Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Toddler fury

Over the past couple weeks Owen has begun to discover his inner rage. Yes, my one-time angel baby seems to be in that fledgling stage of learning how to tantrum. He’s only had one bruiser of a fit – about a week ago when he screamed inconsolably for 30 minutes straight and was especially irate when I tried to force him into his car seat as he arched his back and flailed arms and legs furiously. It was easy to chalk that one up to sleep deprivation – after an early wake-up that morning I’d been putting off his afternoon nap until after we went to pick Will up at pre-school.

But even when he’s well rested, Owen’s favorite new phrases are “No!” (shouted with much enthusiasm and accompanied by a swift swat through the air of both arms) and “I do.” And if we let him do, we’re able to avoid most meltdowns. So Owen is now in charge of buckling himself into his booster seat for eating and of snapping the final buckle on his seatbelt before we drive off. I’m only allowed to help him finish the task if he calls “help” after I’ve gotten myself into the driver’s seat. He pretends to brush his own teeth, after I dive in and get the real work done with one of those finger brushes designed for younger babies. And sometimes Owen even stands on a kitchen chair and washes dishes beside me, even though we always have to change clothes after that adventure.

The main things left for minor tantrums are those things that Owen can’t safely do himself. When he wants to borrow a steak knife from me, or the big scissors or glue from Will. When he wants to be up beside me cooking dinner when I’m handling raw chicken. And the list goes on of course. For now, a well-rested Owen is fairly easily redirected and his little bursts of frustration are short-lived. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep it that way most of the time and avoid the full-blown tantrums that his well named older brother used to struggle through in the height of toddlerhood. But just in case, I’m going to start gathering my patience.

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