Monday, July 31, 2006

Tantrum Season

I had a hard week. I understand that it's all relative; for instance, nobody tried to blow me or my stuff up. My health has been okay, though I do feel like my sinuses have been lined with cement.

But I have had trouble getting along with Jarrah in the past five days. I think she may be teething; in fact, it's possible she has 32 teeth coming in simultaneously from the way she's been behaving. She spends most of her time either screaming, stamping her feet (in that kind of "I don't wanna and you can't make me!" way) or letting her mouth go slack when it's filled with barely moistened food so that clumps of viscous gloop roll down her shirt and onto the furniture and car seat. Often these episodes seem sooooo irrational that I am stunned, like tonight when we gave her two slices of peach (she loves peach) and she nibbled one and put it down, then reached for a third "fresh" slice from the bowl. When I pointed and said "You already have two" she began screaming and frantically whisking all her dinner onto the floor.

Yesterday we visited Mary, Paul and Joy at "My Gym" and Jarrah's tiny fingers had just touched the rail to the ball pit when the staff told me she couldn't come in "until the music starts." Well, try explaining that to her. She yelled, cried, snotted and stamped her feet in the otherwise silent lobby while being watched with vague interest by three or four other perfectly quiet children who did not feel the same urgency about the balls.

These episodes have been raising my blood pressure. I hear my heart pounding higher and higher until I think I am choking on it. I repeat like a mantra "Just be patient, she's only one; just be patient; she's only one" and that does work until suddenly it doesn't and a tsunami of rage rolls over my head and I have to stride away from the eye of the storm. David is more understanding. He explains to me that irrational is rational to someone of her age. I believe him, but he is gone all day in a nice, quiet office. Somehow I'm just not doing a very good job of being patient and understanding right now.

And it hurts me, that I feel that way. I want to dig deeper and find a bottomless well of compassion and calm, but I don't seem to be able to. And then I feel inadequate. After all, I remember reading somewhere recently this quote from a toddler father: "I don't worry about my daughter loving me. That's not her job; it's my job to love her." I adore that idea, I really do. And I aspire to that kind of...what? selflessness? Maybe it isn't selflessness when you get everything you need from the ACT of loving your child. Right now loving my child is just making me haggard.

I think what really makes me haggard is knowing it doesn't go away. There will be some version of her stamping her feet and screaming now for the foreseeable future and beyond. And I hope I get better at dealing with it so I don't have some kind of cardiac episode.

Also it's very hard to have these feelings without the soothing balm of chocolate. I'm just saying.


Amy said...

Dear Sam,
I am so sorry to hear you have had a rough week. It is entirely possible that teething could be attributing to Jarrah's short fuse. The upside of that one is that as soon as the teeth cut through you might hopefully see some improvement. I know it is hard to reach down any deeper when you are already frazzled and frustrated. I too have been there. Just think at least you don't have TWO doing the same. :) Remember life is a series of peaks and valleys so if you feel in the depth of a valley right now, just hold onto the fact that the inevitable peak is just around the corner!
Big hugs!!!

Anonymous said...

i have 2 words: baby tylenol

Jamie said...

Yeah, teething may have something (or a lot) to do with it. It just makes them grumpy. When they get older you can start reasoning with them a bit, or at least teaching them cause-effect when it comes to tantrums. My two year old is totally going through this right now and is slowly but steadily learning that crying or whining is an immediate disqualification for whatever she's asking for, while asking politely will often get it.

Anonymous said...

NO chocolate at all?? Can't at least a little fit into your new food plan??
Yes, Jarrah will go in and out of various gross behaviors over the years, and yes, you will live through it, emotionally or with ever growing patience(hopefully without a coronary), because this is what parenting is about, and you ARE a good parent.
Best, Gail

Sam said...

Hi Gail,

Oh, I can have SOME, sure, but what's the point when I can't have the full POUND that I need in such situations? ;)

Also: I tried e-mailing you a while back; did your address change? I have my Wed. babysitter starting this week and I'd love to organize a workshop!


Cheryl Rourke said...

Hi Sam

Take heart, your feelings are very normal and temporary.

I have discovered that just before any major developmental leap children are irrationally frustrated and terribly difficult because they no longer behave like the sweet child they were the day before. They want to make the leap and are frustrated by the delay and their powerlessness to make the change happen. It helps to understand why they have suddenly become a pint sized terrorist. So, just before crawling, walking, speaking, eating independently, independent toileting, dressing independently etc they become very moody.

The good news is that Jarrah will become calm again and manageable ...until the next hurdle. The bad news is it goes on for life! Olivia is 11 and wants to choose her own hair colour. Honey brown hair is offensive to her as she wants to be a firecracker red head. The result.....temper tantrums because I will not buy the hair dye. Forget the chocolate, I open a Kingtree Sauvignon Blanc.

Toasting you,

Cheri said...

Mama said there'll be days like this, there'll be days like this my mama said. Okay, forget the Dusty Springfield lyrics, what you need is that line from the Teletubbies, "Big Hug!"