Do You Have Toddleritis?

Have you been popping Advil like E.T. with a sackful of Reeses Pieces? Have you been reduced to a quivering ball of stress after finally wishing your child goodnight? Do you have a sudden thought that you want your kid gone…just gone…coupled with a crippling guilt at even thinking such a thing? Then perhaps you’re suffering from Toddleritis, a very real but treatable and curable mental exhaustion created by a myriad of both exotic and commonplace actions and behaviors.

Possible Todderitis causes include:

  • Your toddler purposely pouring a bowl filled to the brim with milk and cereal on to herself, her high chair and the floor forcing you to clean her up, do a load of laundry, scrub the floor and vacuum the carpet all while she wails to the point where it sounds like she’s barking like a seal
  • Your toddler refuses to eat lunch for some unknown reason, pushing away all food and utensils and crying as if you’d threatened to never let her see the clip of “Let It Go” from Frozen again
  • Your toddler decides not to nap and instead sits in her crib intermittently whimpering and talking to herself as you try to read or watch a television program or get some work done
  • Your toddler poops during nap-time and because she’s rebuffed sleep, her inability to stay still allow the poop to seep through her diaper all over her clothes, sleep sack, sheets and stuffed animals forcing you once again to the laundry room
  • Your toddler keeps climbing on bookcases, tables and anything she can reach despite the amount of times you’ve asked/told her not to do so because it’s dangerous
  • Your toddler decides mac and cheese, vegetables, grapes, etc. aren’t good enough for dinner; all she wants are “Puffs!” and she’ll scream unless she gets them
  • Your toddler wakes up in the middle of the night screaming for Daddy and after you wait the required 5 minutes to see if she’ll fall back asleep, you go in, hold her, sing to her, rock her until she falls asleep in your arms looking precious – so precious – but a half hour later when you try to put her back in her crib, she reawakens and starts crying forcing you to do everything all over again and wonder if you’ll ever get back to your own bed

And it’s very possible all of these things have happened on the same day!

Toddleritis symptoms may include:

  • Extreme physical, emotional and mental fatigue
  • A wish to tear your hair out and run down the hallway yelling incomprehensible words and phrases
  • Severe pain from wrenching your back while preventing your toddler from grabbing something she’s not supposed to touch
  • An inability to sleep or at least sleep well enough to function
  • As reported above, a desire for your toddler to disappear instantly followed by oppressive guilt
  • An urge to strangle Elmo (though that could also be an ordinary feeling)
  • In your mind, your toddler has morphed into this:


The good news is that Toddleritis symptoms can be treated and the disease has numerous cures. Perhaps a loved one is willing to take your toddler off your hands for a night or even a few hours allowing you much needed alone, sleep and/or spousal time. It’s possible your spouse will “give you a day a off” allowing you to meet up with some friends, watch something like The Wolf of Wall Street and then debate Matthew Perry preparing to write and play Oscar Madison in a remake of the beloved sitcom, The Odd Couple (as Darth Vader so famously said, “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!”). If no loved ones are around, you can maybe pay a babysitter an exorbitant, yet well-deserved wad of bills so you and your spouse can have a wonderful date night. All of these can act as treatments and/or cures, but the best and most effective are the following:

  • Your toddler does something hilarious like finally answering “Braaains!” along with a throaty laugh when asked what a zombie says (ok, I’m weird)
  • Your toddler runs into your arms and gives you a warm hug
  • Your toddler gives you a look that melts your heart
  • Your toddler smiles, jumps up and down and says, “Daddy!” when you walk through the door

Toddleritis can be a serious condition, but rest assured, it won’t last forever because at any moment your toddler might exhibit such glorious glee at the most run-of-the-mill thing that your body swells with pride and love. In essence, your toddler might all of a sudden look like this:


And how could you feel anything but enchantment when faced with a moment like that?


Just A Spoonful of Sugar Near Bedtime Can Turn Your Toddler Demonic

It was 10 pm and boy did we know where our child was. She was in her room screaming, nay screeching, for more than 45 minutes. We’d put her down about an hour before, but then suddenly it sounded as if some medieval torturer was there in the darkness of her bedroom flaying Sienna’s skin. Elaine was the first to go and check and reported back that Sienna was out of control, repeatedly yelling some word that Elaine couldn’t understand, not just pulling away from my wife’s comforting arms, but tearing herself from her grip and then cowering in the corner of her crib. I went in and she did the same with me, flinging herself out of my arms with a piercing yell as if my hands were balls of fire. She’d then stand up and hiccup some unintelligible word, incomprehensible because she’d reached that panic mode of crying where her breaths were coming so fast that they mixed were her voice.

Finally we understood:. “OUT! OUT! OUT! OUT!”

It was just a few hours earlier that Elaine, Sienna, my parents and I sat in an Italian restaurant enjoying good food and good times. It was just a few hours earlier that my parents gave Sienna a little bit of ice cream while Elaine and I looked at each other across the table and telepathically thought:

“This is a bad idea, isn’t it?”

“Terrible idea, but what can we say?”

“We can say, ‘No!'”

“But they’re grandparents and they just want to spoil Sienna a bit – see that spark of ecstasy in her eyes when she tastes that ice cream, watch her strain the belt of her high chair as she begs for more.”

“She’ll just have a little. It’s ok.”

“Ok. Just a little. Besides, we so rarely give her sugar, and it’s New Year’s Day.”

And that’s how a wee bit of this:


 Turned this:



Into this:



We hadn’t realized just how close to bedtime it was. That was mistake number one. We didn’t have the backbone to tell my parents we didn’t want them giving Sienna any sugar. That was mistake number two. Now Elaine, Sienna and I were all paying for it.

Back in her room I kept trying to grab Sienna so we could hold and soothe her, but it was like trying to capture a greased pig. Finally I got a hold of her sleep sack and yanked her out. She squirmed out of my arms and flopped on the floor. Then she got up, took a washcloth, and walked around and around the room “cleaning” things only to suddenly drop it, bend over and screech.

“Do you want a book?” I asked.


I picked up a book, sat down in her rocking chair and pulled her to me. She squealed and wriggled away. Then she told me to get out of the chair. She wanted Mommy in the chair, but still she wouldn’t calm down. No book. Back to walking around with that washcloth only to drop it and howl and stamp her feet. It was like something out of Paranormal Activity.

“Do you want your cow? Your lion? Bert and Ernie?”


Elaine and I looked at each other. We were both terrified and I’m so thankful Elaine was there because if I were alone, my anxiety would have taken control and had me bawling.

“What hurts? Your belly? Foot? Head? Hands?”


I don’t know how much time passed before Sienna finally crawled into Elaine’s lap and started sucking her thumb. I turned on Sienna’s lightning bug which spreads stars across the ceiling and plays peaceful music.

“Do you want to count the stars?” I asked, and counted out loud.

Soon enough Sienna lay down next to me and joined in. Then she asked for Mommy to lie down too and all three of us looked up at the blue nightscape and counted the stars. Finally Sienna let us put her in her crib and she lay down. She fell asleep well past 11 pm.

Elaine and I, shaken and stirred, retreated to our bedroom. I texted my mom about further limiting Sienna’s sugar intake, especially during the evening. She agreed to follow out instructions. We are, after all, Sienna’s parents. I know grandparents want to spoil their grandkids. I completely get the joy they feel in doing so and I assign my parents zero blame. We’d never experienced anything like what happened last night, so who knew a couple of tiny spoonfuls of ice cream that close to bedtime would be so disastrous.

Don’t be afraid to tell grandparents when we feel they should stop. And never, ever, under any circumstances, give your toddler sugar even remotely close to night-night.

Consider these lessons learned.