A few nights ago I experienced Phoenix's first tantrum and it was truly terrifying. I'd even go so far as to say it was more than a tantrum. This was pure rage!
I know I'm naive but I didn't even realise that 1 year olds could feel anger like he was expressing and it was all because he wanted to play with me on the stairs, instead of eating his dinner.
I know it was my fault. He was probably hungry because I'd left feeding him a little late. My one fear when I was having Phoenix, was that I would forget to feed him. "No", said everyone, when I expressed this fear to them, "children let you know when they are hungry". The trouble is though, Phoenix is like me. Unless he's ravenous, he's simply not bothered about food, he'd rather be doing something else. So consequentially, he rarely 'let's me know' when he's hungry, until it's way too late. Of course, I have a responsibility as his mum to make sure I know when he's hungry and feed him at regular intervals, so he's never ravenous but occasionally I fuck this up and this was one of those times.
While waiting for his food to cook I decided, against my better judgement, that he could play with me on the stairs, practising going up and down safely. We've not done this for a while, so I thought it would be a good thing to do, just in case he is ever in a situation where he finds himself on the stairs alone. I did not foresee though, that he would enjoy this educational game so much, that when I did attempt to feed him he would right, royally kick off like a mother!
While my 80 cm tall child declared utter anarchy at not being allowed to go continuously up and down the stairs, both me and his father attempted to feed him but he was having non of it.
Usually when something makes him cry you can easily make him feel better and divert his attention on to something else. I thought maybe if we let him wander around playing with something else as we fed him, rather than forcing him to sit at the table, this might help. I could not have been more wrong.
He wailed, he flung himself on the floor, he fought me. Absolutely nothing I did could console my poor raging baby! I was distraught that I had upset him so just because I needed to feed him - but his father pointed out he wasn't upset at all, he was in fact extremely angry with us.
He cried until his teeth chattered and he was coughing. I wanted to let him know that I was sorry. I didn't mean to spoil his fun. I felt I should show him that I did care that he was feeling so awful. I tried to hug him. He threw himself out of my arms. I tried to stroke his face and tell him, it's ok... He moved away from me. I tried just leaving him to it but as his little teeth chattered and he could hardly catch his breath, I couldn't just let him ride it out, it felt terrible not to be wiping his tears away and making it all better.
In the end I picked him up, whisked him in to another room and used a firm tone saying, "Right that's enough now", while hugging him close.
After what seemed like years, he finally started to calm down, although he was doing that funny, sobbing, breathing thing that I remember doing when I was beside myself as a child.
Phoenix is a little bit 'grudgy' too and he clearly kept remembering that I had pissed him off and so whimpering again at the memory of it all.
His dad suggested I bath him, as he loves playing with all his Skip Hop toys in the bath. His Zoo Light Up Surfers and Zoo Stack & Pour Buckets always calm him down and we decided he could just have crumpets in the bath as he had probably freaked out so much because he was actually really hungry or perhaps a better word would be hangry.
This thank the gods did the trick and he finally gave me his happy toothy smile and all was well with the world again.
I however, felt a bit of a wreak secretly afterwards and still do a bit now. It was the worst thing in the world to see my little baby so upset. Every little sob and teeth chatter he gave broke my heart in to a thousand pieces and my mind went on a crazy mad spin, thinking of how I could best let him know that I cared.
Of course since the tantrum, Ayden and my mum have pointed out to me that Phoenix didn't care whether I was loving him enough at that moment, he just wanted his own way and was furious with me for not giving it to him.
I don't think I'm going to be very good at this tantrum control malarkey. I think I may be the 'soft touch' parent. I just want my little boy to be happy but because I want him to be safe too I guess I will have to administer some tough love.
Recently, Ayden and I were talking about what if when he's older, he decides he would like to ride a motorbike? What will we do? Personally I would find it hard to say no. After all it's his life and if he's over say 18 surely I have to respect that but I would rather he didn't do anything too thrill seeking or dangerous really.
It was while we were discussing it that I realised I definitely married the right man as Ayden said, without any hesitation, "I would say no and if he got a motor bike I would go and smash it up and I wouldn't care how old he was either. He's never having a motorbike or doing anything remotely dangerous an that's that!"
So happy am I knowing that I don't have to be the parent that is the sensible one! Daddy can lay down the law and say no. I can play Skip Hop toys in the bath, ride on carousels and wipe his tears away. The perfect combination of parenting skills is emerging in us organically. Hooray!
I know there will be many more tests and just like feeding time I will get so many more things wrong but being a mum is a job I will sell my soul to and it's important that all parents know and admit their limitations. It's important for our children to know who we truly are and that we are not perfect, so that they can be brave about who they are and embrace all their perfect imperfections along with us. Baby Rages and all.
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