I was having a Particularly Challenging Time with Dylan the other day and when we finally got him in bed for the night (lashed securely to his crib with canvas restraints as usual, the toddler-sized Hannibal Lecter muzzle fastened over his snapping, flesh-seeking jaws) I moaned to JB about how Riley hadn’t been this hard, had he? I mean, I definitely remember some difficulty around the 18-month stage, but my god, this is like raising a badger. A furious, unstable badger with nearly every symptom of a viral neuroinvasive disease: slobbering, abnormal temper, and acute cerebral dysfunction (what else can explain his hand-clapping joy at seeing the vacuum emerge from the closet, followed immediately by a bloodcurdling scream of pure terror after spotting the—DEAR GOD NO!—hose attachment? The delirious, lustful trance in which he devours fistfuls of macaroni and cheese one day, the howls of outrage upon having it offered to him the next? His propensity for flinging himself backwards to show his displeasure at accidentally bonking the front of his head on the table, only to roundly—and seemingly purposefully—smack the back of his head on the hardwood floor?).

Dylan’s temperament has not only led me to theorize about his future career opportunities (PETA activist, axe murderer, Blackberry-throwing supermodel), because surely this is all indicative of the difficult adult he will grow to be, but also in my darker moments wonder if in fact there’s something . . . you know, wrong. (“No, doctor, I can’t specifically recall him being exposed to the saliva of an aggressive bat, but perhaps it happened at daycare?”)

It just doesn’t seem like we went through all these exact brain-melting toddler idiosyncrasies with Riley. Diaper changes didn’t fill him with rage—why, he loved the changing table! He was picky, but he certainly didn’t smack spoonfuls of food across the room. He never ran crazily around the room weeping and rending his garments when one of his parents dared to pry the television remote from his fierce little grippy paws, for god’s sake.

I’d remember that stuff with perfect, pained clarity, wouldn’t I?

Well, according to this blog post, written by me when Riley was all of 14 months old, the answer is no.

Blind tantrumy staggering from one area to the next, accompanied by unending shrieks of fury? Check.

Food-smacking, diaper-protesting, toy-throwing umbrage? Check, check, check.

White-hot parental hatred triggered by removal of television remote? Fucking CHECK, and what IT is about the remote ANYWAY, we have EIGHT THOUSAND TOYS THAT FEATURE BUTTONS including OLD REMOTES and the only thing the kid wants is the one object that can permanently reprogram our TiVo to record nothing but DR. FUCKING PHIL.

I happened to re-read that entry only because of a recent incoming link and I was so stupidly relieved to hear my own words describing the multitudes of frustrations I was experiencing back then, I can’t even tell you. I immediately emailed it to JB, who wrote back, Buddha-like, “We forget the young Riley was once a great a-hole.”

I don’t know what this tells me. Maybe that it’s easier to remember the good moments, and cram the collections of bad ones into one generalized mental bucket (“That there year-and-a-half stage is a bit challenging, ayup”). Maybe that my memory is inherently faulty and that’s why I couldn’t tell you the difference between a numerator and a denominator if you paid me. Maybe that the children are slowly but surely liquidating and siphoning away entire cross-slices of my brain, one day at a time.

Whatever the reason, I’m just glad to know that if we are in fact raising a badger, at least we’ve done it before. Even though we clearly didn’t learn anything the first time around.

Comments

59 Responses to “Roadbumps, revisited”

  1. Sunshyn on June 23rd, 2009 3:57 pm

    So, Sarah said, “LEAVING HIM AT THE NEAREST FIRE STATION. Wait, is that not allowed when they’re already almost two? Well maybe they’ll take me, then. I could deal with being surrounded by firemen for awhile. Particularly if they didn’t smack me repeatedly on the arm and scream while I tried to wipe particles of feces from their scrotum.”

    And I got a visual. Sorry, had to go there.

    Seriously, my first baby boy was an ANGEL. Grandparents and aunties FOUGHT over who got to babysit. Second boy? Screamed non-stop. No one could calm him. Into everything. I couldn’t PAY a babysitter.

    It all evened out when they became the Teenagers From Hell, though. Then they took turns playing Good Kid, Bad Kid. Currently, the youngest is Good Kid. At age 30.

  2. Maria on June 23rd, 2009 6:38 pm

    My second is being so insanely EASY that I’m scared of what might crop up.

  3. amanda on June 24th, 2009 5:51 am

    I think our brains block out these, um, CHARMING PHASES so we are able to convince ourselves it’s a good idea to have more kids. Thank God for blogs, right? I used to think it was crazy that my friends couldn’t remember each and every developmental step of their children – and now that I have a child I need to look back at photos and blog posts to remind myself what was happening six months ago.

  4. Michelle on June 24th, 2009 6:08 am

    I’m experiencing all of this with my 11-month-old daughter including angry badger like symptoms. What is it with the damn remote and the throwing oneself backwards? Seriously! Thank you for putting into words (very funny ones) exactly what I’m dealing with.

  5. Ellen on June 24th, 2009 9:36 am

    Thanks for describing the last couple of weeks with my 17-month-old daughter. Terrible as it is, there is comfort in knowing that I’m not raising the only raving lunatic baby out there! I will be walking around today muttering, “That there year-and-a-half stage is a bit challenging, ayup”.

  6. Cookie on June 24th, 2009 9:41 am

    So, I am sorry to say that the Blue Ribbon Berry Pie Ice Cream no longer exists. It was part of a *premium* ice cream line Dreyer’s/Edy’s tried out. However, they currently have a Summer Peach Pie flavor that include chunks of pie crust.

    http://www.dreyers.com/brand/funflavors/flavor.asp?b=1420&f=2855

    You can even search for stores that carry the flavor based on your zip code.

  7. Alison on June 24th, 2009 9:48 am

    It’s always good to be reminded that you are not the only one out there raising a tiny little narcissistic psychopath. A mean and nasty tiny little narcissistic psychopath. And yet, with the unerring ability to know when it is time to stop with the horror and throw in a bear hug and a lip-smacking kiss. The better to avoid being posted on eBay once and for all…

  8. harmzie on June 24th, 2009 10:30 am

    I always assumed when they said “parental amnesia lets us have more” they were talking about the pregnancy & labour. I now realize they were talking about the random rage fits and suspension of reality they do (“you SO did NOT restrict me from Skittles for supper last night. Here, let me scream to the neighbours how you don’t feed me”)

  9. Myg on June 24th, 2009 11:28 am

    I think posts like these should come with some kind of spoiler alert or something for those of us who just gave birth to two boys. With any luck, I will have forgotten this post and its contents by the time my boys are entering the great a-hole stage.

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