There’s a song from the musical “Avenue Q” called “The More You Ruv Someone,” that pokes fun at how insane the people we love can make us (and ethnic pronunciation, obviously, but that’s beside the point). While I suspect this is a bit of a universal truth, I think it is particularly poignant when talking about our children.
Don’t get me wrong—I love my boys to pieces, and they make every day worthwhile. But there are certain times when I would be only too glad to sell them to gypsies…or leave them in the woods (though I’ve learned from Greek myth that they would almost certainly come back and kill me at some point…and then marry their own mother, unknowingly). Most often, these feelings come at about 3:00a.m., when I am attempting to bounce and pat my 5-month-old to sleep, or when my two year old decides that he’s the boss and doesn’t have to stop doing whatever death-defying stunt he’s undertaking.
Even worse can be the thoughts that arise during the freak overnights when the baby decides he needs to start screaming every half hour, and only being held and bounced can possibly console him. On these nights, one can’t help but contemplate opening the window, disposing of the problem, and having a good night’s sleep…Okay. Not seriously contemplated, but…well, if you’re a parent with a less than angelic baby, you know what I’m talking about.
Worse is the crap you have to put up with from people who either haven’t been in your situation before, or have muddled through it so long ago that they no longer remember it with any accuracy. Clearly, because so-and-so has a lovely, quiet baby that will sleep anywhere, anytime, and wake cheerful and ready to be passed around a large gathering of baby-lusting women, you child should be precisely the same way, and you must be blowing things out of proportion. Yes. Obviously we’ve just enjoyed giving up our social lives, getting 3-5 hours of broken sleep a night, and never getting any exercise SO MUCH that we’ve chosen that over allowing our child to be the natural, sleepy angel he’s so yearning to be.
Sorry, I digress. What was I talking about again? Oh, yes: loving your children, and the associated desire for strangulation.
Last night might have actually been one of my greatest tests as a young parent. My toddler was clearly angry when we put him to bed; he had had to put away his toys, get into his pajamas and crawl into bed—and he didn’t want to. Still, we got him there, my wife read him a couple of stories, sang him a song, and left the room. While we were getting the baby ready for bed, I noticed that our toddler’s light was on (normally we unplug it) and went in to turn it off. There he was sitting on his bed, holding a ceramic piggy bank that he would have had to climb the dresser to acquire, and he is naked from the waist down; he had taken off his pajama bottoms and his diaper, and purposely peed all over his bed.
Now, the conscious, rational part of my brain understands that he does things like this as rebellion, using the only tools readily available to him. Unfortunately, blind rage trumps rationality, and the yelling began. I stripped the top layers of his bed, put down a towel, and threw on a new flat sheet, all the while keeping up a constant stream of chastisement; my son just sat on the floor and cried, angry and upset because I’d forced his diaper and pajamas back on and made him get off of his bed (so I could change it), and yet I wouldn’t allow him to leave the room.
Finally, rational thinking kicked in again and I realized that, while the chastising might be making me feel a little better (not much, though), it wasn’t getting through to him while he was busy screaming and crying. I sat down on the floor and asked him if he needed a hug—and he did. Then I patiently explained to him why what he did was not OK (pausing occasionally as new crying breaks out). I finished it off by asking if he would like a bedtime song; he did. So we turned off the light (and unplugged it, this time) and climbed back into his big-boy bed for a song. I made sure I kept a hand on his belly, and he made sure his leg was touching my arm. Then I left the room, and he drifted quietly off to sleep.
“The more you ruv someone, the more you want to kill them. The more you ruv someone, the more they make you cry.”