It’s been a bit of a trying week around these parts – we seem to have entered a phase where temper tantrums are becoming a commonality. It started on Tuesday, when I found McKenna playing with a bobby pin she had found on the bathroom floor – I did the good old ‘grab a toy and replace’ method, but instead of being easily and happily distracted by new found toy, she erupted into a shriek and dissipated into tears in a matter of milliseconds.
“What the heck?” was my first thought – this has never happened before. I had no clue how to react. This was one of those situations I didn’t think I would be dealing with until a much later age, not when my baby was a mere 9 months – 9 MONTHS – of age. Needless to say, I stood there shocked for about a minute before I regained my senses. I then walked out of the room.
At first, she was shocked with my reaction – it was her first premeditated cry, and therefore the first time in her existence that I have essentially walked away from her while upset. But in about two minutes, she relaxed, and I went to her, asked her if she wanted to come “up”, to which she reached her arms towards me. I stared into her blue eyes and she gazed into mine. And just like that, we made up.
The second tantrum came at bedtime. Just as she was peacefully drifting off to sleep, she rolled over and was completely outraged to find that a blanket in her way making her incapable of doing so. Her face immediately went red, and she once again erupted into a series of shrieks and tears. Once again – what the heck? What is going on here? And most importantly, HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?
When I was younger, I was infamous among my family for my temper tantrums. I’m actually surprised they still talk to me, after all those years of bratty-ness. I remember several conversations on the phone with my Auntie pre-holidays where she would tell me to be good, be kind to my mother, and that she would be checking in on my progress once we returned. Try as I may to be good, I had a very short temper and a flare for the dramatics. I cringe when I think of those days, those days of throwing myself on the floor and crying in a state of absolute fury – for basically no reason. My poor mother.
After talking with other mothers and her pediatrician at her 9 month appointment yesterday, I have come to the conclusion that my daughter is not only highly intelligent and using this intelligence to test her boundaries (cause and effect; if I drop my sippy cup on the ground, will Mum always pick it up again? If I cry, will Mum always come and comfort me immediately?) ; she is also most definitely beginning to feel frustration over her limitations. She is craving independence; she has made it clear by her endless attempts to pull herself up on furniture, which will be followed by a huge milestone – walking (seriously. What the heck happened to my newborn baby!). McKenna has been seeking more independence from the day she was born – she always hated being rocked, doesn’t really like to cuddle unless tired, was holding her own bottle by 5 months, and has always preferred to self-feed versus being spoon-fed. Now, more than ever, she realizes how close she is to that major milestone of independence – walking – and she just wants it to happen. And happen NOW.
I understand her frustration, and I foster her desire to be independent. Being able to understand where she is coming from when she loses her temper is helping me with my patience. Although I do not give into her when she is throwing a temper tantrum (especially seeing as this would require me to allow her to play with things that are choking hazards), she is nowhere near the age where discipline is necessary or required, in my opinion. So for now, I have elected to react by simply walking away and allowing her those few moments to regain her composure, and returning to her once she has settled to make sure she knows everything is okay, and that her Mum still loves her. And always, always will.
That being said, I can’t help but think of what is without a doubt in my future – a time where discipline will be required. I also can’t help but think of 5 letter word – karma for all I put my mother through in my childhood days. My only saving grace may be the fact that Matthew’s family tells me time and time again about what an “angel” child he was. Quiet and content. Maybe the two will cancel each other out? Time will tell.. but I can’t help but wonder if there is a certain angel up in heaven having a good-natured chuckle about what lies in the days ahead. :)