Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tantrums Within and Outside of the Uterus (Brothers in Arms)

Third time's a charm except for pregnancy. I'm now in the third trimester and "charming" is not an adjective that comes to mind. My tenant is likewise having some concerns. Previously, he had ample room. Now he's realizing that his apartment is getting a little cramped, which is not surprising since he lives in San Francisco (get used to it, kid - everyone here needs more space!). While small, his apartment is even better than rent controlled - it comes furnished and free with utilities paid for and all food provided. A real sweet deal. So like any San Franciscan in the predicament of not being able to leave their apartment but not being able to live in it either, he's taken to renovation and ingenuity in decor. Displeased with his space and his brother's decor, all Saturday he had a construction crew come in and installed a brand new open kitchen (taking down a few non-structural walls), bathroom and built an outside deck. While I was being jabbed continuously by my earnest renovator, my toddler decided to jab me in a completely different fashion. I suppose there was something in the air.

I had heard of toddler tantrums. In fact, I had seen quite a few. I may, in my extremely naive pre-parent phase, been judgmental when a couple couldn't control their kid in public. I had never before experienced the absolute helplessness of staring at your own kid as they work themselves up into such a frenzy that you are worried about the capacity of their internal organs to withstand the pressure. NO, NO, NO, NO, NO! my son shouted, his hands in clenched fists, thumping the table, his face increasingly incarnadine and his eyes bulging resistance. What terrible thing did I do to my son to receive this response from him? Not allow him to eat his soup by himself after the results of his adventure were readily apparent on the kitchen floor. I always encourage my son when he wants to do things by himself and try to foster his independence. However, there are certain things that an 18 month old cannot do and he refuses to accept this. The outcome of our battle was not pretty. My husband walked into the kitchen at the crescendo of my son's sonata, when his shaking appeared to be the cause of the internal revolt of more than a few vital organs and stopped to stare, aghast. Looking at me for an answer, I just shook my head and explained the cause of our son's distress. There we stood, adults flummoxed by a toddler, no party in control. My husband decided that his behaviour called for a "time out" but this only heightened the thumping and the screaming. In the end, he calmed out down by himself and then decided to entreat us with a kiss. Possibly the "time out" did actually work or he simply tired himself out. Either way we've realized we've reached a whole new level of parenting and need to arm ourselves against another insurrection - with reason? with diversion? with authority? - we  will probably try all three and more as we address these tantrums through trial and error.








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