Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Testing, testing...one-two-temper-tantrum

...here is how a temper tantrum a la Gus unfolds...

Me: "No, Gus, you can't climb up on Mommie's desk. Mommie's desk is her space, your space is over there next to the toy basket."
Gus:"Ahhhhhhhh!!!!!" (shrill with exlamation marks, followed by abrupt stepping from one foot onto the other and arms flailing at the side, finally topped off by deftly slapping either at Mommie or the next best object in sight, sometimes he even flings himself to the ground in sobs)
Me: Ignoring him, trying to remain calm and and seeking cover
Gus: Having made his point, stomps away to climb up on something else...leaving unhappy grunts in his wake...

Temper tantrums are new and have turned my previously so-chill and easy-going son into a multiple-personality mess that keeps me forever puzzled. No one tell me about the terrible twos...I have a shrieking, sullen, demanding, happy, energetic, clingy 18-month-old toddler on my hands...I'm not curious at this point what birthday No. 2 brings...someone blow out the candles before he sets the house on fire...

It was funny at first...his half-hearted attempts at personality separate from my own. Running in tears to hide his face in the fridge door, or flinging himself to the ground forgetting instantly why he was on the ground...but the stumbles have turned into tremors and I'm bracing for the all-out quake as I type this...it can only be weeks before I gather up my shrill bundle of previous-joy in the grocery store or at the playground...I'm praying our audience will be kind...or hard of hearing...

Yes, there is a part of me that feels payback time is upon me. If I was Catholic, I'd be hanging my head to await my due punishement: After all, my temper tantrums are the stuff of family legends and I remained a sore looser and unwilling sharer of things until way past my second set of teeth...I try to hide it, but I still have a hard time keeping a straight face when I lose at a boardgame...silly isn't it?

So he got it from me and he is a bit ahead for his age and he is hampered by not having words (maybe that's good) to express his feelings...yep, I got all the insight I need. And yes, we've been beefing up the signs so he can tell me that it is that frustrates him...so far he is signing away for me to sing "Itsy bitsy spider" about six dozen times in a row...and if I stop a tantrum flares its ugly tentacles...he needs more attention than Madonna and Jesse Jackson combined.

I know it will pass and I know with the grace of God my patience will be enough and I'll learn something from him through this, but please...can someone tell me how to inflict a time-out on a squirming toddler who has just hit you square in the gut during a diaper change, while laughing you straight in the face?

Don't get me wrong, he is still cute and makes me laugh dozens of times a day. He is sweet as can be to others and full of energy I adore, but I cherish naps, when I can tend to my new bruises and do something in peace and quiet without dreading another impasse of opinions.

Someone please tell me that 3 is when they become thoughtful and polite.
Please?

2 comments:

The Wanderers' Daughter said...

Ahhhhh....we have a taste of that too. I know that's why they call it the terrible twos. QQ is not as needy of constant attention - she's pretty independent and can entertain herself (lucky for me, the anti-daycare mommy!) But when she wants something, and we say no, she can get very, very imperious. she has actually slapped at us from time to time lately...which is a shock! Thankfully, her "tantrums" last about a second and a half at this point. She has no attention span for misery, and for that I feel blessed. Still, timeouts are in our future, if only to keep her safe. "No" is not a word she accepts for any reason as an order she needs to follow, and she is thoroughly unintimidated by us. Our ped gave us a how-to pamphlet on time-outs yesterday, and I'm off to Target to get my special chair and my egg timer. Sigh.

Angie Davis said...

when you get some answers, will you please, please share them with me?