First of all, to my loyal readers, I apologize for the hiatus. Over the past few weeks, I have been diligently working on a career advancement in an effort to be the best husband and dad that I can. I’ll probably dedicate a separate post to the career situation, but for now, on to the subject matter at hand, the child:
Well, it’s finally happened. We knew the time would come. In fact, it seems like every parenting hurdle we’ve encountered has been on the radar beforehand, yet somehow we were still caught completely unprepared. This is as true now as it was when the teething nightmares began. So what is it?
Toddler-ness. The terrible twos, they’re called, but really, it begins much earlier. Technically, the kid isn’t even “toddling” yet…but she’s exhibiting all of the classic symptoms. Every day it seems like she’s becoming less of a baby and more of a kid. What this means is that “normal” developmental stage is upon us, where the baby has figured out exactly how to push our buttons. But she’s so damn cute! It kills me!
I keep asking myself how such a beautiful angelic child could also be so demonic. Would you guess there’s a demon lurking within?
We are being manipulated. I say we, but really, my poor wife is the primary target of Vivienne’s machinations. She has perfected the art of screeching, locking in on the perfect pitch and resonance to send us into throes of panic and galvanize us into a frenzy of action to satisfy her id. If that weren’t enough, the screeching is usually timed around either immediate demands, or, God forbid, Jax stepping away from the immediate vicinity for more than two seconds. We’ve spent some time looking up solutions on the internet, but to no avail. We must patiently wade through this situation as we have others, with placid and stoic determination.
At least, not for Jax. Being the “stronger” of the two of us, I have been very good about allowing the screeching to happen, all the while redirecting and insisting that the baby use some kind of words or phrasing to express her desires. Even simple language like “ta” or something, which grandma Jo inspired. I say stronger only because I think my patience for the screaming is greater than my wife’s for the simple fact that I’m not around the kid and her banshee mimicry all day long.
Lately I find myself caving more quickly, too. I think Jax has it harder and I have tremendous respect for her for spending days on end with this creature who is so utterly clingy. At first endearing, you quickly realize that the origin of the term “the old ball and chain” is not just reserved for deadbeat spouses, but also children who emulate barnacles in their clingy behaviors.
Naturally, this begets worry. Something I have all too quickly learned as a new parent is that there is NEVER a shortage of things to worry about. “Is she eating enough?” “Why isn’t she walking yet?” “Does she have enough words for her age?” “What are those strange bumps on her arm?” “Why won’t the rash on her foot heal?” “Are we handling this right?”
We do this worrying clucking dance almost weekly it seems, getting worked up and then talking ourselves down…convincing each other that everything is fine. Highs and lows. It’s gotten to the point that we may even be worrying about whether we are worrying too much. Oy. Speaking of “oy”, perhaps this worrying stuff is really just the Jewish condition, and whether through genetics or osmosis, we have continued in league with generations of Jews past.
Anyway. Separation anxiety. I really thought this clingy behavior was reserved for my wife, to whom the little munchkin has become quite attached. This morning proved me wrong. Witness chronology of this morning’s events:
6:04 AM: Baby wakes up. Makes some noise, possible talking to self. Ignore.
6:08 AM: Talking appears to be taking a turn toward whining. Still not urgent. Ignore.
6:15 AM: Whining has crescendoed into a full blown wail, directed at us. Wife stumbles out of bed in a groggy stupor to fill a bottle of human growth hormone, err..toddler formula (are they the same thing? One is corn-derived, the other isn’t?)
6:16 AM: Wife returns with now sated child, happily sucking away on her bottle. Plops baby into center of bed with several books and toys. We semi-tune out.
6:40 AM: I am awake. Somehow I can’t seem to remember anything that happened between 6:16 and now, but it has been relatively quiet so I assume all is well. I have vague dream-like recollections of being smacked in the face by a book a number of times.
6:43 AM: I hop out of bed, a spring in my step. Time to shower. Baby registers my impending departure. With arms stretched out she gives me that pleading look: “Take me with you!”. So I do, and she’s elated. Only. It’s a trick. My inner geek celebrates the triumph by replaying the scratchy voice of Gollum from Lord of the rings: “Trickssssy hobbitses!” Tricksy indeed. I wander around to the other side of the bed and plop her down on “mommy”. Screams of protest. I quickly sidestep out the door and close it. A muffled choking sob-wail sound follows immediately. My heart sinks just a little bit and I plod over to take my shower.
6:52 AM: Grateful for the sound of running water and bathroom fan for drowning out the sounds of baby sorrow, I return to the room where I am greeted by a warm bouncy smiling child. Again, arms outstretched. I decline, opting instead to get dressed. Screeching wails. Rinse. Repeat. Five full minutes of this while I finish dressing.
6:58 AM: Fully dressed, I cave in and go pick her up. She extends her arms to accept my embrace. As soon as I pick her up, I feel her tiny little peanut body relax as she snuggles into me. I caress her back and run my paw through her hair. I am humbled, and find myself wondering how I resisted so long in the first place.
7:04 AM: I set her down on the bed, kiss her on the forehead, and then kiss the wife goodbye. Within seconds Vivienne tenses up and the screeching begins anew. I practically sprint from the room, hoping my wife can calm the kid down. Only, not before she gives me one last pleading look. Shesh, I thought this stuff was reserved just for “mommy”.
Other parents: What are some of your best “toddler tricks”? We’re still figuring it all out!
To conclude, I leave you with the following clip: