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Toddler Colic

Heaven help us. I think Simon has toddler colic, and it’s not a bit more fun than the newborn variety was.

The issue at hand is that Simon is displaying increasing fits of temper, and the kid is just ear-splittingly loud. I realized a few months after I moved to Louisville from San Francisco that, while I adored SF, I suffered from the regular onslaught of city noise. It turns out that I’m pretty sensitive to loudness, and the constant drone of sirens, traffic, car alarms, etc. put me on edge.

I enjoyed a year or so of peace, and then Simon arrived, hit the two-week mark, and started wailing. We joked that the baby had an amazing set of lungs, and Matt swears that Simon’s colic gave him tinnitus. I’m not sure how I survived the volume back then. I think the answer is twofold: (1) I knew it would be short-lived; and (2) I’ve forgotten how stressed out I really was.

Well, hello reminder! Now two, Simon is beginning to exert his independence more often. Sometimes these displays involve messes like tumped over glasses of milk or messy baths, and other times they involve passive resistance like sitting down in a parking lot, but more often they involve screaming. And much like Nigel Tufnel’s Marshall amp in This Is Spinal Tap, Simon goes to 11.

I am honestly finding his loudness to be a deterrent to good parenting. During Sunday night’s (hour +) tantrum, I wanted to check in on him and offer to help calm him down, but my nerves were so shot I couldn’t stand to be in the same room as him. Frankly, at the thirty minute mark I lost all sympathy for him and, had the weather been better, would have escaped to my deck.  

Part of the problem now stems from Simon’s TV addiction. We got in the habit of watching Curious George in the morning right about when school began. Then, between illness, cold weather, shorter days, and a general increase in habit, we found ourselves watching Curious George, Thomas and Friends, or Sesame Street quite often. Too often.

Tuesday night, when I put dinner in front of Simon, he had other plans. He got up from the table, walked to the living room, and asked for “tee” (that’s TV), Matt and I drew a line in the sand. No TV. Not before dinner. Not during dinner. And on that night, at least, probably not after dinner either. Simon made us pay dearly for that choice; he screamed and cried at the top of his lungs for nearly an hour.

Again, self preservation got in the way of better parenting. I didn’t offer to console him very often, I only tried to distract him a couple of times, and I was mad at him even though the fit is/was largely my fault. It’s like being angry at a crack baby in withdrawal, I know, but I couldn’t help it. It’s not just that the screaming gets on my nerves, it’s that it takes less of it to do so each time; there’s a cumulative effect going on. I’m reaching the point where any time he begins to cry my back stiffens and my thoughts turn to “Oh, please, not this again” crossed with “What am I going to do with this little monster?”

I’m not going to lay a hand on him and I’m trying very hard not to yell at him (I’ve slipped up once or twice in the yelling department and felt tremendous guilt afterwards), so until I develop a better strategy, that leaves withdrawal. You won’t find this in any of the baby manuals, though, so I’m working on some coping strategies. Matt has a stash of ear plugs to use, and I’m hoping that getting more regular exercise will also provide a toddler-friendly way to blow off steam. I’ve gotten his attention by whispering once or twice, too.

Lest this sound like it’s all drama all the time, let me also state for the record that these fits regularly occur between Simon’s waking from his afternoon nap and about 6:30 p.m. It’s the old colic “happy hour”, just moved up an hour or so. And Simon’s consistently sweetest, funniest, most loving time of the day is between this difficult time and bed-time. This means that, thankfully, by bedtime I’m totally charmed by Simon and even the worst days end well.

Then there are days like Wednesday and Thursday, when Simon has been such a sweet-heart and in such a good mood all day that I (almost) feel bad for ever getting angry at him.

2 Responses to “Toddler Colic”

  1. christine says:

    Oh man, I’ve been letting Alise watch tv too so that I can have my cup of joe in peace and get a little computer time in. She’s obsessed with our Wallace & Gromit DVD; she can watch it over and over. The tantrums have started in our household too. I admit I’m a bit worried, as we’ve been using the tv to buy time more often (to cook or bake). Alise’s voice isn’t nearly as loud as Simon’s, but she’s gotten increasingly louder as a toddler and it’s the reason why we have fallen off the sleep training boat, with our early-to-bed neighbors upstairs. This toddler stuff has thrown us for a loop!

  2. bethnbobinnc says:

    You’re doing the right thing, Jessica. Once he realizes the noise won’t make you cave in he’ll get bored with it. I have frequently stepped over Evan in the midst of a tantrum. He would get up and move to where I was to continue the fit and when I ignored him, he’d get bored and eventually stop. Hang in there. This too shall pass……..

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