Some first-rate tantrums

by J on May 17, 2010

Here at Stadler Headquarters, there’s at least one of us known for strong preferences, insistence on getting our own way, and occasional unwarranted stubbornness. You could say that what Simon inherited in appearance from one parent, he inherited in temperament from the other (or perhaps from both, but here at Stadler Headquarters we try not to cast aspersions on each others’ temperaments, in most cases).

This has proved very charming indeed in some situations, where Simon demonstrates strong preferences for things like strawberries and cheese, or persists in climbing up onto the couch when we only expect him to go halfway. But there are other scenarios where Simon exercises all his tenacity to demand something that, well, just seems not to warrant one of his First-Rate Tantrums.

As near as we can tell, the most recent 4 tantrums (in the past 24 hours) have been attempts to communicate the following:

  • I want a cracker! Shopping for curtains is boring and I hate it!
  • I threw my ball and I didn’t see where it went! Now I can’t find it!
  • I thought I was going to get x, but you are offering me y (where, say, x = milkshake bottle* and y = clean diaper)!
  • This playground baby swing I thought was so great two days ago is scaring the pants off me!

Now, we’re not talking fussing or whining, but full-out wailing, back-arching, kicking screaming. About…a plastic ball? It’s so hard to take seriously, but I usually feel bad for laughing.

When he’s not in the middle of throwing a tantrum, Simon seems to be trying to communicate more. He’s kind of quit using his three baby signs (although when I asked him yesterday what he wanted for breakfast, he did sign for his milkshake bottle). But now that his ear tubes are in, he’s hearing a lot better, and as a result, listening more intently. When he’s fussing, and I start guessing what he wants (“Are you all done? Do you want water?”) he perks up, smiles, and says “hah!” or “uh-huh!” when I guess the right thing. So that’s usually helpful.

*milkshake bottle: Now that Simon has turned one, his dietitian wants him to use a toddler formula rather than an infant formula. So we’ve switched from a relatively easy-to-mix powder to PediaSmart**. Toddler formulas are designed to give supplemental nutrition up to age thirteen, so they’re packed with sugar in order to make them appealing enough to drink. And I get that. But I wish there were an option to offer my baby that weren’t labeled “vanilla” or “chocolate.” In any case, we now refer to the formula as milkshake, because that’s what it looks and smells like.

**Making a bottle of infant formula involved scooping and shaking. Making a bottle of PediaSmart requires using the kitchen scale, a whisk, and incrementally pouring and mixing the water and powder together, while whisking vigorously. I think it’s stupid, plus I hate it. We considered using the ready-to-drink equivalent, but I prefer the powder because it’s easier to discretize. Sometimes, I want to offer only, say, six ounces of milkshake bottle, and since I am a math teacher (sometimes), I can handle the proportion, and then I don’t have two ounces of liquid milkshake languishing in the refrigerator. More than anyone needed to know, but that’s why it’s down in a footnote.

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