November 2011 archive

The Almighty Tantrum

Unfortunately, the “ability to reason” stage comes after the “ability to tantrum” stage … a pretty big oversight by God if you ask me. Abraham has found the almighty tantrum and, although he never get what he wants as the result of a tantrum, he still tries. A lot.

I’m reading Dr. Brazleton’s Touchpoints throughout Abe’s toddlerhood and getting a lot of good information about his developmental path and my completely unreasonable and worthless reactions to his behavior. I read a section regarding tantrums and how they’re more about validation than about the so-called focus of the tantrum. I read the importance of letting Abe know I understand his disappointment or frustration by empathizing. Sound stupid? Yes. Did I try it? Hell yes.

While folding laundry in the bedroom, Abe found the computer plug coming from the wall. He followed it all the way to the outlet and began tugging on the plug. I took a deep breath. I got down next to him and said, “Abraham, danger! That’s dangerous!” and I pulled his hands away from it. He sat, bewildered. “Mom, why would you pull me away from the one thing I want to play with?” He didn’t cry. Just stared at me. Then he went right back for the plug.
“Abraham, no sir. That’s dangerous. You may not touch that.” I pulled his hands away again. This time he got the idea I wasn’t giving up, and he got pissed. He began to scream and cry and throw his little body onto the floor repeatedly from many different positions. Ordinarily I would walk away from him, but this time I got down as low as I could and started talking to him. I was super glad no one was around to hear me saying this in a serious tone:
“I know you want that plug, Abe. And if I were you, I’d want to touch it, too. It’s such an interesting looking thing and would probably make a great toy. But that plug has electricity and that’s dangerous for babies. It could flow through your body and cause all of your body systems to short circuit and you’d die. So you can’t touch it even though I know it means more to you than anything else today because mommy doesn’t want you to die.”
He still cried for another few minutes. But eventually, he came to and just stared longingly at the plug. The rest of the day I found Abraham sitting in front of the computer plug, but he never touched it again. It was as if he understood. Like it was an old flame who had moved on and gotten married. Maybe even had kids. The love was still there but he knew there was nothing he could do about it  now.
He still visits that plug today. When he’s passing by he stops to look and take a moment remembering the day he was able to touch that plug. But he’s moved on. He knows it’s best for both of them. And I’m proud of him for making the right choice.

Bloody Thanksgiving

We flew to California to be with our west coast family for Thanksgiving this year. It’s the second time Abe’s been to LA, but the first time he’s traveled anywhere after he could walk. (Did I mention he can walk now?) We were a little concerned about being those people on the plane. The ones with the screaming kid that everyone stares and shakes their heads at.
The first flight (only about an hour and a half) proved to be a little bit trying. Lots of screeching and squirming and crying. A woman in the row next to us CONTINUALLY asked us if we would like some Fruit Loops for him.

Approximately every 10 minutes:
“Would he like some cereal?”
“Are you sure he doesn’t want any of this?”
*Points at Toucan on box*
“Maybe he’s just hungry?”

Yes lady I don’t know on a plane, I’d like to feed my son a cereal made of pure sugar to help him calm down. You obviously have kids.

However, the second flight was amazing. Abraham sat in his own seat for all four hours, happily playing with the little toys I brought along, eating snacks, and watching Baby Einstein. (Dear Lord, God, and Baby Jesus, thank you for Baby Einstein.) In fact, I stared knowingly at those people on the plane 3 rows behind us. I feel your pain, parents. And I’m so glad we’re not you.

It took about 3 days for the child to adjust to pacific time, but once he did it was smooth sailing. Until Thanksgiving Day.

While he took a few steps on the pavement in the backyard, he stepped on his own pant leg. Daddy, trying to be helpful, grabbed the waist of Abe’s pants to pull them up, somehow creating a perfect see-saw out of my son. His face smashed directly into the pavement, manifesting the loudest, but heartbreaking scream I’ve ever heard. I ran outside to find my husband bewildered and my son with blood pouring out of his mouth. Am I exaggerating? Not really. It was pretty much pouring out of his mouth.
And while blood poured from his mouth, there are a lot of words that came pouring from my mouth. Words I won’t type or possibly ever repeat. By the time the bleeding stopped and the now-ruined Thanksgiving Day outfit was stripped from his body, I’d spouted so much profanity and creative ways of using the lord’s name in vain that everyone in the house slowly and silently backed away from me one step at a time like I was a very small but fierce bear in the wilderness. And that little lip puffed up to the size of a manicotti shell stuff with ricotta.

It was only a day later that Abraham snuck up on one of the dogs. No, the dog didn’t bite Abe. The dog just startled and huffed. My friend quickly reacted to keep a possibly volatile situation stable by putting her hand between Abe and the dog, catching Abe’s check with her nail in the process.  Remember the heartbreaking scream? It’s back. Not as much cursing this time. I felt a little wiser as the mother of a boy bleeding twice in 3 days. Just some Neosporin and a bottle.

So here he is, fat lip and scratched face. If you’re on our Christmas card list, you may get yours a little late this year. Our family picture day has been pushed back until further notice.

Please don't call DCFS on my mommy.

 

 

Eckhart

I’m in the middle of 3 blogs right now, but when this crossed my plate for about the thousandth time this morning I decided it wasn’t enough to read it, I needed to share it.
READ IT MOMS! And then name your next child Eckhart.

Many children harbor hidden anger and resentment towards their parents and often the cause in inauthenticity in the relationship. The child has a deep longing for the parent to be there as a human being, not as a role, no matter how conscientiously that role is being played.
You may be doing all the right things and the best you can for your child, but even doing the best you can is not enough. In fact, doing is never enough if you neglect Being.
The ego knows nothing about Being but believes you will eventually be saved by doing. If you are in the grip of the ego, you believe that by doing more and more, you will eventually accumulate enough “doings” to make yourself feel complete at some point in the future. You won’t. You will only lose yourself in doing. The entire civilization is losing itself in doing that is not rooted in Being and thus becomes futile.
How do you bring Being into a busy family, into the relationship with your child? The key is to give your child attention. There are two kinds of attention. One we may call form-based attention. The other is formless attention. Form-based attention is always connected in some way with doing or evaluating, “Have you done your homework? Eat your dinner. Tidy up your room. Brush your teeth. DO this. Stop doing that. Hurry up, get ready.”
What’s the next thing we have to do? This question pretty much summarizes what family life is like in many homes. Form-based attention is of course necessary and has its place, but if that’s all there is in the relationship with your child, then the most vital dimension is missing and Being becomes directly obscured by doing, by the “cares of the world,” as Jesus puts it. Formless attention is inseparable with the dimension of Being. How does it work?
As you look at, listen to, touch, or help your child with this or that, you are alert, still, completely present, not wanting anything other than that moment as it is. In this way, you make room for Being. In that moment, if you are present, you are not a mother or father. You are the alertness, the stillness, the Presence that is listening, looking, touching, even speaking. You are the Being behind the doing.
– Eckhart Tolle

Monster Mash

Ok, pretend it’s still Halloween and I got this post finished in time for it to be aptly named, Monster Mash.

Abe’s appetite is veracious. Sometimes I daydream about his stint on an upcoming episode of Biggest Loser: Toddler Edition. For lunch the other day he ate two hot dogs, a pile of sweet potatoes, pears, pasta, and a little corn for good measure. That was LUNCH. Keep in mind he ate breakfast, lunch, and 2 snacks during the SAME DAY. Where it’s going I don’t know.

The trouble is Abe is pre-spoon. I give him spoons. He chews on them. If I put food on a spoon he’ll eat it himself and then toss it on the floor. He just doesn’t see a need for a spoon full-time yet. This means he eats a lot of finger foods and I’ve felt some concern over the amount of veggies he can and will eat with his fingers. For example, if there is a hot dog on his tray with broccoli mixed in, he has no trouble picking out the hot dog and moving the broccoli to the side. Will he eat it eventually? Usually, yes. But not without being certain there is nothing left on the planet to eat.
So I started making mash-ups. (I watch a lot of Glee.) I steam a whole pot of vegetables and then use the hand mixers to mash them all together. I make sure there is one strong and sweet fruit in each mash to cover up things like spinach and zucchini. Tonight I steamed a sweet potato, half a peach, and a handful of broccoli florets. Another one was a pear, sweet potato, spinach, and cinnamon. Frankly, these mash-ups taste amazing. Like, I would stand in the kitchen and eat them. Like, I have.

And yes, I do have to feed it to him with a spoon. And yes, he does try to use the spoon himself and then ends up using his hands and getting mash all over his face. But either way I know he is getting all kinds of delicious veggies at every meal. Kinda sneaky, right?