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Don’t Make Me Angry, You Won’t Like Me If I Get…Part II

Here is another LTDism that I truly don’t know where it started. It occurs when he is really really mad. Like level ten meltdown mad. For example if you tell him to stop playing with something because it is time to go and you have to actually pick him up or take it away he gets his angry face on and through gritted teeth utters the following, “That’s not nice.” I’m talking he punches every syllable like he is holding a master’s class in overacting. And don’t get me started about what happens if you say it back to him in a sarcastic gesture to try and lighten the mood. On the one hand his signature mad phrase is funny but on the flip side is that our sweet little boy has the ability to get really angry in a seemingly adult way.

Get Me Monkey

I would like to break from the world of LTD for a moment and write about an experience of a friend of ours. More than a few months ago, while visiting her and her son (who is a couple of months older than LTD), we observed something interesting. Her son was either hungry or tired and had a minor temper flare up. She quickly said, do you want monkey? Her little guy nodded in the affirmative, yes please and she handed him a super soft stuffed monkey. At the time of our visit, LTD didn’t really move much and so his temper was pretty much in check, but our friend suggested we get our version of monkey for the future. She felt monkey acted as a sort of security blanket, something that could instantly calm him down. We discussed the pitfalls of relying on such a device and as new parents we both settled on the side of there not being much harm in it at such a young age.

Armed with this new theory of providing LTD a “safe” toy, we choose a super soft Winnie the Pooh and placed said plushy in his crib. We figured it would make a good version of our friend’s monkey and if it ever got lost it would be easy enough to replace, avoiding what I imagine would be the meltdown of the century. However, a strange thing happened while the little guy likes his Pooh he doesn’t love it and it never became his security blanket. Yet, while Pooh lives in the crib to this day, as a lone sentry guarding against threats both foreign and domestic, LTD doesn’t rely on it. Now that he is older the only thing that ends a tantrum is distraction, time or sleep.

The Penalty Box

During our 18 month check up, the doctor asked if I had any questions. I basically had only one, do you have any advice on discipline? He gave a slight chuckle and basically shared a few pieces of advice that he has learned over the years. The plan when dealing with a crazy toddler was pretty simple in theory if not in practice. It is all about distraction, distraction, and distraction. He suggested using the loud sharp, No, only for real scary situations such as when he is about to stick a fork in an electrical outlet. If he is just being mischievous use different warnings because after awhile the No would just become white noise. And if all this should fail to calm the beast? The so-called Time Out works with toddlers in the sense that it takes them out of the action. Of course it is also pretty much a Time Out for you, as you have to make sure they stay in one place. I have found the playpen makes a pretty nice temporary baby jail as most people don’t have access to Alcatraz.

However, the doctor’s most important advice came when we hit upon the subject of the dreaded temper tantrum, the kind that are sprinkled with a mix of kicking and screaming on top. The best tactic is to lose the battle but win the war. The toddler can scream and flip out longer than you can, in other words, you can’t match him at his level. You have to go on defense by excusing yourself to another location and calming yourself down or in his words doing a primal scream into a pillow. Once refreshed and hydrated you are ready to deal with the little guy for round two. So in the end like everything else in life it is important to just breathe.

Medusa Strikes Back

Before LTD was born I didn’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about childhood development. Traditionally, I divided kids up into two categories, I used to ask them if they liked Superman or Batman and if they didn’t understand what I was talking about then they were in category one and if they said, no dude, we love Wolverine then they fell into the other category. However, I did have a small awareness of the differences between babies, toddlers and first graders. Turns out I was pretty far off the mark. I really just thought all the tantrum behavior didn’t start until kids were two. Turns out it starts pretty early. What is my point? LTD loves pulling hair. Yours, mine and his own. He just loves it.

The thing about LTD’s hair pulling is that he doesn’t do it only when he is angry. Sure, he pulls when he is pissed and upset, but the truly annoying thing about his hair pulling habit is that he does it when all systems are normal. Of course in the nothing is every easy department, his hair pulling ritual seems to be mostly reserved for other toddlers. The outcome of these exchanges, when I can’t stop them in time, results in the kid crying and a parent giving me judging look. Sometimes they say, oh don’t worry about it, my kid does it too, but you know what they mean is, you are a monster and you are raising a monster. In the end there is very little I can do about it, like a lot of issues it seems the answer is, they will grow out of it. Until then I must remain ever vigilant.

You Suck

LTD isn’t really freaked out by too much as he learns about the world. However, one object he has never liked in all his time on Earth is the vacuum cleaner. After careful scientific research we have determined that it is the loud noise the vacuum makes and not the machine itself. His phobia hasn’t really been a problem as The Mommy usually takes him upstairs while I clean the downstairs. However, the other day The Mommy was away and the living room really needed a good cleaning. So I got out the vacuum and plugged it in, but left it off in the middle of the floor. LTD played with it for a while so I we stood next to it and I held his hand. I flipped the beast on and he immediately flipped out. My immersion therapy did not work and the floor went un-vacuumed until The Mommy returned. All the doctors agree that LTD isn’t really afraid of the Hoover he is merely letting us know that he isn’t ever going to do any housework allowance be damned.

Are You Telling Me Pretty People Don’t Pay?

LTD has begun a pretty new, awesome and exciting phase. A phase in which, randomly and with warning, he will flip out in his stroller or car seat in protest at being confined. This occasional behavior manifests itself when trying to put him in his car seat or after he has been in the stroller for a while. In dealing with the car seat drama The Mommy and I rely on a steady diet of distraction and patience. The good news about him yelling in the car is that when you are trying to put him in the seat and he screams, his mouth is usually right next to your year. Why is this good news? Because it makes your ears ring and your head hurt in such a way that when it finally stops you are happy to be alive and experience a calm spiritual moment of gratitude to the universe that the worst is over.

Flipping out in the stroller comes with its own set of challenges due to the fact that if he is in the stroller it means he is out among the public. Again, distraction works here, but sometimes you just have to move on which can be tricky if you are looking at or buying something. Last week, The Mommy and I decided to pick up dessert for an impromptu petite soiree we were having. We close to a Crumbs and so we duck in to get some cupcakes. The huge number of cupcake choices made the decision hard and we were in the store for longer than LTD would have liked. Just as I was finishing up, he let it be known to all that he was unhappy. He didn’t just scream, he also tried to break free from his stroller bonds. I quickly ran back to the counter and asked if they had a small plain cookie. The clerk said they had a small one with chocolate in the middle to which I said great and reached for my wallet. She said, don’t worry about it and gave the small cookie for free. Not only did the cookie silence the little guy it became proof of a universal truth in life. When pretty people pitch a fit they get whatever they want and for free.

Eruption

LTD hit his first year and so now his first year is hitting back. Welcome to first year molars and the little guy is not happy about it. When his front teeth came in he was in pain, but powered through it and his teething episodes didn’t last long. Well, things have changed. The front teeth with their shark shape cut through relatively quickly and with a certain aerodynamic flare. The molars, however, look like Mt. Everest and seem almost as big. When I look in LTD’s mouth and see the new tooth/mountain range forming my teeth start to hurt.

LTD usually gets a low fever when he is teething, but Tylenol seems to help. Another side effect of the teething process is LTD’s desire to bite and chew on anything that comes near his maw area. We definitely have a Jaws situation starting to occur and we definitely are going to need a bigger boat. Lastly, he wakes up for short periods for brief crying spells through the night. All in all not a big deal except when I go put his pacifier back in at three in the morning he goes right back to sleep and I’m up for another hour. Perhaps I should watch the Dwayne Johnson movie, The Tooth Fairy, I’m pretty sure that would put me right to sleep.

What is This Salty Discharge From my Eyes?

I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but I do know it was a little sad when I finally noticed it. LTD now has tears. There is something a little heartbreaking to see your child upset and screaming with tears streaking down his face for the first time. You get over it. Because he is still basically a baby he doesn’t generate a ton of water works or even mucus for that matter, I guess he is saving up for his first all out temper tantrum (an event I can only hope comes in a crowded store with hundreds of people staring and judging me). In fact, most of the time, like the Indian in the anti-pollution commercial, usually a lone tear flows slowly down his little face. The tear displays a quiet dignity in contrast to his ear piercing wails as he continues his long march towards manhood.

Super Bawl XLIV

LTD spent his first Super Bowl intercepting The Mommy and I from having a good time. He was cranky all day Sunday, but we figured getting out of the house would do us all good so we took a gamble and went over to my buddy Brian’s house to enjoy the game with his HD projector and huge screen. LTD spent the first half enjoying the festivities, then because he was rooting for the Saints and they were down at the half he got pretty angry. His meltdown began slowly as I walked around with him to try and quiet him down allowing me to only miss two big plays. As the game got more and more exciting he got more and more upset. The Mommy and I decided we would be enjoying the game from the car radio as we left Brian to not only watch the game, but listen to it without the screams of an angry baby.

We arrived home during the middle of the fourth quarter and once LTD was back in a familiar setting he was able to fall asleep with Winnie the Pooh in his crib. A few rounds of Motrin and Tums later The Mommy and I watched the end of the game. It was awesome that the Saints won, but as a father what made it nice for me was to see a teary eyed MVP Drew Brees holding his son on the field. What was even cooler was that some really smart person had his son wear big noise blocking headphones. Now if only I had thought of that.

The All-Nighter

sickIt took nearly eight months, but it finally happened LTD got sick. We are talking a minor stomach bug that gave him a small fever, a ton of poops and a crying jag that lasted almost the entire night. The Mommy and are in full zombie mode today and of course the little guy is acting like nothing happened. Thankfully, none of his symptoms were too severe and going to the doctor or ER didn’t seem necessary. LTD received his first drops of Tylenol and sucked the dropper dry, so I’m guessing that either he liked the cherry flavoring or Tylenol is his new gateway drug.

At four am, as his tiny face became one big open mouth used to shriek at the top of his growing lungs, I got to thinking about how difficult it must be for single parents to deal with the DEFCON 5 meltdown and if there are other kids in the house or some other bad situation, I can’t imagine how hard it is to deal with things without snapping. Believe me when I write that The Mommy and I both know how lucky are we are that LTD is healthy and we didn’t have our first fever for almost 8 months. I also realize how lucky I am that we don’t have poop all over the house since I have never seen so much of it and produced so quickly I might add. Now all that’s left is to clean his runny nose before he gets that gross dried snot look favored by sick babies in cartoons.