When I was younger, I had tantrums. I would scream and yell and kick with wild abandon. And, once I had gotten worked up, nothing could bring me down but time. My family just had to wait me out. When I would finally settle down enough, my mother would come in and rub my back to help calm me the rest of the way down. I remember two episodes specifically. One when I was around 6 or 7, and the other when I was about 9 or 10. I couldn't tell you now what I was upset about, but I remember vividly the tantrum.
In the first, my mom shut me in my room to let me scream it out and I tossed a plastic snow globe of mine at the door. It broke and water spilled, but it made a great "thunk" noise against the door and, in my mind, perfectly punctuated how mad I was. Once I was calm, however, I was sad and frustrated with myself that I had broken a snow globe that I really loved. It is the last time I remember breaking something in anger. The screaming fits took longer to stop, but, as far as I can remember, the throwing things ended there.
During the second, I was screaming at the top of my lungs. My mom made me sit on the steps in the garage and shut the door and told me I could not come out until I was done screaming. The rest of the family then moved to the other end of the house. I made sure they could still hear me. I actually remember trying to scream louder so that they would still be disturbed. The internal dialogue was something like, "Oh yeah? You think you can stop me just because you put me in the garage? Nuh uh!" But, as would always happen, I reached the point where I just didn't have the energy to scream anymore, or where my voice left me. Either way, once the screaming stopped, I could take a few breaths and, ultimately, calm myself down and return to world.
I don't remember when they finally stopped, but they eventually did. In retrospect, I remember them as having been rooted more in frustration than anything else, which would make sense, given that I was a budding control freak. No control? I freak.
Anyway, fast forward to now. I have been cursed by the old saying--may you have children just like you. I would appear that I have a child just like me. Lil' Bit had certainly showed tendencies of screaming fits when she was younger. However, in these past few weeks, as she has fought valiantly not to fall asleep, it has become clear that I am going to have to steel myself for some battles of will. Recently, she has been refusing to take afternoon naps, which results in her falling asleep too early at home, resulting in long nights. The other problem is that she comes home tired and begins screeching at the top of her lungs--the telltale sign of having passed the point when she will quietly lie down and fall asleep, so that getting her to bed will be tiring for everyone.
This evening, the screeching appeared as soon as she came home from daycare. I got her fed and into pajamas and attempted to set her down. She was having none of it. I let her scream for about 10 minutes and then came to check on her. She had stuck her arm between two slats and then turned away, torquing it. She could have easily removed it herself, but she was so worked up it that the twisted arm just further fueled her screaming. I settled her back in and left. After 10 more minutes of screaming, I decided I would try and rock her to sleep. I picked her up, held her, rubbed her back, sang to her, and did all the things I used to do before she learned to fall asleep on her own. Her eyes finally closed and her breathing got settled and slow. I set her into the crib and was about to walk out when her sleep sheep stopped making the rain noises. The sudden lack of sound caused her to wake up. She looked up at me and grinned as though waking up from a full night's sleep. Crud! (Not the word I used, but as I said it only internally, I'm safe). I took her into my room and showed her the storm and rain outside the window. I let her roll around on the bed while I folded laundry and then played with her a little while. About 10 minutes later, the screeching began again, as did the eye rubbing. I gave her three more minutes of mommy-snuggle time and hauled her back to her room, set her in the crib, did the "goodnight" routine again, and left. Again with the screaming. Only this time, she started doing the "I'm in pain" scream. I peered around the corner to make sure she was okay, but stayed out of her visual range so as not to encourage the screaming in case it was the rouse it turned out to be. She seemed fine, so I let her scream more. This time, fortunately, I didn't have to wait the whole 10 minutes. The tireds caught up with her and the screaming helped further wear her down. She is now, finally, asleep. Don't know for how long. Maybe we'll get nap length and maybe we'll get bedtime. Either way, what is now clear is that my daughter can give me a run for my money and will scream as long as she is capable of making noise. Worse, the screaming only gets her more worked up, making her scream more. There is no bringing her back. I have to wait her out. Just like my mom had to wait me out. My uppance, as they say, has finally come.
On the plus side, I am glad I recognize it for what it is. It makes it much easier to both understand and handle. Still, it wears me out.
In closing, I'd just like to take this opportunity to apologize to my mom for being such a pain. And Lil' Bit--if we manage to survive each other and you become a mom someday, may the curse be broken--may you be blessed with a child who is not nearly as stubborn as we are. I'm not sure the world can take it. Nevertheless, I love you, doodlebug--screams and all.