One day you have a calm, if assertive, baby, the next day tantrums rapidly roil up like a tropical storm in the Atlantic ocean. These tantrums should have a name, like how hurricanes have names. You know, yesterday Tantrum Bethel hit us out of nowhere, today we experienced Tantrum Clara and it was tumultuous. Or, alternatively, you could name tantrums like how we used to name flues. I remember being small and telling someone that I had the “Ayatollah”, I also remember having the “Rocky 5” and the “Young and Restless”. Tomorrow’s tantrum could be called the “Assad” or even “de Olympics”, because certainly gold, silver and bronze awards should be handed out to parents who champion a tantrum.
I’m still overwhelmed by the gale force of a 20 month old screaming, “Don’t want it!”, and flailing everywhere while violently kicking anything in sight. I know I had a strong willed baby, I know she’s a bit “spoilt” and I know she likes to get her way, but when did my Ziya begin to channel this baby Godzilla?
I’ve devised various strategies, which mostly involve completely ignoring her, putting her in her crib if she gets unbearable, and insisting she say “sorry”. Yesterday, Zi had to tell her dad “sorry” for kicking him and tell me “sorry” for making a mess by, of course, choosing to unravel an entire roll of toilet paper in the 30 seconds I turned my back to do some laundry. Both times, she wanted to get back out of the crib so she apologised, but she was still vex. She didn’t do it that time, because she knew freedom was contingent, but often when she gets vex she’ll go hit something like the floor or a chair or the wall, or us. In teaching her not to hit anyone, because she doesn’t need to be that one-foot tall bully at day-care, she then decides to go fling something in order to assert her defiance.
When she hits something, she actually says, “Beat!” and when she runs across the room to find something completely out of her way to throw, she’ll make an “Ah!” sound like she’s delivering some kind of karate chop meant to establish territory in the face of marauding samurai. All I can think is, let this not be a sign of teenage times to come, insha’ allah.
I guess part of the “problem” is my refusal to hit her. I mean, I can’t teach her not to hit if I hit her, right? But it means setting rules in other ways, which is one thing, and then dealing with her reaction, which is another. I’m prepared to ride out the bawling, but sometimes I get why parents shake their kids or, like “mommy dearest”, lock them in closets. You just want the screaming to stop. Anyway, whatever it takes, I’m prepared to ride out this storm without resorting to violence of my own.
Indeed, after she calmed down yesterday, Zi quietly climbed on the bed, softly asked me to sing her “baa baa black sheep” and to read her a book. We then lay down to read head to head in calm joy.