Friday, June 4, 2010

Who knew?

April 24th:

A beautiful rendering of a sweet, loving child interested in reading.

May 30th:

Same child, still interested in reading, yet not so sweet or loving. This is what happens when you ask her to smile.

In less than a month, my absolute delight of a daughter turned into a terror. Actually it happened within a couple days and hit hard. Really, really hard. At first I blamed teething. Which she is starting to teethe her 2 year molars, and it's super fun, but it's not the reason for the complete personality change.

That reason? Is her age. I guess. Asserting her independence. Showing her frustration over not being able to communicate with words (that's a whole other post). Generally? Being kind of an asshole.

The tantrums, my God the tantrums. She is screaming crying - so loud - so long - so UGH - any time any of the following occurs: mommy tries to get her dressed in the morning. Mommy tries to put her in her car seat. Mommy exists.

I'm waiting for Child Protective Services to knock on our door because the crying is so horrid and loud. It honestly sounds like she caught fire. Her little face gets super puffy, snot and tears are everywhere. On one hand, it's heartbreaking. On the other hand, I have no clue what is really provoking it or how to stop it so it's insanely frustrating. Especially since she prefers to do this in public or around other people.

My tactic thus far? Ignore as best I can. My tactic yesterday after a long, crappy day at the office and then having to run errands to get dinner and it's really muggy and warm and I'm not sure I've mentioned it but I'm about 7 months pregnant and feeling really large, and then I try to put my kid in her car seat at the store and she goes ape shit and all stiff body and will not stop screaming crying and certainly will not relax her body enough to strap her into the car seat? I found myself in the parking lot yelling, "Bend your body! Bend your body!" and trying to physically bend it for her so I could get her strapped in, all the while trying to hold down her legs with one of my legs, while trying to balance on my 3 inch heels (which are incidentally causing ridiculous leg cramps at night). Then, once I finally got her strapped in, we drove off and she continued to cry and I'll admit I yelled "knock it off!" and turned up the radio. Before you feel too bad for my daughter, know this: she got a ton of satisfaction out of seeing me lose it to that extent. I tilted the rear view mirror to be able to see her since she was no longer crying and making noise and what did I see? SMIRKING. My not-even-two-year-old was smirking. Suddenly no tears, not even any evidence of the utter meltdown we just experience. But what was present was an unmistakable smirk. Well played, Sabrina. You won that round.

I think I've mentioned more than a couple times that I am not a fan of parenting books. I don't read them, and I suggest others do the same. They just fuck you up in the head. But, there have been occasions where whatever my gut was telling me to do wasn't working, and no one else's advice was worth a shit so I had to seek help in the form of a parenting book. First one was "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" which was a big help in getting Sabrina's naps on track when she was little and it's a good reference when sleep problems arise here and there. Second one was "Parenting with Love and Logic" which I bought when she was about 9 months old. From the dog ears in the book I clearly only looked at a chapter or two back then. Apparently she stopped throwing tantrums and I decided I didn't need it any longer.

Until yesterday. I fished the book out and started reading, hoping I'd get a little insight into how to handle this stage better than I did yesterday. Typically I prefer to just scan these so-called parenting books, but unfortunately there wasn't a chapter entitled "How to make your kid act like less of an asshole" so I had to actually read. And? It sounded like crap. The very reason I hate these kind of books. Give them choices, it says. Really? I do. Do you want to wear this or this? "No." Do you want to pick out something to wear yourself? "No." Do you want to just forget about the car seat and wish your mom was Britney Spears? "No." See, she doesn't even know what she wants.

Then, when your kid starts throwing a tantrum, you're supposed to sing "Uh-oh, uh-oh!" Then say something like, "That's a bummer." or "How sad." What the fuck, she won't even be able to hear me over her wails. I went to bed last night feeling no better prepared than I was yesterday, and actually now I was pissed because I wasted money on this damn book and time reading it last night.

This morning, Sabrina was her usual funny, happy, wonderful self when she woke up. I knew it wouldn't last the minute I had to get her dressed. I decided on a dress because it was easiest. I gave her choices, she said no. I asked her if she wanted to pick anything out, she said no. As I got her ready to put on her dress, she bolted and ran for the door (which I had shut because I am not running after her anymore). The slow cry started as she faced the door. We were on the verge of melting. I was already sweating. Desperate, I said, "Uh-oh. That's a bummer. We were having such a nice morning. That's sad." And? She stopped crying. Huh??? Who knew she gave a shit about me being sad? I then said, "Will you come here and put on your dress?" "No." Still won't face me. "Do you want a hug?" "No." But then she turned around with a big smile and came running to me. I commended her on her choice to not throw a tantrum, and started to put her dress on. She resisted a bit, but then relaxed and there were no additional tears or screaming.

Then I realized I forgot the diaper cover part of the dress and panicked. We were going to have to start all over. I brought the diaper cover thingy out to her and told her we needed to put that on. "No". And the whining and crying started. But? I said, "Uh-oh!" and she stopped. Seriously, what.the.fuck.?

I'm fully aware that this morning's success does not mean we've figured out how to combat her tantrums successfully. I have no doubt that the car seat will be another battle this afternoon and uh-oh won't work. But, there's no mistaking there was some kind of success this morning and I just have to have confidence that these approaches might work some times. It's better than nothing working all of the time, right?


April K. said...

Ugh! Been there, done that with my kids, too. Tantrums are a BITCH! Sadly, the whole, "Uh oh!" sing-songy thing usually worked for us as well. I would always just keep doing that and acting like nothing was happening or out of the in, "uh-oh! too bad mommy has to smother you just to get you buckled up...oh well, at least you'll be quiet later on!" all in a tone and manner that is definately NOT ME. Personally, I think it just freaked them out - like mommy had gone insane or something. Amazingly, this too shall pass!

P.S. My daughter always did the funky smiling thing, too, except she always managed to look either drunk or stoned in all of her photos. :)

The GVZ's said...

I read that book. And reading 'what a bummer' over and over and over made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. According to that book if you say 'what a bummer' your kid grows up to be president and if you don't your kid grows up to be a serial killer. That's amazing that it actually worked.

Anonymous said...

It actually does work. I use it on my now 10 and 13 year old kids. Want to go to the pool, huh? i only take kids who have clean rooms to the pool. Want something? Well, what are you going to do about that? How are you going to solve the problem. They are both becoming independent thinkers and I trust them to stay alone. It's a long road from 2 to 10 but you'll get there! I even use it at work...I'm a apecial ed paraprofessional working with autistic kids. It's all about choices. :)

Bekah said...

Ahh the full body arch...thats a classic maneuver

janessa said...

Holy crap, have you been living with my child? I could've written this. Except I LOST the love and logic book in a move. MUST PURCHASE AGAIN SOON.

nmaha said...

I don't get why the tantrum thing happens when they reach 2. Is there some kind off internal trigger and how do we avoid it. Now, only if some book would address that, I would definitely get it. Oh! and about talking to the little one when she's screaming her head off, DOES NOT WORK, coz she can't hear me!