The past couple of days have been an exercise in patience in our household. Since Sunday, Munch has been quite moody, flying off the handle at the smallest perceived slight, having full-on, blown-out, seemingly-never-ending tantrums when his tiniest desire is thwarted.
We ask ourselves--is he in pain? He's been drooling a lot, so could he be teething? But he falls asleep fine and stays asleep at night. No fever. I keep waiting for each day to dawn and the moodiness to have dissipated. But, each morning he wakes and is smiley for a bit, then turns his mind to something--getting his stroller, having milk IMMEDIATELY, wanting kitty to be up on the bed--and if I tell him "Not right yet," he loses it.
Of course the dread "Terrible Twos" are etched onto parents' consciousness. As you hold your slumbering newborn or watch your bubbly infant roll over for the first time or help your 1-year-old take a tentative step, the thought lingers in the back of your mind: Every milestone moves you closer to the day when your child has a will and an opinion and a ready screech to let you know just how displeased he is.
I've enjoyed Munch gaining his voice. He's the sweetest thing most days, most moments, pointing out things that I never dreamed he knew (calling a giraffe figurine "long neck" ribbiting like a frog) and learning new words every day ("gross" is my current favorite, and it's usually in the context of "kitty butt gross").
So as we wonder what is "wrong" with Munch, I fear that I know: It's the age and stage.
Before he started really talking he went through a fussy period, and we think it's likely because he knew what he wanted to say, he just couldn't. He seemed much more content when he could get his point across.
I think now he knows what he wants and he can tell us and he's just pissed to all hell when he can't do what he wants at the moment he wants to.
The tantrums he's thrown the past couple days have been epic. Screaming, kicking, red-faced. And he will not be diverted. I feel what can only be described as desperation when he's in the throes: Desperate for my bubbly guy, my happy guy, the Munch who fiddles with my hair and does his best to whistle.
And yet, I'm loathe to describe his age or him or even his behavior as "terrible." I just don't like the idea of labeling anything regarding someone I love this deeply "terrible."
Look, we're all assholes sometimes. We go through things that make us feel like crap and act shitty to those around us. We act like children when we really should man up and act reasonably. We treat our loved ones like crap sometimes. And maybe we do deserve to be labeled "terrible" in our worst moments.
But we also deserve to be loved unconditionally by those closest to us. And labels, words, especially negative ones, come to define us if we let them. "I'm terrible" is not something I ever want Munch to internalize. "I'm acting like a jerk," maybe wouldn't be so bad.
Luckily, the newest phrase Munch has learned is "I'm sorry." He says it completely out of context right now, but at least he says it. And maybe one day soon, he'll recover from a tantrum and say it and actually mean it.
So, for my part, I prefer to think of Munch as "working through something." Growing up is hard, yo, as hard or harder than actually being grown up. So if I need to put Munch in the crib for 2 minutes while he screams, or go to the kitchen as he lies on the living room rug ranting and raving, then so be it. I'll be there to hug him when he's done. And we'll work through this thing together.