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.