Friday, August 14, 2009

It's okay to have a tantrum

Well, I experienced Jonah's first full-blown temper tantrum today. I thought we had seen little tantrums before, but now I know that Jonah has never really had a tantrum before today.

So, this is what happened today:
Jonah spent the morning with my friend, Jeannie, and her son, Max, who is one of Jonah's best friends. (Jeannie and I swap babysitting each week.) When I arrived to pick him up, Jeannie was just walking up to her house pushing the boys in the double stroller. Well, it wasn't even 11:30 a.m. and Jonah was asleep in the stroller, his head slumped over. "He fell asleep about three blocks ago," Jeannie said. He hasn't crashed that early in a long time, especially not while he's out and about in a stroller with another toddler! When I tried transferring him into his car seat, he woke up in my arms. That was fine with me since he hadn't been asleep very long. I figured he would either fall back to sleep in the car and I'd drive him around for a while or he'd stay awake on the way home, where I would feed him lunch and then go through the normal nap routine at home. As I walked him to the car, he started crying and pointing at Max's house. I decided to go back to Jeannie's and see if he wanted to nurse, hoping that would cheer him up and make the ride home go more smoothly. After we were finished, he started playing with some of Max's toys. Max was already eating his lunch so I made a quick exit despite Jonah's protests. Nothing unusual here, though. He sometimes protests leaving Max's house. He loves it there!

I finally got him into the car. He cried for a few minutes but quieted down when I gave him a CD cover to play with. But, soon, he threw it aside and started crying again, harder this time. I tried singing all of his favorite songs, hoping to cheer him up or distract him, but instead of bobbing his head along to the tune, he yelled in protest after a the first few lyrics. He rejected Old McDonald, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, The Itsy Bitsy Spider and even Wheels on the Bus! At this point, I just turned up the radio and concentrated on getting home.

Parked in front of our apartment, I started getting him out of the car seat, but he fought me, pulling the straps back onto his shoulders like he wanted to stay in the seat. I got him out of the car, despite his yelling and kicking. He cried loudly as I carried him to the door. He flailed around a lot but I held onto him until I got to the top of the front steps, where I had to put him down since I was juggling two bags and a set of keys. As soon as I put him down, he kicked and screamed and nearly slammed his head on the cement but I stopped him with my hand on the back of his head. I kind of had to drag him in the entry way -- he was all floppy and kicky at the same time. When I closed the door he tried opening it like he wanted to go back out, all while crying and yelling, snotty-nosed and red faced. Same thing when I got him in the apartment. Once inside, when I took off his shoes he tried putting them back on, while crying and yelling and clearly frustrated that he couldn't do it. He rolled around kicking and crying on the floor. I had a few moments of panic, not really knowing what to do. None of my tricks were working. Distraction wasn't working. Trying to cheer him up wasn't working.

Finally, I got him into his bedroom, turned off the lights, closed the shades, turned on the white noise machine and sat in the rocker. I figured if I could just nurse him, he would calm down. Well, he refused. Another feeling of panic! This was supposed to be my ace in the hole.

But then, I realized that it was useless to try to distract him or make him do something he didn't want to do. So, I just held him. I realized that he just needed to feel safe and secure. I needed to just hold him and let him know that it was okay to feel this way. I looked at him and said, "It's okay to be angry. It's okay to feel bad. Mama is here and you are going to be alright." I said it a few times. His sobs finally slowed down and he looked into my eyes. We connected and he seemed to understand. Finally, he nursed. Then, he pointed to the door, which I opened for him, and trotted happily down the hall into the living room to play with some toys. I gave him his sippy cup and made him lunch, which he ate heartily. After lunch, we went back into his room and read his current favorite book "The Taxi Dog." We didn't even finish the book before he asked to nurse. He quickly fell asleep and slept for nearly two hours.

When he woke up, he was very groggy and a little grumpy. I didn't fight it when he wanted to wear his Hawaiian shirt with his truck pajama pants and no shoes outside.

A few factors probably contributed to the tantrum. He is sleep deprived because he has been sick and is still not 100% over his cold, combined with his "do-it-myself" attitude of late. On top of that, he hasn't had much of an appetite lately due to feeling under the weather. If I was as tired, hungry and sick feeling as he has been, I would probably have a tantrum to. I probably have had one in the past 19 months!

I guess I should be thankful that we didn't see this sort of thing until he was almost 20 months, right? Phew. I'm just glad it's over. At least for now. ~ Nicole