No child is perfect. Having them is like, as Jerry Seinfeld puts it, turning a blender on without the lid. The literal mess is nothing compared to the emotional chaos one goes through raising a child.
I’m lucky. I will say that again, because 1) it’s true and 2) I need to. I’m LUCKY.
My son is great. He was born this cuddly bundle of joy without many problems. We didn’t have success at breastfeeding, so it was formula for him. He got sick in daycare. A LOT. And, because of this, he had to have tubes in his ears to remedy the blockage that was harming his hearing and ability to develop speech.
But, in return for this, we got a bright, loving, intelligent, funny little guy who has enriched our lives on so many levels. While other parents deal with heavier stuff, we got out easy on most things. Except this one thing he’s started doing in the last few months.
If you’re not familiar with the term Night Tantrums, consider yourself lucky. Some kids have Night Terrors, waking nightmares that scare the crap out of you and kiddo. This…is not that. Our happy-go-lucky kid wakes in the darkness and pitches a full on tantrum. The difference is that Night Terrors are a waking dream, tantrums are conscious. He knows what he’s doing and saying. Sometimes several times a night, we’re awakened to screaming and crying, fully awake and aware, just pure toddler assholery.
According to the internet, this is normal development for kids our son’s age. And, according to the same research, this too shall pass. We’re to deal with them the same way we’d deal with tantrums in the daytime, which is not to engage right away, redirect to bed, and cope as best we can. But it’s tough when he’s kicking and throwing his bedding, demanding a ride in mommy’s car to get pizza at 3:00 a.m. Believe me kid, when I was in college, I’d have been all over that.
The irony is that he wakes up as though there’s been no conflict at all, happy as can be. It’s hard not to take it personally and be less than cheerful in his abject denial of this crappy behavior. I’ve never had my patience tested like this before, and the advice on the web has been helpful. I have to remember, in the brunt of his worst behavior, that he’s 3 and I’m not. I fall back on my customer service training, keeping my calm as best I can, and holding my own desire to snap right back at him, knowing it won’t improve things. But, dang, it’s really tough.
I swear the CIA must be taking interrogation notes on this kind of stuff, because if I were locked in a cell, only to be awoken at the worst hour of the night by screaming children demanding things I’m not able to provide, I’d definitely crack under that kind of pressure. I’d love nothing more than to sleep in (ya know, to like 6:00 or so). But it’s looking very unlikely, at least until he’s a teenager.