The imp that replaced my baby
In lieu of writing about Arrow's first birthday, I think I ought to come out with a confession. We talked about how my baby is not really a baby anymore. (tears) You and I and everyone else agreed that's just the circle of life. So, without any advice or notice from any of you guys, I wrongfully assumed that the next step in this circle of life was that my baby was now a toddler.
Oh how I was wrong.
As it would turn out, there really is no such thing as the "Terrible Twos". I would really have to call them the "Ornery Ones." The Ornery Ones is when your child has a bad case of turning into an imp when they're unhappy.
Shame on you parents who failed to warn me about this in the first place.
A couple days after the party, Arrow started to act a little funny. By "funny" I mean she got real grumpy, real fast, and it lasted all day long. There was an onslaughter of tantrums and screaming and fits. Naps and warm milk did nothing to soothe the grumps that overcame her. For the next several days, we all walked on eggshells. Sometimes she'd have a few really good hours, and sometimes she would be extraordinarily grumpy, especially in her car seat. Her car seat has been her natural nemesis since birth, but the older she gets, the less likely she's to doze off during a ride. Nowadays she'll cry out her displeasure and kick against the seat.
Last Sunday, Taylor and I were nibbling off our finger and toe nails in worry. Why was she so upset? Was this normal? Are we bad parents? Should we spend an hour long drive dissecting Arrow's behavior and how we can change it? Or should we just wait until we get to Grandma's house and ask for her advice?
We chose to do both of those things. The entire 60 minute drive was all about Arrow, only to be solved at the front door step at my mother in law's house. After setting the baby free into her house (and thus letting Taylor's younger siblings scramble who got to hold her first), Taylor and I sat down immediately and unleashed our worries on his parents. Straightaway Sherry dropped a two piece wonder of advice. She said: "Ignore it."
Just so it's clear, "it "does not refer to her sweet-gone-sour granddaughter. Grandma J don't roll that way. "It" refers to the tantrums.
She continued, "She might learn that tantrums are a way to get extra attention. Ignore it. But take it as a sign that she might need some extra love and attention, so give her that as you see fit."
Genius! Seriously, where would I be without Sherry?
Soon, I had the opportunity to put that "ignoring" business in practice. Arrow's cycle of grumpiness began when I wouldn't let her suck on a knife that she had pulled from the dishwasher. I returned the knife to the sink for some washing, while ignoring the irritated cries that rose from the peanut gallery. Her mood worsened as I wouldn't let her eat my earrings that she had found in my purse. Finally, all manners of goodness were lost, as I removed the jar of eyeliner that she had salvaged, also from my purse (An unintentional moral of this story is that I need to be better at keeping my purse out of reach.)
While Arrow was busily shape-shifting into her imp self, I happily realized she hadn't napped for a good few hours. I asked her sweetly, "Is it time for a nap?" Arrow's face squished up in uncontrollable anger, and she whipped her body around and hightailed it to the other side of the room. She shrieked displeasure and waved her hands madly in the air. She fell to her rump and started to wail. It occurred to me later that as I watched her anger spew, I was witnessing a live transformation of the Hulk.
I snatched up my little miracle of life, and wrestled her to the nursery, where she was given a binky and her softest blanket. I ducked where she couldn't see me, and escaped the room. She banshee screeched when she realized she was trapped in her cribbed, but within minutes, a sweet sound emerged.
Silence. Blessed silence.
I didn't dare peek in on her, because she has a supernatural power of knowing when I'm in the room. But I could hear soft little sighs through the door that meant she finally had drifted off into a peaceful slumber, and that her inner beast and returned to its cage.
That, or she's playing with her toes.
I don't know yet how well this "ignoring the whining elephant in the room" business will go, but I think it's working so far. The only side effects are my somewhat frazzled nerves. Oh, and this little smile:
that's been around a lot more lately. We've been working on that extra love and attention thing when she's not screaming for it.
It's not a guaranteed system but... I think it's going to do some good.
This is the third post in Parent Week. Every day until Friday I will be posting an article on parenthood. Click here for yesterday's post, and come back tomorrow for the next one!