The Bean keeps fluctuating from 'loving on everyone' to 'everyone but Mama can set themselves on fire and play in traffic for all I care.' As one can imagine, this is wildly upsetting to her father who wants nothing more than to love on his baby without her scratching out his eyes while shrieking like a rabid Velociraptor.
After a few discussions with some of my mommy friends, I discovered this a common phase that doesn't go away until EIGHTEEN MONTHS (give or take a day). And causes more than few spats on the home front because everyone wants to pull their hair out.
So I'd like to share a few words to all the Dads out there, because it seems like everyone just accepts this phase and it deserves a little prodding.
Dear Frustrated Fathers,
Just thought you would be interested to know: We're winging it too.
Despite what you think, mothers do not have a secret recipe for Happy Baby stashed away somewhere; hidden for the sole purpose of making you miserable. If I knew what series of events were guaranteed to make The Bean stop crying I would publish and distribute it to everyone I knew. I could use a night or two of sleep.
Soothing a child is a lot like playing a game of Hot/Cold. Every action will result in more or less crying ("You're getting warmer..." or "Oh My God, you are so cold it hurts!!!"). You need to keep guessing and trying different permutations until the crying stops.
That said, here's a helpful list of things to consider when faced with a child whose crap has been lost:
- Try everything...ever: Things known to quell my screaming child: a roll of paper towels, hanging her upside down by her toes, a spoon and chewing on her fingers (me chewing them). How did I discover these things? Desperate times people.
- Don't try anything for more than 1 minute: If it didn't work immediately, it is not going to work and will only increase the spew of hatred being emitted by your child. It doesn't matter if the activity you're trying worked before...if the crying did not slow within 15-30 seconds, IT WILL NOT WORK, MOVE ON.
- While you can NEVER be certain about what will stop the screams, it is usually some combination of "Hold Me Before I Burst Into Flames," "Bring Me to Where I've Imagined the Fun I Think I'm Missing Is Happening," "Give Me Something, But I Will Make You Try 50 Different Somethings Until I Find the One I Deem Acceptable," and "It's Been Three Whole Minutes Since I Last Ate, Where's The Grub?"
- Very rarely does more noise help an already screaming child. In this instance, music does not calm the savage beast. Music, a story, loud toys or self help books on tape will only serve to make your child scream louder since they think you can't hear them. (Caveat: A Wiggles video can solve almost any meltdown.)
- When all hope seems lost, turn to the Ergo, the stroller, the car...something that moves and will hopefully lull the banshee to sleep.
- Sometimes you just have to let them scream. There isn't always an answer. They will tire themselves out. They scream at us all the time too and we had to suck it up many times.
Lastly, when you throw the child at their mother in a fit of exasperation and the little bugger stops crying immediately, take heart. Right now, the child isn't doing anything on purpose or out of spite. Those special tantrums and battles are reserved for their mother when the child is older and YOU are the cool parent, YOU are the fun parent, YOU are the one they turn to when "Mom is being unreasonable and just doesn't understand anything and how come she can't be more like you?"