the mom with the yelling kid

June 28, 2011

oh dear

We had one of those weekends, you know, the ones with senseless meltdowns and full on tantrums and endless screaming. Things can go one of two ways these days, either it'll be really really great (and double cute) or... dun dun dun... irrationally angry demon snakes will fly out of his eyeballs and spray the general area. Such is the life of toddler. So cute, so mad. Especially ours it seems. Dude has some FEELINGS and he is FEELING them very STRONGLY and can you hear all about his FEELINGS because I THINK YOU PROBABLY CAN.

In between being perfectly lovely and oh! hello mama, cat, would you like a hug?
My name is Jude and think I can sing the abc's all of a sudden! "A-B-C-D-2-Y-Z!"

So it's not at all disorienting for those of us who've already learned to harness all those feelings. Or, it totally is.

We are new to this tantrum world so I'm just starting to get my pins. I have a feeling it's going to be a while before I earn me pro-jacket. When we're out somewhere and it all goes to hell and enter: the yelling and flailing, I can feel my face heat up. I glance around out of the corners of my eyes to see strangers looking at me with either pity or revulsion. I hate embarrassed face. Experienced moms know better, tantrums happen to every kid and to hell with everybody else.

I, on the other hand, am still practicing my cool reserve. It's a fine line to walk between doing anything you can to stop the yelling (ie giving in) and holding your ground to try to actually teach them something. I try to think about what I would do if we were at home without anyone watching and then do that. It's surprisingly much harder than it sounds. At home I don't have to worry about the loud bothering anyone else, about being that mom with the screaming kid.

I think it's so desperately important to be consistent with the rules and expectations we have for him, whether we're out at the park or alone in the living room, so I try to stick to my guns. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I don't. Most often we meet somewhere in the middle. No, you absolutely can't scream about that and I won't react to you, but let's go over here and distract you with something else so you'll stop.

From the perspective of the watcher I'm sure that screaming kid is annoying and I do take steps to immediately let him (and everyone else) know that I'm actively working on it. Sometimes I'd like to pull the glare-ers aside and let them know that working through the yelling this time means less yelling next time. It might be a hassle now but if I buy him off it won't get any better, we'll just be back here again annoying you next time. Sacrifice your ears today to save them every other day in the future.

What's really stupid about it isn't Jude's totally age-typical behavior, it's my embarrassment. No, I don't want to be that mom with the yelling kid. But when the FEELINGS (codeword: screaming) come out it means my kid needs my guidance and that's priority number one. What a stupid thing for me to worry about when he really needs me. Time to put on the pro-jacket and help him navigate the situation, strangers be damned. I still don't like it but I need to post that little reminder inside my eyeballs while I'm at the grocery story just in case: Ignore strangers. Focus on child.

He threw (several) totally epic tantrums in Megan Boley's living room, which was just as charming as you can imagine whilst visiting strangers with a baby who doesn't do this yet. In the midst of flailing and hitting me and screaming no-no-no-no! while kicking and twisting out of nowhere the Jude threw his arms around my neck and wailed at the top of his lungs, "AH (gasp) LUHHH (gasp) YOUUUUUUU."

Oh dude. I love you too.
You and your pathetic toddler mania, you're just so dear.
We'll get through it, promise.
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