Days Like These

October 19, 2006

And then come days like this when I seriously consider my desire to have another baby.

PJ is in his room throwing a total hissy fit. The tantrums have been coming more and more often, but never this early in the day and never when he’s so well-slept. He screamed the moment he woke up from his nap. He screamed on and off through his bath, his favorite time of the day. He screamed through the diapering, lotioning, and dressing that followed. He even screamed when I brushed his hair, which has never happened before. He wants something other than what he’s getting, and I have no clue what it is. Not that I’d cater to him even if I knew what he wanted.

I’m beginning to remember what it was like in those early days with him, when he cried non-stop for no reason. I remember the devastating depression that hit me, especially when I was incapable of stopping the crying. It was always worst in late afternoon, like right now, because it was right at the end of the workday, the time I had to handle him solo. Once M got home and did what he could to help me, the hopelessness left somewhat. And now it’s all coming back to me again–the memories at least. The depression is holding off for now…although if the tantrums continue, I may not be able to hold it at bay for long.

I remember yelling at my too-small, too-young infant in his early days, simply because he wouldn’t stop crying. I hate myself for it. I hate that I thought yelling back at PJ would actually help anything. It was out of sheer frustration, I realize, but that doesn’t alleviate the guilt. And today I found myself speaking much more sternly with him than I have in a long time. I managed to hold back the full extent of my fury, but only just barely. I don’t know. Maybe he’s old enough now to understand me when I do get upset with him. Still, I never want to have to yell at him. Ideally, he would behave all the time so that I never even get the temptation to raise my voice.

But just like his mommy, PJ has an independent streak in him. I wish sometimes that he could talk and tell me what he wants so that I wouldn’t have to hear the crying, but I know words won’t squash that independence. It is just trading one frustration for another. In another year I’ll lament why he ever learned the word no, and in another fifteen I’ll wish he’d never learned to talk at all.

I think this all has to do with my own response to PJ, not his behavior alone. I can’t control his behavior or his tantrums, but I can control my reactions to him. And how exactly do I expect him to learn not to scream at me when he’s upset if I scream at him when I am? I hate to do it, but my technique of avoiding him altogether during his tantrums seems to be a better approach right now. He’s already starting to quiet down now…now that he knows I’m not going to rush in there and do whatever he wants. I’m much more responsive to him when he’s not crying, so now he’s not crying. I think it’s time for some positive reinforcement.