Tantrums and the Crying Couch

Our new house has a fab reading/sun room from which Punditdad can read the paper, drink coffee in the morning and survey his tiny kingdom while getting some inkling of the coming weather that day.  The room is suitable for the Bean’s toys, books and whatever other crap she has in those boxes.  This is where we read her books in the morning after breakfast.

Normally, we all get up between 6:30 and 7 AM, I feed the Bean, grab some food and coffee for myself while she eats, then we retire to the sun room for some books.  We are still trying to convey that we cannot read books indefinitely, that there can only be 5 or so books read every morning. Not 20.  I like to read the daily paper in the DAY that I get it.

Normally, when I bring the Chicago Tribune up to my face, this indicates that the books are done.  Yet a small hand grabs my arm and pleads “Peeeeezzzz” which is please in Bean-talk.

If a suitable breakfast has been consumed, then the tantrum simmers to disappointment and the issue is over.  We go about our business and I only have to wait about 20 more minutes before something else is demanded of me. If an insufficient amount of food has been consumed then a tantrum usually ensues.

I don’t get particularly upset over tantrums when we are home. I simply leave her on the couch and  go to the next room.  Tantrums are not encouraged, tolerated or in my case, viewed.  I usually move to another room and drink my coffee.  Hey, she’s screaming, I have warm delicious coffee, so what? At home, nobody can here you scream toddler!

Screaming in public is different and usually she is better about that, only when pushed to the limit or starving like an Ethiopian vagrant.  I don’t blame her.  Ask Punditmom on a Sunday afternoon when I’m grumpy and hungry….I’m usually a few seconds away from crying and screaming myself. But at home, wandering around screaming and crying isn’t tolerated so I  have created the “Crying Couch”.  You sit there during crying and nobody bothers you but nobody is paying attention to you.  Scream all you want, my coffee is still hot and there’s  plenty of cream in the fridge.  Let’s see how the Sox did. Can you see I’m disinterested?

I try not to let tantrums affect me.  It’s only at mealtime that I go into a berzerker rage over an upset toddler.  My eyes roll back into my skull, my face turns fire engine red and my chest heaves like a epileptic.   This usually causes the Bean to dump her plate over the highchair.  I usually convulse all around, flopping like a fish on a dock.   She knows how to push my  buttons I’ll hand it to her.  But lately, my cold and sadistic side has won out.  The code word is “all done”?  If that is said, the plate goes away. Doesn’t matter if you had two bites or the whole thing.  Her word is law on this.  So if she is playing with her food or generally disatisfied with the choice and I ask, “All done?”. She is reticent to say yes.

Toddlers, though young and inexperienced, aren’t stupid.  They get hungry and want to eat.  If they know it’s going away or the rules will be enforced, then poof, they start playing by the rules.  Is it always black and white? No, but rules like All Done and the Crying Couch make my life a little clearer.  Crying and screaming? Do it on the couch.  Playing and yelling about your food? All done see ya later.   Makes my job a little easier each time.   Besides, my coffee is getting cold.

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Throw Up Isn’t So Bad

As a kid I used to think that throw up was gross.  Then during college I realized it was the body healing itself and Gawd punishing me for my sins.  Usually the sin of mixing wine with tequila or wine with anything actually.  If I got the evil out of my tummy I would feel much better the next day instead of rolling in agony all night.  Just get it out and over with.  While my post-collegial life has had limited barfing sessions, when they have occured, they are a welcome respite to the awful feeling of nauseau, stomach rummbling and general malaise that the pre-vomiting condition entails.  It sucks.  As it stands, before I had a kid I was actually pretty ambivilent about throw up.  I didn’t necessarily like it at all but welcomed it when it was over as a natural part of the “cycle of life” and other B.S.

Since having a kid I knew she was going to barf eventually and I wasn’t necessarily afraid, it just hung omminssly in the back of my mind.  I’m not talking spit up or any of that “little stuff” either. Well, our darling daughter has been supringly healthy for the first 20 months of her life, so the other day, when she at a huge raisin bagel with extra cream cheese I thought nothing of it.  During her nap I heard several screams but figured they were just her talking. Then the tone changed and, since it was about 2 hours into the nap, I figured it was time to get up.  She lay covered in dried vomit and had a very sickly gross palor.  I felt guilty for being reading the NY Times while my kid was throwing up but whaddya going to do sit outside her door?

Well, I thought, her comes the vomit.  But that didn’t bother me, it was the not knowing what caused the vomit that bugged.  Was it overeating? Did she gag herself? Did she just have a sick stomach? Dunno.  Anyway, in attempting to clean her up, she started to ralph on her back and I realized I was about to have a Jimi Hendrix Experience if I didn’t turn her on her side.  Daddy saves the day! Baby doesn’t choke on own vomit!  She dribbled some more out and all over me and in the tub where I was tempted to spray her down with the shower but realized that might ingrain some Karen Silkwood memory in her that would never be fixed.  With towels, a change of clothes and some hugs, we re-constructed the baby and got into a good zone.   We ate saltines  and water for a snack later because you know how hungry you are after throwing up right? Mom always swears by saltines and so do I.  Carry them everywhere.

I know some stomach bug is going hit our house some day and we’ll all be bent over the toilets but so far we’ve been lucky.  I can confidently say  I will be ok with it.  I’m prepared to clean up, hold heads up and wipe mouths clean and give hugs appropriately when called upon to do so.   Throw up isn’t so bad.  It’s all how you approach it.