Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Don't hate the player, hate the game

When I used to see kids misbehaving, I assumed that at least some portion of the blame fell on the caregiver. Obviously, the mom/dad/nanny wasn't setting limits and guiding the child into a life of productivity, kindness and healthy attitudes about body image and reality television. And maybe this is still true about older children. What the hell do I know about older kids? I have a toddler. A toddler who likes to throw fits in public places and has consequently thrown all my annoying pre-child judgments right the hell out the window with my sanity. I've needed to remind myself many times over the past couple of weeks how much I love my little monkey. He's a hilarious, quirky kid who really enjoys hugging tummies, frozen blueberries and making people laugh. I love his wide leg cowboy swagger. I love his hysterical laughter when I even pretend I'm going to tickle him. I love his excitement about the world, and particularly the sandboxes, around him. I HATE his shrieking.

We are in a Level 1, red-hot, teaming screaming zone these days. He seems to do it most when he has the maximum audience capacity and is surrounded by calm, quiet toddlers who make him look even more maniacal in comparison. The more folks around to gawk at him and mommy, the better. Library storytime offers the biggest return per scream. He makes the most of that forum and goes full-throttle. I believe he's inherited my lung capacity. Yeah, yeah, he's got a lot of personality and he usually screams because he's excited. He's active. He's energetic and spirited. Even though he's not doing it on purpose (or is he?), he's becoming kind of a PITA. But, he's still my PITA. And, I have to take him to these storytimes or else he'll never learn to read or write and will definitely kill squirrels in our backyard.

Not ready to live the life of an agoraphobe, I've been trying pretty much everything I can over the past month to "discourage this behavior." From what I've gleaned while talking (whining) to mommy friends, reading the very much on point and spookily clairvoyant babycenter emails, and grilling his pediatrician, these are the ONLY truths about the situation and my role in it:

1. Stop Caring--what does it matter what other people think about my mini? Apparently, I take this shit way too seriously. After the third person in the playground muses that my son must be a lot of work, you'd think I'd learn to just shrug it off. Chances are I'll never see that person again (and why would I want to since he/she clearly hates happy, sometimes loud toddlers) so I'm determined to stop letting it drive me crazy and feeling like the world's worst mama.

2. Ignore--obviously this is easier said then done, but I am trying as hard as I can to ask Mr. Monk to stop screaming/throwing things/thrusting his pelvis, explain why he should not scream/throw/thrust and then ignore him until the undesirable behavior stops. I really should have gone into acting because I say these things in the sweetest, happiest, most kind I love you voice ever even though I am seething inside.

3. Easy come, easy go--you know those old rainbow striped Emergency Broadcast System TV spots that beeped for a minute and then reminded you that it was just a test? Well, this too is only a test. It might be a hard, annoying one, but it'll be over soon. Most likely, the screaming is a result of him not having the language to properly express himself. So when he does begin to learn more words (everything is "baby" or "this/that" these days), I can look forward to him never shutting up. Right? Right? Please tell me this is just a test of the Emergency Broadcast System and my (mostly) sweet child is not a terrorist.

Blurry, but I love the hair wings


  1. Oh man. I feel ya. I have two who are into throwing tantrums. It has made going anywhere really hard. I always make sure I have "back - up" with me. :0

    1. Two?? I can't wrap my head around two yet. Good luck to you and the backup!