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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

But when she was bad ...

There was a little girl 
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good 
She was very, very good.
But when she was bad she was horrid!

This nursery rhyme took on new, personal meaning for me with the birth of #2.  She didn't have curls right away.  In fact, she was nearly two before there were soft little ringlets framing her face.  But her Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality reared its cute little pink head with in days of birth.

#2 was a delightful baby and toddler.  She was smiley and smart and funny and cute as a button.  Until she became upset.  And becoming upset was not, unfortunately, a rare thing.  Sometimes there was a clear cause of the tantrum, but many times there was not.  Not that it mattered.  Remedying the problem did not end the fit.  #2 held grudges.

One such grudge was created when Larry's parents took #2 and her older sister down to visit Larry's grandparents, about 20 minutes away.  #2 was about 4 months old.  They weren't going to stay long, and they were armed with some expressed milk and a bottle.  #2 was fine all during the car ride down.  She was fine visiting her great-grandma and grandpa.  Then she started to get hungry.  It wasn't even the hunger that sent her over the edge.  It was the bottle.  Forget the fact that it was filled with the good stuff she was used to.  Forget the fact that she was addicted to pacifiers, and therefore no stranger to the silicon nipple.  The combination of the two was absolutely unacceptable.  She screamed.

The visit was cut short.  She screamed for 20 minutes on the car ride home.  She screamed when she saw me.  She screamed as I tried to give her what she'd wanted in the first place.  She rigidly screamed for an entire hour in my arms before she settled down and nursed.  And then, of course, she fell asleep.

When she was a little older, maybe almost two, #2 would often get angry because of something she was not allowed to do or have.  I discovered a trick, quite inadvertantly, that worked very well.  I would put her in her crib and tell her she could come out when she stopped crying.  Then I'd watch covertly from the door.  After a certain amount of time, she'd throw her pacifier to the floor.  Gradually she'd shift her screams from whatever the power-struggle had been about in the first place to indignation over an out-of-reach binkie.  I'd usually let her go a few minutes like that, just to be sure the anger was fully transfered, and then I'd walk in and with an, "Oh, did you drop your binkie?  Let me get that for you," I'd swoop her out of the crib, insert the plug, and cuddle the pacified little monster.

I was often afraid to go places.  A fit could, and did, occur at any time.  Some folks were understanding, but a shocking number were not.  I got suggestions and glares and rude comments galore.  "Believe me," I'd tell them, "if there were anything I could be doing to make it better, I'd be doing it."  I vividly remember finishing a grocery shopping trip in tears with a crying #2 sitting in the cart and too much time invested to simply walk away.  An elderly lady had given me a, "Well, I never,"  in produce, and I couldn't pull myself together until we were in the car.  Poor, sweet #1 was so worried about me and kept asking what was wrong.  I didn't know what to say.  She clearly had no concept that this perpetual screaming was not normal.

It was at about age 3 that the tantrums stopped.  #2 has no memory of the Mr. Hyde episodes.  Interestingly enough, she has become my most even-keeled, pleasant kid.  It's as if she got it all out those few, miserable years.  There are still situations that make her get teary-eyed.  But they tend to be times when she feels uncomfortable or nervous.  And even then she tries very hard not to cry.  

**Photos taken Christmas Day 1997, within less than an hour of each other.  She was 13.5 months old.  I can't remember why she was crying.  It could have been anything, really.

20 fishy comments:

Annette Lyon said...

First off, totally has your eyes.

Second, now that she's older--do you ever worry Hyde will return with hormones?

(Speaking as a mother of 3 girls . . .)

SO said...

Oh I really hope she did get all those tantrums out early on and they don't come back to haunt you. And people who don't understand tantrums need to be smacked upside the head.

2busy said...

Love the new background! She was such a pretty baby despite the tantrum.

J. P. said...

I'll bet you are so grateful for the screaming days to be gone. Lets just hope she doesn't revisit them at 16! :)--Lisa

Shauna said...

I love the new background!
♥ HUGS ♥

Heatherlyn said...

I'm a fan of hoping that the child gets it all out of their system. She really seems like such an even-tempered girl now. I can't imagine that she hasn't totally gotten past it.

CaJoh said...

I think every child has their moments that make them act like that. I think that she was just trying to make sense of everything and it all was too much. She understands things better now and is much more reserved.

veronica said...

If I were behind you at the check out stand that day I would have been sympathetic.
Been there. Done that.

Lara said...

Gasp. I could have written most of this post about my own #2. What grudges she held, even as a 5 month old baby! And she's still very stubborn when she wants something.

She is more even keel now, thank heavens.

I enjoyed reading this story! And I have so much empathy for you in the grocery store.

Kristina P. said...

My mom talks all the time about how horrible and stubborn I was as a child.

I have none of that in me now. (haha)

Melanie J said...

My baby has just discovered tantrums. And hitting. And biting. It's an absolute delight.

Rhonda said...

Oh how I can relate. I quit counting the blog posts that I have written on this very subject.

Your #2 looks absolutely precious and as far from ornery as it gets.

Wendyburd1 said...

I love this background too, and poor you, I would lose it too if some mean old lady gave me a hard time and had no understanding of what was actually going on!!

Brooke said...

Sometimes I think people just don't get that they ACTUALLY do come with their own personalities. There is only so much we can control. I'm glad she's grown out of it. I bet that was hard for you.

Kelly said...

It appears my #2 might just be like your #2. He sure can throw his own tantrums. Banging head on the floor (mind you we have all hard wood floors throughout) and now onto banging his head on the wall standing in his crib. Biting also seems to be a issue with him. Hopefully he too will grow out of it in time.

Diane said...

I love going to the store without kids, it's the biggest thrill of my life. She is sure cute.

rachel said...

I think my #2 must be channeling this grudge behavior. She can go from blissfully happy to a maniacal rage in .00007 seconds, and then back again. I don't get rude people. I think when they get old, they conveniently forget the gauntlet they walked through in raising toddlers.

Melissa said...

I swear it must be a girl thing.... I am discovering the joys of their drama with Sissy.
Loved the post, totally made me giggle (with you of course)

Tink said...

Sounds like she spent the first two years getting it out of her system and wa-la, an angel now! If it all worked the same for each of us!

ramsam said...

AHHH- all those memories and how much you have been through! Motherhood is such a sensitive gig!

My dad used to recite that rhyme to me all the time! It brought back a lot of memories to read it again!