Tantrums and Target

Edith has reached the tantrum stage. It took me awhile to realize that what she was doing was throwing a tantrum, because she goes to 11 immediately, as if she had been suddenly injured and for awhile I thought that was what it was, but I figured it out in short order. Whenever something doesn’t immediately suit her now, she shrieks at the top of her lungs and then continues until her face puckers into a moist purpled fruit. She will sometimes stamp her little legs or lie on the floor as if dead. She does this whenever I am doing anything slightly different to her plan for what I should be doing, which is about 100 times per day. (It has not escaped me that she does not throw tantrums with her nanny.)

I do not want to encourage this form of communication, so I spend much of my evenings lately studiously ignoring high pitched screaming, which isn’t my favorite way to spend time together of those we’ve tried. And if the fit is instigated by my doing something I don’t care that much about, like taking something she was interested in inspecting but which I have no objection to her playing with longer, it’s hard to remember not to just immediately give it back to her the way I’d drop something very hot I’d unknowingly picked up, which reinforces that screaming bloody murder is the way to request it back again. She also screams for inexplicable reasons — for example, every morning now when it’s time to leave the bedroom and come into the kitchen for breakfast, whereas she used to run happily over to her high chair and prepare for Cheerios, now she first spends a little time standing in the bedroom doorway screaming at the living room light.

No idea.

I think parents tend to overemphasize the aggravating parts of having children and fail to mention the good parts, so I will balance this by saying that, these spells aside, Edith is excellent company and a delight to be around. She is so much fun and makes everything more interesting. We had an excellent weekend — I have found the key to our enjoying our weekend is to over-schedule us out of the house. My goal is to have something planned for every quadrant of the weekend, and we’re 3/4 there. We have baby gym Saturday mornings, a new music class Sunday mornings, and swimming Sunday afternoons. I need something for Saturday afternoons, but there seems to be nothing. It’s the worst quadrant to have open, too, because it’s endless and it’s too hot and sunny to take her outside.

I have begun using it for errands, which I previously avoided, because I hate people and leaving the house, and so I did everything online. But it occurred to me recently that I was actively looking for something time-consuming and indoors to do with Edith, so this past Saturday we went to Target.

It was so much fun! Edith loved it. She was interested in everything, and while she was happy to ride in the cart and point at various things, making quietly fascinated remarks about them, I eventually let her down so she could run around a bit, and that really made her weekend. She trotted up and down the aisles, picking things up, pointing at things, and asking me questions about them. Then, she wanted to help push the cart, so we went up and down the aisles pushing it together and she worked very hard. I couldn’t ask for a better companion. Everyone should have a little kid! If I’d known they were this much fun to be around, I would have always had one.

I just wish she would talk! I’m not worried about it — well, at least, I don’t think I’m worried about it. I don’t know if I should be concerned or not. Moms are always saying things like, “this and that expert told me this or that, but I know my child and I know what he needs, and so I ignored them and I was right.” Moms are always describing their children as extensions of themselves and correctly predicting some condition or other based on very early indications.

Does this sort of certainty come later? I don’t know Edith at all, and I have no fucking clue what she needs. She is an utter mystery to me. To me, being her mom feels less like having replicated myself in some way, and more like I found a gorgeous, mystical, feral creature in the woods which has deigned to permit me to care for it until it learns to function in human society. When I watch her play, I feel like I am witnessing something elemental. My primary feelings toward her are akin to awe and gratitude, which is an odd way to feel about someone who shits themselves multiple times a day and expects you to clean it up. She has my eyes entirely and sometimes when I look at her, I experience the uncanny shock of looking into my own face, but even still, I don’t have any feeling of her being mine or an extension of me. She is absolutely her own person, and she hasn’t told me who she is yet. As my parents are always saying, she is completely different than I was even when I was her age (apparently I emerged from the birth canal reading a copy of the New Yorker and pleading for silence). But even if we were identical in temperament, how could I feel a sense of possession toward someone who is continuously separating herself from me by infinitesimal degrees, especially given that my entire job is to help her do it?

Anyway, I’m anxious for her to talk both because I’m so curious to hear what she’s thinking, but also because it might mean she screams at me less.


  1. Nindya says:

    When my youngest was a baby, she cried a lot. And not just a weepy-type of cry. It was full-blown scream, filled with rage and frustration. It felt like she saw something on the the news and went, “HOOOWWWW DAREEEE YOUUUUUUU?!” It took me an embarrassing 5 years later, when I watched a video of her crying (I recorded it for blackmail purpose,) and I realized she cried because she found out she couldn’t move her body (as in, crawling.) She saw everyone in the house moving around, especially with her big brother jumping around and giggling, and she thought, “Imma try to move so I can snatch that shiny stuffs on the top of the table!—HNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGG! What the— no move? NO MOVE? WHAT DO YOU MEAN I CAN’T MOVE?” Sure enough, once she managed to move, she calmed down a bit. Right now, I’m dealing with a little girl pointing to a Lego store and she’s saying one word: “Need.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Elizabeth says:

      Awww, that makes sense about the wanting to move around! Edith wanted to be at the same level as everyone else in the kitchen so was always begging to be picked up, and then we got her a high stool and that worked.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Zandy says:

    > Does this sort of certainty come later?
    It never comes! It’s all revisionist history! All parents are liars!

    > but also because it might mean she screams at me less.
    But the finding out about their thoughts is 100% worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s