it immediately. You announced that you had no need for the bed rail. We suggested we test it out tonight, and if it didn’t seem necessary, we could ditch it. When we came up for bed, we found you pressed right against it, so … I think we’ll keep it on. It’s a long way from the bed to the hardwood floor. I don’t think a fall would feel very good.

This evening, you and I crawled into it together to read a few books. What a luxury! There’s no way to get into your toddler bed at home together, even without the rail that we removed some time ago. So we always read in your glider. But being able to cuddle in bed is a whole different experience.

Before the end of the calendar year, we’ll convert your bed at home into a Big Boy Bed, bigger even than the one here. And I’m already envisioning chapter books (hello, Harry Potter!) read curled up together in that big bed, night after night. More milestones to come.

In the meantime, I’m wishing us all sweet dreams of sunshine and beach weather. And doing a little bit of praying, too.

Love you like crazy, kiddo,

Mamma