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.

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Shannon
Shannon
12 years ago

Linda, you are the best. I was just laughing out loud at that post, as usual…

I think Mother Nature or who ever/whatever programs us to remember the good and forget the bad, because OMFG, would we ever do it again if we REALLY remembered how bad it can be? (another example: Labor! So many moms right after labor “I am NEVER going through that again…” A year later seeing a snuggly little cocoon-like baby …”Hmmm, It wasn’t THAT bad…)

Maria
12 years ago

I think it’s everything to do with the mind protecting us and making us forget…so we’ll have more vivid memories of all the wonderful times and think gee, this wasn’t so bad, right? Let’s have another. It is preservation of the species at its finest.

Maria
12 years ago

OMG Shannon…you and I have known each other way too long.

Someone Being Me
12 years ago

This gives me hope. Hope that there is an end to the tantrums and food throwing. Mine loves the remote but my cell phone is his true treasured item. He is now 29 months old and we have been dealing with this since at least 18 months. I am afraid it will never end. With a newborn at home too I fear for my future sanity. It is good to know that not only did Riley get past this phase but you also seem to have forgotten about it or at least blocked it from your memory. Do you happen to recall when it started getting easier?

Amy M.
Amy M.
12 years ago

Great post & so true. Whenever my kids visit, my mom invariably says something like “You never did that when you were 3”. Uh-huh. Bet I did. We do forget a ton. I can barely remember what it was like 1 year ago before my daughter was born, much less 2, when my son was her age now.

samantha jo campen
12 years ago

Oh sweet Jesus thank you. This weekend Theo has taken up screaming in our faces. And in the car. OH DEAR GOD THE CAR. We don’t know what to DOOOOO. We want him to stop of course but if we give him toy after toy after toy that’s just reinforcing the screaming is it not?

Badgers = toddlers I guess. Though no one TOLD ME THAT prior to having the child.

I’d love to see Theo and Dylan play together because boy howdy that would be a head smackin’ good time. You bring the Xanax, I’ll bring the ear plugs.

Sarah
12 years ago

I was just complaining to my husband today that if Eli (twenty one months) got even just SLIGHTLY more badly behaved than he has been today, I am seriously 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.

Jackie
12 years ago

My 13 month old has been like this for at least two months. This gives me hope that if it won’t get better then at least it can become a bit foggy. Maria is right, if we remembered then we wouldn’t put ourselves through it again.

kalisa
12 years ago

You know, I think it’s just like before we ever had kids and our moms told us that sure, childbirth was horrific, but YOU DON’T REMEMBER THE BAD PARTS. And we thought, “Oh suuurrre. Like I’d ever forget THAT.” But I think it’s true.

Also? I think the numerator is on top & the denominator is on the bottom.

Lauren
Lauren
12 years ago

“Grippy little paws.” Heh. I’m always amazed at how TIGHTLY Jacob can hold onto something he really really wants. He hasn’t really thrown a 5 alarm tantrum yet, but I know it’s coming.

jen
jen
12 years ago

I think for me, part of it is that with the first kid I was all new and earnest at my job and now with the third kid I’m officially Too Old For This Shit.

jonniker
12 years ago

Would you believe I’ve already mostly forgotten the agony of The Screaming? Adam reminded me this evening that we used to gird our loins for upwards of eight hours of full-bore screaming, when finally — FINALLY — he would bring it to a close, get her to sleep while I was waiting in bed, dressed for the Arctic winters that were, apparently, our bedroom evenings, and hold my arms out so she could fall asleep on my chest for the entire evening. I could not get up to pee. I could not roll over. I was trapped under another person.

There were two weeks where I had to let her NAP on top of me, too. I contemplated buyig Depends, because I literally didn’t know what else to do. And if it weren’t for another witness to this on both sides, I swear, we would have forgotten. I swear.

I mean, here I am complaining about her sleep situation NOW? Am I NUTS?

Cookie
12 years ago

My husband and I keep going, well Gabe (3.5) wasn’t this bad at Nick’s age (15 mo). And I’m sure that he was. I don’t remember it clearly, and yet I remember it being so hard. I remember thinking it will never end and he will end up an only child because, why, why would I go through this again?

You always manage to make me laugh, partly because you are such a fantastic writer and partly because I can totally relate and can appreciate the pain another parent is going through.

The remote, especially the TiVo remote is the ultimate prize, followed by our cell phones and then car keys. Toy versions do not have the same kind of appeal.

babelbabe
12 years ago

I once took my 16 month old child (the third, too, I should have known better!) to the pediatrician because of “unexplainable behavior.” You know, screaming, head banging, instant rage followed by hysteria and sobs that went on for half an hour or more…the doctor kindly, for almost 20 minutes, watched Terzo fling himself about the examining room (he obligingly threw a fit over someone looking at him or something equally horrific) and then calmly told me that Terzo was having a temper tantrum. I wonder what he wrote on the little doctor sheet (other than “Mother is neurotic pain in the ass.”)

Katherine
12 years ago

I’m really hoping that this happens to me…that I will not be able to remember the furniture destroying, store-cart-tipping, restaurant wall licking child and will only remember the wonderful hug giving, silly laughing, story telling one.

Oh, that I would be that lucky.

Aunt Linda
Aunt Linda
12 years ago

Do you remember the tremendous interest Charlie showed in Riley as a baby? Dachshunds are badger hounds, you know. So you might be on to something here.

mrs chicken
12 years ago

My son is 10.5 months old and he exhibits all of these behaviors.

So, according to this post, in 4 months he will be like a badger with ‘roid rage.

Um, yay?

Lesley
Lesley
12 years ago

But these badgers and love weasels ‘r sooooooooo cute!

Amanda
Amanda
12 years ago

I know that my now eight year old was the mother of all pain in the ass toddlers and that I frequently thought I’d never make it through another day but now, years later, I can’t remember the specifics and surely it wasn’t THAT bad was it? Moral is that we are graced with the ability to forget the horrors. That’s the only reason additional children are ever born.

Jill
12 years ago

Numerator’s on top, denominator’s on the bottom, but before I read them here, I wouldn’t have to been able to tell you those were the proper terms.

Also, I believe we, as parents, gain super powers upon the birth of our first child that renders us unable to remember certain facts about pregnancy, childbirth and early childhood. If we didn’t have this power we would never EVER have another child EVER!

Becky
Becky
12 years ago

Amen!

jonniker
12 years ago

Babel: I LOVE IT. That’s the best thing ever, and beats the pants off of my temptation to call the pediatrician yesterday because my normally fussy baby was … fussy. How nice for everyone. See also: teething. Gawd.

warcrygirl
12 years ago

Ah, the memory;, it is selective. Great, now you have me thinking about this:

http://www.badgerbadgerbadger.com/

Kate
12 years ago

Absolutely. Preservation of the species. I think the beginning of parenthood automatically triggers some kind of selective memory. Thank GOD.

She Likes Purple
12 years ago

I turned to my doctor during labor and said, “People must forget about this because if they didn’t THERE WOULD BE A WORLD FULL OF ONLY CHILDREN.” And, you know, I remember saying those exact words but not the pain that caused me to say them. I remember saying the words but I STILL KIND OF WANT ANOTHER OMG. It’s the stupid, effing amnesia that runs rampant in humans. It’s a tricky little mother fucker.

Michelle
12 years ago

Oh, I’m so with you on the feral badger raising. My 17 month old screams as if his toenails are being slowly removed with a crab fork when my husband tries to change his diaper yet he’ll happily let me do it. He is INCAPABLE of using a fork yet he will yell like a pissed off John McEnroe if you don’t let him try. He swings from sweet, adorable little lump of love to CRAZED PSYCHO KILLER IN TRAINING in seconds.

And if we had remembered this from the first time around these little cutie pies would not exist. Nature’s amnesia!

Jess
Jess
12 years ago

Ahhhh THANK YOU!!!
I thought I was raising a FEMALE Badger. Jeeeezus the tantrums on a 20 month old! Im sorry its happening to you but I am very happy to know I am not alone. Misery loves……

Thanks for being so damn funny!

Jillian
12 years ago

This womb is closed. I remember the pain. There are plenty of women that will be my baby mama for me. ;) Screw that crap.

Donna
Donna
12 years ago

When my daughter was 4, she had an ear infection, and was on amoxicillin, the cherry flavor. I gave her one dose of it, and she lost her shit and flipped out completely. Running through the house, banging into walls, screaming and crying hysterically, CURSING!, and just about beat the shit out of me when I tried to grab her and hold her to stop her from crashing into stuff.
Called the doctors office, they tell me she’s having a reaction to the medicine, (they said the red dye in it, wtf?), and not to give her any more. It helped that she was still freaking the fuck out when I called and they could hear her. I literally was afraid she was going to hurt herself.
Benadryl, at 1 and 1/2 the usual dose, she woke up and was fine…..freakiest shit I ever saw a kid do.
Not that Dylan is doing that, but something to be aware of…

Emma
Emma
12 years ago

I honestly believe that’s why kids are so cute…otherwise they wouldn’t make it to their next birthdays alive…

Violet
Violet
12 years ago

How is it that they know which remote is working? My 12 month old even has EXACTLY the same tivo remote, but he just knows somehow that it isn’t the RIGHT one to make us completely insane when he gets a hold of it. How? Why?

And I feel you, Amy M. – my mom comes to visit, and says “wow, you and your brother were never like that, I’ve never seen that kind of crazy behavior.”. Of course,this from the same woman who said childbirth was no big deal, and she felt fine after, and her pregnancies were easy and almost fun, and she couldn’t understand why I was complaining so much. So – delirium, insanity, or senility there.

Erin
Erin
12 years ago

@Donna: That red dye is really bad stuff! They started making tylenol etc *without* dye because they FINALLY realized that it was making kids go ape-sh*t.

My son is 40% wild badger (oh, the slapping! the screaming! the boneless passive resistance! kicking while changing!), 60% cupecake of love and joy. He’s only 13 mo though so I have months and months to watch that ratio tip the other way. Glad to know I’m not alone!

Korinna
12 years ago

Why?! WHY?! Do they have so much RAGE? Where does it come from?

It’s not they’re a wronged divorcee or the survivor of some atrocity.

Rather, simply a recipient of a diaper change.

Red
Red
12 years ago

My mother in law always says that my husband was the easy one and if she had had the second one first, he would have been an only. I am starting to think she really did blank out how difficult the first one could be cause DAMN I know he didn’t get this shrieking and food texture aversion from me. I’ll own up to foot stomping and crying, but I’m with all y’all: I think Mother Nature gives us selective amnesia for a reason.

birdgal
birdgal
12 years ago

I SNORTED, woman! I snorted AT WORK! Stop being so dang funny! You hit the nail on the head though; I thought I would surely remember certain things about raising my 3 year old girl, things that would help me with young one (almost nine months now, sniff), but I can’t remember ANYthing and I don’t have blog to help me! I can only hope that my son, when he reaches the year and half stage, is not 100% badger :).

nonsoccermom
12 years ago

Did you ever nail this one. I am constantly saying things like “I KNOW our oldest didn’t do this/act like a crazed lunatic/shriek if you look at him wrong/try to hit me in the face with a huge board book and laugh about it” and my husband is all YES, HE DID, YOU HAVE JUST BLOCKED IT FROM YOUR MEMORY. And he’s right. The mother’s mind is funny like that.

SART
12 years ago

Umm… yeah. This post has officially scared the shit out of me as I sit here a mere 18 days from my due date with babe #2.

PLEASE tell me it doesn’t get worse. PLEASE tell me this baby will be an easygoing joy that is the complete opposite of the 4 year old I’ve been threatening to sell nearly daily since he turned 18 months old… Please?

Andrea
12 years ago

You know, I thought my daughter would be the payoff for having gone through the toddlerdom with my son. She was so much an easier baby than he was. But no. Turns out big brother is teaching little sister all his tricks, and she’s learning new ones he never dreamed of in his wildest toddler id and fucking ego dreams.

I fear the teenage years.

Anyabeth
12 years ago

Oh lord, my daughter is Dylan’s age and is a wee bit shall we say challenging. Then a friend said that “oh 17 months was the worst month of my life” and I went home and cried. Because it gets worse? And I am taking her on a cross-country flight? With my mother?

There is nothing like watching your toddler beat the living crap out of her baby dolls to make you wonder if . . .maybe Jeffery Domer’s mom watched this very thing and is there something I should be DOING about this?

aimee
12 years ago

This is hysterical. I think we have to forget all that awful stuff or the entire world would be filled with only children!

Courtney
12 years ago

This is why I started blogging, so that I can look back at my pre-baby life in a couple of years and wonder WHAT THE FUCK I WAS THINKING!

Right now I know I couldn’t even raise a puppy. Good luck with the badger! He is a rather cute one….

Alyson
12 years ago

It’s called “Mommy Amnesia.”

It’s the same disease that allows me to remember a childbirth where I dialated from 6 to 10 in 20 minutes, didn’t get any pain meds and gave birth to a moose and can still laugh and think it’s funny!!!

pam
pam
12 years ago

Linda, with three boys the same age as Dylan, I can promise *nothing* is wrong with him. I mean to say, I coulda told you that before you found that old post.

Shawna
Shawna
12 years ago

I don’t get this whole “forgetting the pain of labour” thing. I remember with perfect clarity how I thought my spine would snap in two for 45 seconds, every two minutes, for 12 hours. I have a second child because, well, it didn’t kill me, I recovered, and it was only a day out of my life.

Kim
Kim
12 years ago

With a four-year old and two-year old I find myself constantly asking the same thing. Was the first one ever this ridiculous? The answer is usually “yes”. (But then I forget that I asked that question too and the cycle repeats.) :)

Nicole
12 years ago

“PETA activist” – HA!!! We are currently careening at breakneck speed toward the rabid badger stage and I am now officially terrified beyond all reason. Alas, is there nothing to be done to lessen the destruction?

MelV
MelV
12 years ago

Oh lord!! This made me laugh way out loud in my office. Im pretty sure my coworkers know my job aint that funny. And girlfriend have I been there! I vividly remember talking to my husband about taking the boy to see a professional for fear that he was possibly manic or perhaps bi-polar with the arc his moods could swing. It was unreal. Rabid badgers indeed.

Heather, Queen of Shake Shake

It’s a good thing you have the old blog posts to look back on and see that it’s typical behavior. In this day and age, it seems we can’t admit to normal toddler-badger behavior without someone suggesting it’s one developmental disorder or another.

Danielle
Danielle
12 years ago

I also think it was a little easier only having one to deal with. Now when the 2nd is having a meltdown, the older one chimes in, or “tries” to help, and just makes the situation more difficult.
Ah toddlerhood, they are such a pain in the ass all while being so darn cute!