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March 19, 2014

Stardate: Toddlerhood 001

I was under the impression that temper tantrums were delayed until at least 18 months of age, under the general jurisdiction of the Terrible 2s. How very wrong I have been. My son has discovered, as he nears his first birthday, the exact frequency at which his screaming sends me into a full nervous breakdown. He has also, since birth, understood that he can scream at volumes rivaled only by jet engines. He is and has always been loud. Very, very loud.

Throwing a shoe might feel like the most appropriate response to the noise, but hurling items at toddlers tends to be highly ineffective, as well as frowned upon. It also does not speak well for the self-control of the adult hoisting said flip-flop above her head.

So having thrown no shoes, books or other pliable items, the screeching continues. My son screams over dinner, his toys, his clothes, diaper changes, walks, snacks, milk, etc. He screeches for the simple pleasure and for the veritable hell it rains upon his parents.

I’ve tried reason, but the tiny irrational human does not respond to explanation, pleading or well-thought-out argumentation. He wrinkles his face, sucks on his fingers and wails on. He knows I understand his dismissal of my pleas.

But wait, a rice puff … Nom. Nom.

Redirection is often only a brief solution, a moment of respite while he stuffs his chubby face with whatever cardboard-flavored snack is within reach. When he realizes he’s been duped into ignoring his original madness, he re-ups with harpy-ish vengeance.

Tonight, his purple carrot dinner went from peaceful enjoyment of quality time with his father to, as I strolled by, an onslaught of hollering on par with the infamous sister of a Jeffrey Dahmer victim. She screamed because he ate her brother. I try to assure my son I’ve neither roasted nor eaten another human, and he should be calm. I’m met with a blank stare and only a pause in the noise.

There is a website: reasonsmysoniscrying.com. In it, I find comfort that I am one of many in an army of desperate parental units attempting to mitigate the level of crazy our basket-case children produce. The site isn’t limited to boys. It started as such but has expanded to include the mania of all mini-humans.

After dinner, my son, calm for a moment, toddles on little bowlegs across the living room to the coffee table, where he proceeds to pull whatever he can reach onto the floor. These things, of course, include items regularly found on tables like his coat, my coat, his sunglasses — which I try to retrieve, then stop and remember they cost only a dollar. The husband laughs, “Pick your battles, Mom.”

As I write, my son, now standing on my foot and attempting to push my notebook from my hand, looks into my eyes with adoration and the devious satisfaction of mischief achieved. I look for his kind soul knowing that despite his feigned innocence, in him lurks the mind of a mad genius drunk on the understanding that we will never be on his level.

And screeeeech! Why? Because he can.

I’m proud he is interested in his sunglasses, bought to protect his sensitive little eyes. I’m even happier that he is mesmerized by my work. Maybe one day, he will be a writer. Perhaps he will fill pages with stories about himself and his own heathens. I pause, wondering if it is ill conceived to call my future grandchildren heathens. Nope. I’m confident they have little choice in the matter. My beast may one day father and raise his own beasts, and he will find comedy, irritation and comfort in them, just as I do him. Maybe as he writes his tales, he will remember the look on my face as, in my mind, I place upon him the curse all mothers bestow upon their children: “I hope you have a child just like you!”

My mother said it to me. I’m only a year in, and I realize I was a fucking brat. I apparently was also adorable, but if my son is a litmus to understanding myself in the past, I’m in trouble. This boy may not speak many words or understand his behavior, but he knows how to drive me mad at the very same time he is filling my heart with more love than I ever knew existed. I hope he has a kid just like him.