A friend of Jon's was checking in with him last week and asked how the Jude was doing. "How old is he now?"
"So, the screaming huh?"
And yeah, that pretty much sums it up. 18-20 months: the age of senseless anger. I thought it was just us, for a while, and that the Jude had turned monster in the night. Lo and behold I've had reports from so many others of this same werewolf disease striking at this age. You have no idea how comforting it was to hear someone else say that yeah, 18-20 was hard for them. If for no other reason than that I love the internet. Thank you, internet, for making me feel so normal in my complete insanity.
It's not so much that I mind yelling, it's the nonsensical things that set it off that get under my skin.
"Nana! Bitez! Nana! Pease!"
"Ok, hungry? Want some banana?"
"Here you go!"
(tears, rage, floor stomp, bash head into cabinet)
Does he want it cut up into slices? No. Does HE want to peel it? No. Does he want to hold it? No. Does he want ME to hold it? No. Does he want me to talk to him about the banana? NO. And the yelling, it goes on and on. It quickly becomes quite the production that nothing seems to alleviate.
Now I'm not normally one for cry-it-out tactics but this is a whole new ballgame. I discovered quickly that if I walked into the other room during this carefully choreographed monologue he would stop yelling, reposition himself within eyesight, and then start up again. Soon a new household plan was debuted, to curtail all the drama. You want to freak out about the banana you asked for? Go for it. I'm going to sit in here on the couch and pretend you're not doing that until you can get yourself together. Rather than fuel the behavior with more attention we've been trying our best to ignore it. A healthy dose of non-reinforcement.
If there's an issue I'm always happy to help him, or remind him to use his words, but frankly I don't have a lot of patience for these particular kinds of fits. Fits over nothing. If the situation gets to the point of incoherent meltdown I just tell him, "Ok buddy. You're feeling overwhelmed. When you're ready to calm down we can talk about it." and promptly ignore him. Talk to Jon about adult stuff. Read something on my phone. I think it's been harder for Jon to follow through than for me, the cold-hearted mama of stone. Suck it, baby! Stop yelling at me! I ignore you!
I don't mean to be a hardass about it... but I also kinda do. It's silly. He doesn't do this at the babysitters, not to this level. At some point I think we were probably enabling him with precious only-child attention and so it spiraled into rage-of-utter-madness. If there is one thing I fear about only children/first children it's that state of me me me entitlement. I suppose it's unavoidable to a certain point but I'll do what I can to curtail it if at all possible. I was an only child and somehow I turned out without too much of that attitude. I mean I can see it there, under a microscope, but I don't feel horribly selfish and maladjusted. Whatever my parents did it worked. Special flower, you're being ridiculous. I'm here to help you but you need to calm down.
A few months ago I lamented when oh when would discipline finally start to mean something, when would the delicate dance of parent and child and rule and limit begin. So uh, now. Alright then. Glad we cleared that up.
(To be fair to the Jude, this weekend was the best we've had in ages. Hardly any unreasonable yelling! New words! Games! Fun! So here's to hoping we've crested this latest wave of development and we can coast for a while. Whether by proxy of our newly enacted plan or just lucky roll of the dice things seem to have cooled off. No complaints here.)
(PS, he thinks that's a fork.)