Saturday, May 21, 2016

TMS



Toddler menstrual symptom. The prolonged tantrum. Is it possible that toddlers experience this drop in sanity that we women know as PMS? As many of my friends and family have attested, I get downright nasty. I have a sort of PMS disgust face that usually lasts a few days. It is accompanied by extreme anxiety (meltdown), imposed sadness (must watch: The Notebook), and hyper sensitive taste to all things sweet and salty (fries dipped in Frosty). Every month, I am reminded that Layla has now developed her own version. It usually starts with persistently asking about ice cream and extra eye rolls. Lately, I noticed that Jackson's inner teenage girl has come out in full force. His tantrums have become more intense and involved. He becomes possessed with anger and rage over the strangest things. 

It started when I changed his diaper- he was wet and gross, but didn’t want to sit still. pinched his butt which made him stop screaming and flailing and manage a slight smile. Then he got all weepy. "Bottle. Bottle” He whimpered. "Milk? Milk?” I asked. We are trying to wean him off the bottle completely and have caved on one in the evening. I wasn't ready for this fight. It is like being extra menstrual and allowing myself ice cream because i am "dieting". I was hoping chocolate milk would be an acceptable compromise. (like frozen yogurt). "Chocolate milk ?" I asked, taking the yellow Nestle container out of the pantry. He looked up from his mellow dramatic tantrum and came running toward me. I set the mix on the stove and grabbed one of his cups. As I spooned the mix into the cup, he looked disgustedly at the cup and pointed to the mix. "Yes. Chocolate milk" I say, trying to break the language barrier between mom and toddler. "We need milk," I pour milk into his cup, put on the lid and shake it. He is still pointing at the yellow container. I hand him the cup and he yells "NO!". What? It's chocolate. He is screaming and pointing at the yellow container. His hand is thrusting so rapidly toward the container that I wander if he is trying to activate some sort of arm extension release. (Go go gadget arm!) Mainly, for educationally reasons, I hand him the container. The crying comes to an immediate halt. He runs it into the living room and sets it on the coffee table, takes off the lid and sticks his hand right in running chocolate powder through his fingers. Gross! I snatch the container back away and the screaming returns - with a vengeance. We play a power tug of war for a few more rounds before i get another educational musing. "Help mommy.” I offer. "Let's make chocolate milk." I have the container and his cup and he seems to be intrigued as I grab a spoon and set it down. I hand him the spoon and point to his cup. He scoops some powder into the cup and smiles at me. He gets it. Progress. He scoops another little bit. Remember from chapter 1 of this saga- that cup was previously rejected, and already full of chocolate milk. We add a little more mix to the  chocolate milk. He smiles. Then spoons in more mix. Mix. smile. Mix. smile. As he scooped in round four I said "OK-that's enough". We took his cup and put a bit more milk. He looked it and our gaze met as I was putting the lid back on the container. A flash of betrayal hit him as he started at the tin and exploded in tears. “No!"He said. He growled (actually, not figuratively) at the cup of milk and threw himself down. Time to abandon this failed experiment. I picked him up and put him on the couch. Sit! I command. He doesn't physically try to fight but his verbal aggression is in over drive. He is laying on the ground screaming, and kicking his legs in an almost animated tantrum. I stare him down with my best "don't fuck with mom" look. He is still crying but it is toning down. He climbs off the couch and just as I am about to scold him, he crawls into my lap and nestles his head between my shoulder and ear. The opposite hand slides to the back of my neck and his fingers are tapping my hair. I hug him back an sneak kisses to his cheek and the top of his head. His eyes close and he drifts off into a ten minute snuggle nap. When he wakes up, he smiles at me. "Hi mom" he says as he crawls off my lap, grabs the chocolate milk cup and drinks half of it in one gulp.

There are days when I watch him launch himself onto the floor in a fit of tears and screaming and wonder if he is going to explode with rage. He goes through “tossing process” where he grabs anything nearby and tosses it into the abyss that exists between our chair and side table. This collection of items that make him angry, from a car that won’t fit inside a bus to a non working remote, represent his daily struggles to cope with the hardships toddler life can bring. He hasn’t quite accepted that things won’t go his way and has trouble distinguishing between what is worth crying about (mom won’t give me a bottle) and what is impossible (dogs can’t brush their own teeth). Some days the struggle is just too much for him to handle and he spontaneously combusted into tantrum and rage, TMS. I am ready for him to be off his “cycle” and get back to normal toddlering.