Tantrums, and perspective, and hope

December 15, 2009 at 1:56 pm | Posted in little bug, read this | 4 Comments
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We’ve been having some tantrums recently. First, there is bedtime in the new big-girl bed. It had been going rather well, but now it’s not. I try to employ the “Supernanny” technique of silence and disinterest when Little Buggy sneaks out of bed and downstairs. I just pick her up and, without saying a word, plunk her back in bed. She asks for milk, for a story, to climb back up in the bed herself, but to no avail. I pull the covers over her and walk out the door.

Recently, however, she has decided that having me pick her up and put her back in bed is fun. She comes running right to my arms, giggling. I plunk her in; two minutes later she’s back out. I’ve taken to standing outside the door so she can’t get very far. She thinks this is hysterical. Last night I tried a new tactic: ignorance. I went in my room and started reading a magazine on the bed. “Whatchyou doing mom? You readin a magazine? A Christmas magazine? I want up on your bed? I climb up you?” Then she started to sing and dance to try to get my attention. It was really funny. But it was also now 8:30 p.m.

Finally, I had to get stern. “Do you want me to get angry?” I said. “You need to go back in your bed.” I picked her up, and she started to cry. She was tired now, wanted milk and a story, etc. Finally, she said, “Will you rest with me?” So I did, lying down next to her. She immediately calmed down, sucking her thumb and rubbing the well-worn “Ellie Elephant” against her nose.  Finally she said, “Good night, Mama. You go to sleep in your bed.”

This morning: another tantrum. She wanted to get dressed, but I couldn’t put on her clothes. She wanted to be downstairs and upstairs (literally, giving total credence to my mother’s theory that this period of two-year-old-ness can be summed up as “wanting to be in the front seat and the back seat at the same time”). Most confusing, she wanted me to pick her up, but I couldn’t touch her (“You take your fingers off of me!”) I finally decided I just needed to walk out the door. She grabbed on to my shoe (“my shoe!!”) and my coat (“You don’t put on your coat!!!”) Screaming, crying the whole time. I know she’s 2, and I know she’s testing me, but leaving her banging on the door, crying, as I got in to the car was awful. Five minutes later, the babysitter called. “She’s fine,” Janet said. As she and I both knew she utlimately would be once I left.

Compounding my sadness about these tantrums — is she really just being 2? What else could be bothering her? The baby? — is a creeping anxiety about how I’m going to do it with two babies. How will I pay her enough attention? As usual, things then begin to snowball far into the future: how will I possibly work as a lawyer with two kids? What will I do about preschool pickups? About daycare? Sometimes I feel like I can barely get my life to run smoothly with one child.

And then I am reminded of the story of Stephanie Nielson. For a short(ish) version of her story, read here. But please read her blog, The NieNie Dialogues. I cannot read it without crying. This woman is nothing short of amazing — honest about her own pain and insecurities, tender and joyful about her love for her family. And she has real, searing, physical pain, recovering from a three-month coma and third- and fourth-degree burns to over 80% of her body. Her face was completely reconstructed, so much so that her children for a time did not recognize her — did not want to look at her or talk to her or touch her (pain more searing, perhaps, than anything physical). Her love for her children and husband and siblings is so palpable that I am inspired both to try harder to be a present parent and yet also to relax and revel in that which I’m actually able to accomplish. My child will throw tantrums and the juggle may get difficult, but I am so very blessed. I’m not, of course, a religious person, yet I’m intrigued and inspired by the obvious spirituality of Stephanie’s journey. She makes me want to be a better person — not just a better mother, but a better soul on this earth.

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