Monday, April 30, 2007

What to expect when you're expecting

There are all sorts of parents and doctors and child development experts (and even more people who've never raised a child or gone to med school or studied child psychology) who will tell you that the quickest way to break a child of any given undesirable behavior is to ignore it. By this, of course, they don't mean that if your child has taken to lighting small animals on fire, you should simply turn away and wait patiently for the phase to pass. In that example the proper reaction is obviously to grab the nearest fire extinguisher and repeatedly beat your child about the head with it. And then call a fireman to rescue the flaming cat.

If, however, your child believes - as they all do at some point - that the best way to ask for a piece of candy at the grocery store is to throw his small body on the floor and howl, and then kick over an entire Cheese-It display, and then dangle limply from your arms as you try to force him to stand on spaghetti legs, and then scream in terror as you drag him out of the store making every other shopper wonder if you've not just snatched him from the cart of his rightful mother - well then, in this case you should ignore the little brat's behavior and continue on with your shopping as if nothing were amiss. Within a few minutes time, they all agree, your child will realize that he has nothing to gain from his behavior, and he'll suddenly stand up straight, adopt a proper English accent, and invite you, "dearest mother," to join him for a spot of tea and crumpets.

These people have never been exposed to the likes of my child.

At about 6 months, The Kid (then known as The Infant, naturally) abruptly decided that he no longer liked sleeping in his crib, but would instead prefer to spend his nights being perpetually rocked in the comfort of his mother's arms. Many, many, many long nights ensued of repeatedly rocking The Infant to sleep, gingerly positioning him in his crib, and delicately creeping out the door - only to have him start awake and launch into wails of abandonment. After buckets of tears (his and mine), shrieks of frustration (his and mine), a string of sleepless nights (his and mine) and dreams filled with candy canes and gum drops (his soundly sleeping father), I decided in exhausted desperation that I was ready to do the unthinkable: let The Infant cry it out. The crying-it-out is supposed to last for a couple hours at most, before the offending baby either gives up or falls asleep from the exhaustion of having just cried for two hours. But those babies are wussies. The Infant obstinately dug in his heels and cried - nay, SCREAMED - for 9 hours straight, and he only stopped after the 9 because by then it was morning and I had to get him up to take him to daycare. And that was just the first night.

If he was that good at 6 months, I'm sure you can imagine what's come with 5 years of diligent practice. The boy is a temper tantrum genius. Thankfully, they don't come as often at 5 as they did at 3, but every once in a while he'll whip one out, dust it off, and give it a leisurely spin around the block. Tonight is one such night and so I sit, fuming silently in the dining room whilst my child fumes a little less silently in his bedroom. It will ebb and flow, but it will last all night, and, much like a kidney stone, no amount of ignoring it will help it pass any more quickly.

1 comment:

jacqueg said...

Why must you do that to me when you know full well and good it is too late for me to pullout of the motherhood gig?

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