Tizzy, was a screecher as a toddler. No tantrums, just high pitched, shrill, alarming shrieks, which would activate like a defunct smoke detector, at totally inopportune times. One never knew for sure when these outbursts would take place, but we could pretty much count on them involving food and an audience. Whether in response to ice cream dripping down the side of his hand, or in reaction to an unsuspecting do-gooder offering up a piece of fruit – he would slip into, well – a Tizzy.
The outbursts were generally easy to mollify – a quick swipe with a wipe, or removal of the offending fruit would tend to ease his ails, leaving me to pick up the pieces, with apparently insufficient explanations.
“Oh my goodness!” People would tremble. “Would he like another ice-cream cone?”
“No-no, he’s just very texture sensitive. He doesn’t like anything wet on his hands”
“Would he like bananas instead of pineapple?”
“No-no, he doesn’t eat fruit actually.”
“Oh my! I’ve never heard of a child who doesn’t eat fruit. How peculiar.”
“He’s two, people – TWO! Can’t we all just recognize that and move on?!” – This is what I’d wished to say. Instead I’d grimace and nod agreeably.
Nearly three years later, he still has food aversions, but he’s much more likely to respond under the radar, by squirming uncomfortably in his chair, or releasing a low guttural growl, sounding like a pair of cats stuck under a house, trying to avoid attack.
Zip, on the other hand – well, there’s a reason I haven’t been posting much lately.
We knew when he was a baby that this day would come. He was the kind of baby who HAD to cry himself to sleep. Holding him would just exacerbate the situation. He needed to burn his fire out, and succumb to exhaustion. Now, however, he’s unconfined and uncontrollable wild fire, jumping the fire lines, and coming uncomfortably close to burning down the very house that shelters him.
The grocery store tantrum was only one of MANY we have been enduring for the last few weeks. I am painfully exhausted. He is a willful lion cub. He screams and hisses and lunges and bites, and he doesn’t give up. No, he doesn’t give up. The other day he screamed for two and a half hours. I finally had to put him in his room and hold the door shut as he made every attempt to crash it to the ground. I have tried to remain calm. There’s no point in reasoning with him, it just fuels his fire. One can try to distract him, but he always resumes his mission. He’s very focused.
My mother wrote to me yesterday, from the shores of Hawaii, undoubtedly with a lei around her neck, to let me know that her host used to place her screaming children, clothes and all, into a cold shower until they would cool off – so to speak. I may try it, but I imagine he’d just fling himself to the ground, knocking himself out on the faucet, and then I’d have to explain to his doctor why I’d brought her a wet and unconscious child. Ideally, I’d just go to Hawaii, and let the host do it for me. I’m sure I’d find that very relaxing.
Two weeks ago, my cousin came to stay with us, and we spent most of the night talking – until three in the morning. I made the mistake of kissing Zip and adjusting his blankets, before going to bed myself. He woke up, and immediately started tearing off his diaper. Unresolved, and not wanting to wake up the rest of the household, I put him into his car seat, where he was incapable of undressing himself, and drove him downtown to try to ail his wiles. We drove and drove, the only ones out, but he was unfazed and would only be happy, it seemed, when he was naked and diaper free. I had almost lost my resolve when I reminded him of the poop that had fallen out of his loose diaper just days before, landing unpleasantly on the kitchen floor. He hadn’t liked that at all, and I pointed out that his bed would be covered in poop and pee if he insisted on sleeping au natural. This, remarkably, was funny to him.
“Yuck!” he giggled. “Poop is yuck!”
“It is yuck, and it will be all over you and all over me if you insist on sleeping in my bed.” Which, I knew inevitably, was the only way we were going to get any sleep that night.
Apparently we were onto something.
“You will get to go without a diaper, if you start to pee and poop in the potty. Until then, you will have to wear a diaper”
“I not want to wear a pie-per no more.”
“Well then, you are going to have to learn to use the toilet. We all had to start out that way. Me, daddy, Tizzy, we all wore diapers once, and now we don’t, but you don’t see any of us walking around pooping on the kitchen floor.”
“Hee-hee... oh No-ooh!”
“So you are going to need to do some practicing if you want to go diaper-less as well.”
“I not wear a pie-per no mo-oore.”
“Let’s make a deal – let’s go home, and you finish sleeping in your diaper until morning so you don’t pee or poop in the bed –”
“Hee-ho-ha-ha! – Poop in the bed is YUCK!”
“Yes, yes it is, – and in the morning, you can pee in the potty and get a sticker. When you fill up your sticker chart, you will not have to wear diapers any more, and we will get you some big boy underpants.”
“I’m gonna have a Batman and Spiderman big boy pants, and not wear my pie-per no more!”
We all know these things don’t resolve themselves over night, and I’ve been very aware these past two weeks, that this too shall pass. Not to say I haven’t had my share of disappointments. I’ve been working diligently on a writing project that I truly thought I was ready for. Each night, when he’d finally acquiesce into sleep, I’d fight my exhaustion, getting a little closer to completion, and say to myself, “if the time is right, I will get the position.” As I was rounding out the finishing touches, I discovered the position had been filled. There will be more projects, but it was clear to me, that the time is not yet right. He’s still secretly plotting, knowing that if I can get paid for my work, I can hire a babysitter.
He’s not ready for that yet. Not yet.
Not to say I haven’t gone just a little bit crazy. I called Brad at work the other day, and broke down in tears. I’m frequently more of a scowler than a crier, so when Zip saw me, he stopped dead in his tracks.
“Mama – calm down...” he whispered, stroking my back. “Is o.k. mama, is o.k.”
I’d forgotten about the crying mama trick. It used to be quite effective at stopping me too, now that I look back on it.
Alas, I cannot cry forever. Yesterday, he woke up with a dry diaper, pointed to his pelvis, and said “It hurts. It hurts mama, it hurts.”
I led him to the toilet and sat him down and he peed.
“Now that’s what I’m talking about!” I told him. “That’s how it feels to pee in the potty!”
He’s still faltering, but then yesterday, he was a little bit happier.
Baby steps. Every day, we both take a few more baby steps.