Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The time I thought my daughter was paralyzed.

This week I learned about the toddler practice of "limp noodling" in a terrifying way.

Apparently this is one of their favorite revenge behaviors. Ingenious if you think about it. If an annoying person is keeping you from doing what you want, forcing you to do what you don't, and there's no foreseeable way out, then what's better than making it at least as difficult for that person as possible? Nothing; exactly.

And my daughter has learned this tactic. She's been employing it on occasions when she doesn't get her way, but with everything going on during the day, it's barely scraped my frazzled consciousness. Until today.

It was time to go outside, and first we had a Shoe Escapade, which ended with her in the highchair because it allowed me to velcro both feet into her shoes without her squirming away.

But her winter coat is too bulky to put on her in the highchair (and if you guessed that its level of bulkiness correlates with her level of disapproval, you'd be correct) so out she came. I knew she wouldn't like putting it on, so I tried to hurry, but I didn't even have one arm in the coat before she became the Champion of all Squirmers and nearly escaped.

By the time both her arms were inside the sleeves, she had wriggled and twisted in innumerable positions. Now, this was not a tantrum; she wasn't even upset, it was just her normal War for Independence that she wages every day.

Anyway, I said,

"Alright, now is this so bad? It will keep you warm! Let's just stand you up so I can zip it."

She didn't resist, which surprised me. I picked her up and placed her on her feet, and they folded under her, sending her to the floor. I caught her and tried to stand her up again, and the same thing happened.

I remembered how moments before she had been writhing around, and came immediately to the only logical and normal conclusion: she had displaced something important in her spine during the ordeal and was now completely paralyzed.

"Darby! Darby." I said, desperately. "Get up, baby girl. Stand up!"

(I should have known better than to say that. What kind of an inexperienced guppy am I? If I actually wanted her to stand at that moment my best bet would have clearly been to order her to lay there.)

Time stood still. Decades of caregiving to my paralyzed child flashed before my eyes, the idea of her never having a normal life. And as I stared in horror, she pulled herself to her feet and sauntered away, probably completely happy with herself for freaking me out.

Since that episode, I have become more observant of this new limp noodle phase of hers and have realized she utilizes it when there is no hope left of getting her way, but she still wants to maintain some sort of toddler dignity and freedom of expression.

It's ok. I'll be prepared next time. If she hasn't given me a heart attack before then.

Darby doing the classic "limp noodle" because I didn't let her
play with the power cords/outlets behind the couch.


  1. Yes, Timothy also enjoys this method when he's not getting his way (specifically putting on shoes/coat/hat). And if you've ever watched the show Psych, it's even funnier to watch a grown man do it, even if he is just acting!

    1. Haha I can imagine! And glad to know Darby's not the only one!

  2. toddler dignity indeed! :) You made me laugh out loud...while I had food in my mouth...thanks a lot! LOL Oh the joys of parenting...

  3. This is really hilarious! This post definitely made my day!