I’m convinced that toddlers are bipolar.
I don’t mean to make light of the actual mental condition–I know it’s very real, and very serious–but SO ARE TODDLER MOOD SWINGS. Dear lord.
Nora was such an easy baby. Seriously, she almost never cried. But then she turned one, and went all crazy. The tantrums were moderate at first, but they have slowly progressed to be the most ridiculously dramatic episodes of all time.
On Friday night, things escalated to an all new level. Nora had gone a few days with bad naps at daycare, and had been spending a lot of time outside playing. On both Thursday and Friday, she fell asleep in the car during the 10-minute drive home, which is saying a lot because she NEVER does that. I actually left her in the car to sleep for an extra 15-20 minutes or so once we were home in the hopes that it would hold her over until bedtime.
No such luck.
She was crabby as all hell, didn’t want to eat dinner, and just generally seemed exhausted, so Michael and I decided to take her up to bed early. As we were attempting to change her diaper and put her pajamas on–notice I said WE because it was a job for two–it was like wrestling an alligator. And then it was like a crazy switch was turned on, because she was literally screaming her head off and going insane. She had this insane look in her eyes and I actually kind of laughed in disbelief and said to Michael, “I think we need an exorcist!”
It was nuts.
No matter what we did–pick her up, put her down, give her toys, give her milk, give her books–she just kept screaming. We finally got her to calm down by putting on a movie for a few minutes, and then she went to bed without issue.
We went through a similar episode yesterday morning, but without the proposed exorcism. She didn’t seem QUITE as crazy, but she did scream and cry and roll around on the family room floor for a good 15 minutes because Michael dared to get her out of bed in the morning. She didn’t want to get her diaper changed, didn’t want to get dressed, didn’t want to eat breakfast. You get the gist.
We’ve been assured by the pediatrician that this is all normal, especially considering that Nora does not have more than a few words. I’ve done some reading on “manipulative” tantrums vs. “frustration” tantrums and I am damn sure that I can tell the difference.
Nora’s manipulative tantrums occur when something is taken away, or when we won’t let her do something she wants to do–like run into the street, or stay outside longer. She’s crying because she doesn’t get her way. With those, we can distract her, or ignore her, and she just gets over it.
The frustration tantrums are a whole different story. Sometimes, they are easy to solve because she’ll come running up to me, arms outstretched, just wanting me to pick her up. And when I do, she calms down. We talked to our pediatrician about this, and she said that in these cases, we SHOULD pick her up, because when she’s coming to us like that, it’s her way of asking us for help. But there are times when picking her up doesn’t help, and she just gets completely out of control. I’ve been reading about ways to deal with this, too, like holding them tight to help them regain that control. We’ve tried to just let her cry it out like a manipulative tantrum, but it just doesn’t work–that’s when we end up with her rolling around on the floor for 15 minutes, or charging at me like a crazy person (and when I pick her up, she just keeps screaming).
There have been days that are just hard. I’ve come to realize that this is just a part of her development, it’s a stage to get through. As all parents say, “This too shall pass,” and I know it will.
But today? Today was a good day. We have good days (or at least parts of days) frequently. That’s the funny thing: As challenging as she has been lately, she’s also been the most fun that she has ever been. As I’ve mentioned, we’ve been outside a lot, and she is just eating it up. She loves to swing and play with chalk on the driveway. She walks around aimlessly, and points at all of the dogs in the neighborhood while saying “TESSA!” (Yes, she thinks all dogs are “Tessas.”)
Nora has a sense of humor. She laughs when people burp. She smiles so big that her eyes close.
In short, she is amazing in every sense of the word. Amazingly difficult. Amazingly smart. Amazingly sensitive. Amazingly beautiful, inside and out.
It’s a rollercoaster, but it’s one that I’m thankful every day to be on.
AboutI'm Heather. I'm 31 and have been married to Michael for five years. Together, we have two beautiful little girls we love more than anything, and a miniature dachshund who drives us crazy. I'm a full-time working mom who has very little time for my own "stuff" these days, like home improvement, cooking/baking, cake decorating, and photography. Despite the team not making the playoffs since 1999, I'm STILL a Buffalo Bills fan, which I think speaks to my loyalty AND sense of humor. I can't wait to pick up the pace with travel again some day... you know, when we're done being ruled by tiny fists. Welcome to my blog.
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