Fri 11 Feb 2011
she is almost exactly half his age.
this occurs to me as they are going to sleep. bedtime is a bit of a cacophony these days, punctuated by singing, bouncing, and shouts of Mamaaaa!! from the smaller one.
we made a mistake, one night, a month or so back.
we broke the cardinal rule. we went IN when shouted for, because one had been sick and we were weak and foolish. o ye who hear the words of my mouth, take note: IF you have a cardinal rule, whatever it is, do not break it. because then your ass is forfeit. ahem.
our wily daughter has not forgotten. for awhile, her brother egged her on: they share a room. but it got tiresome for him, the chatter and howling of his sister’s newfound nighttime rebellion. the Oscar, hey buddy, hey buddy Oscar are you SLEEPING?!? hey OSCAR!! makes me shake with laughter as i stand outside their door, my voice a melllifluous drone of uber-calm. but it gets to him eventually and then we have two of them shouting, back and forth.
they are both on the cusp of a whole new frontier of emotion these days. Posey’s is wild abandon, fury expanding outward. a plate was broken. tantrums are thrown. one night, we were woken at 1 am to the shrieks of a small child raging in her sleep. we lifted her from her crib and tried to bring her into bed with us: she leapt free and – still asleep – wailed the shit out of our laundry pile before suddenly subsiding hotly in my arms, a limp and sweaty bundle.
Oscar, too, is dealing with anger, but directed anger. even at two, he never tantrumed. for him it is not sheer limits but perceived injustice – disappointment – that cannot be suffered with equanimity. last week, after a speech therapy appointment at an unaccustomed time, we took our ritual trip down the elevator to the snack shop, anticipating our ritual snack. the shop was closed. apparently they board up the place at 3pm.
my boy was beside himself, almost literally. i watched his mind ping and pong from possibility to possibility, and as he came to terms with the fact that the locks were locked and there was nobody there, he exploded. like a small, righteous rhinoceros, he lowered his head and glared. he stamped. i saw the shout build up in him like a steam piston and it blew over me and my ears rang. this child, who’d never shouted in public in his life. and i took him by the arms and looked straight into his face and then, i couldn’t help myself, i laughed.
not unkindly. with full recognition, because he is so much like me sometimes it pains me. Oscar, i said, i’m sorry, buddy. i’m sorry they’re closed. i know you’re disappointed. but you CANNOT shout at me. you cannot shout just because you don’t know what else to do. i wish i could tell you what to do with it, all that fury, that frustration. but you need to find a way not to take it out on other people. can i help?
he glared. then we practiced stamping our feet until we felt better. i showed him what his face looked like when he was made like a rhinoceros. he laughed. then we went elsewhere for a snack.
we abide. it all will pass. someday i will say, lay your head on your pillow, honey, and Mama will rub your back and behold! my girl’s small body will prostrate itself. i believe this. someday, maybe, my boy will look disappointment square in the face and do better with it than i ever have. i hope this. we are learning together.
still, last night as i listened to the fading protests – the last burst of energy from Posey as she bounced up and down singing O My Darling Clementine, which she believes to be about our cat – i realized, she’s a big girl now.
and cribchronicles will soon be without a crib. perhaps tantrumchronicles.com is an available domain?
Dave’s father is building Oscar a twin bed for his birthday in April. if bedtime returns to a dull roar by then, Posey will inherit his toddler bed.
it’s time, past time. they both seem so big.
when we brought her home from the hospital, tiny and wizened, barely six pounds, he was the age she is now. his was a quieter two, less verbal, less bouncy. yet in both of them, a strong, strong streak of sweetness at this age. i remember how huge his hands seemed suddenly, when he held her miniature fingers. i remember how he patted her and giggled, how i wondered what they would be to each other, how i hoped.
last night, as i heard the last little hey Buddy, night Buddy! peeps from through their door, and his world-weary but gentle goodNIGHT, Posey in return, i thought, we’re doing okay.
what’s bedtime like at your house? how do you help your children deal with anger?