Saturday, April 23, 2011

14 months or 14 years?

I love me a good temper tantrum.  I feel so invigorated and ready to move on to the next problem of the day after a good yell, cuss, and stomp.  My mother loves to tell me how awful I was in public places, especially the grocery store.  I would throw myself down and scream hysterically while kicking and flailing; she would step over my body and continue on to the next aisle.  Sensing my audience was gone, I would hightail it to that aisle and resume the unbridled rage of a pissed off toddler.  Knowing my mother as well as I do, she probably gritted her teeth, muttered some cuss words, and kept moving...until she'd had enough.  Then it was the death grip on the upper arm, with her unbelievably strong nails dug in for good measure.  She had her box of wine to look forward to at the end of a day with me.  I fully acknowledge she deserved that wine, and then some.

Karma has no statute of limitations.

When Cam was a teeny little newborn we nicknamed her "The Angry Hornet", because when she got upset about something, it was out of nowhere, a rage filled cry, and then gone once soothed/fed/changed.  It scared us into action, and a few moments later we were always laughing.  Impressed with our new daughter's spirit.  The nickname was dropped after a month or so, as Cam became aware that we were at her beck and call. 

My heretofore sweet, easy-going baby, has learned she has free-will and she's pissed she can't exercise it.  Campbell has shocked and scared me nearly shitless a number of times over the last week.  The sheer force and energy is like a tornado, sucking life out of the room.  Whatever hyperactive energy I have from my ADHD is leveled by the time she has released her fury.  Last week, while on one of our many trips to Target, I was perusing the baby goods, sipping my peppermint hot chocolate from the Starbucks, when out of nowhere Cam screamed so loud and angrily, I thought she was on fire.  After checking that she wasn't, my next inclination was to run far and fast.  My mind reeled.  "WHAT THE FUCK?!?!" left my mouth, not quietly.  I looked at her clenched fist, and in that split second she threw the empty carcass of a smoothie I literally JUST gave her at me.  The screaming baby and her swearing mother got the attention of two other mothers and their baskets full of kids standing in close proximity.  One gave me a withering look and scuttled away, the other laughed a knowing laugh, and gave her own two kids the death stare as she pushed past.

Unaccustomed to being assaulted like that, I ran back over and grabbed another off the shelf and gave it to her.  This time I watched my baby suck the contents out in one big gulp.  I gave her another, same thing.  I gave her another, and the screaming stopped, but she eyed me with contempt for the rest of that trip.  To be fair, I have conditioned my child to expect food and beverage while at Target.  Once she learned that what I was drinking was tasty (isn't it cute the baby likes whipped cream?!?), she squealed and lunged for my Starbucks every time I got one.  So I thought in my infinite wisdom I'd buy her a chocolate milk.  It's organic!  Of course it's a good treat!  First time I poured that milk into her sippy cup and handed it to her, she gulped it all in one sitting.  Never letting the cup leave her mouth.  My inner addict was alarmed, but I just thought "hey, she really liked that, how cute!".   It dawned on me a few weeks later, and a cow's worth of moo juice in my kid, perhaps all that sugar is a bad idea.  That little carton of organic goodness has the same amount of sugar as a can of Coke.  Yikes.  So, after her outburst over the smoothie, I loaded up my cart with a bunch of them. Smart, no?

No more outbursts like that until yesterday.  Cam sat in her high chair finishing up lunch while I cleaned the kitchen.  I gave her two little graham cracker sticks.  She polished those off, and started pointing (so damned SMART, that kid!) to the container that held the sticks.  We have been doing baby sign language for at least 10 months, a few days ago she showed us she knows the sign for more.  So when I asked her to do the sign for more, she complied, and I gave her another stick.  You see where this is going, right?  She gobbled that stick up, and started signing again.  "Nope, sorry Cam, lunch is over."  She started signing furiously, this time, really defining the finger movements (before it was a lazy gesture), "No more, Campbell, all gone."

She started rocking, and then SLAMMING her body back and forth so violently in that chair, I rushed forward to grab her before the chair either split apart, or she launched herself out of it.  Then the arching of the back/kicking/ flailing of arms/and my personal favorite, the head butt.  I didn't know what to do, so I put her on the ground, but she refused to stand, so I laid her down, which got her even more pissed.  I needed to walk away.  She got up and followed me, as did Karma.

This went on for 30 more minutes.  I tried reasoning ("this is unacceptable Campbell, stop it right now.  Lunch is OVER."), I tried holding and hugging, finally I just let her lay on the ground and SCREAM.  Every few minutes the intensity would wane, and I'd offer her my hands to help her pull up into a sit.  As soon as her back would come off the ground, the fury would start all over again.  I was shell-shocked by the time Rob came home.  Any time after that, if I tried putting her down, or walking more than a foot away from her, all hell would break loose, so I just sucked it up and held her.

So when Cam woke up from her nap today, and was already in a foul mood, I had to bite the bullet and drag her with me to the store.  Her father has been working crazy, long hours, so my hopes were dashed for a reprieve from The One Who Screams.  We got to the front door, I had in my arms:  23 pounds of surly toddler; the diaper bag; my keys; a mug of tea; an umbrella; and an extra cloth diaper (don't ask why it wasn't in the diaper bag).  I am someone who cannot/will not come back for anything.  I will die from a broken neck on day, because I will have been hauling 42 bags of groceries, a cat, my purse, and a cup of tea, and I will trip from the unwieldiness of it all, and because a Pug will be underfoot.

So at the front door, I pause to grab the door handle and feel wet all down my front.  I forgot to close the top of my travel mug.  I was now wearing almost the entire mug.  I thought for a brief moment that I would just endure the wetness, hell it was already raining, but vanity and stupidity won out.  As soon as I stepped one foot back in the door, Cam decided to freak the fuck out.  Again.  She had already melted down twice in the ten minutes it took me to grab her from her crib, change her diaper, and get to the door.  Shall I explain how the rest of the afternoon and evening went?

I thought about calling my mother to apologize for the years I took off of her life, but decided I couldn't stand to hear the laughter.

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