Monday, September 26, 2011

noah chronicles. 3

Looking back, I often wonder how I got through that next year. Most nights, I would fall into bed completely drained. If I did have any energy left, I usually spent it crying. Noah's voyage into the waters of independence was a tumultuous one, to say the least.

It seemed that e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. became a battle. I came to expect at least 3 tantrums a day. And for each tantrum to last at least an hour. And I came to know that I usually would have no idea what would provoke each new tantrum. More often than not, it would be in response to a "no". Often, the reason would be fathomless.

My motto in those days became: Not everything is worth fighting over. But, when I do pick a fight--I must win. There is no option. Ah, and this was said to Noah countless times a day: You will never get anything good from a tantrum.

And so it was that I found myself time and time again struggling to control an out-of-control child around my ever-expanding belly. Noah has always been big for his age, and that made this battle for control even more exhausting.

I can't even tell you how many of our walks to the park were turned around halfway because of a tantrum--me struggling to carry this lanky child back up the hill to our apartment, holding his arms and legs as still as possible, cars slowing to watch the spectacle. Then, huffing up the flights of stairs to the 3rd floor where we lived so I could put him in his room for a time out. Me calming myself so I could deal with the issue in as clear a mind as possible, me willing myself to really forgive Noah--even though I could be pretty sure this scenario would repeat itself in another hour or so.

When Noah would go into his tantrums, I often say it was like he would go out of his body. Threatening didn't work. Punishing didn't work. Cajoling didn't work. It seemed that every couple of months, "what would work" might be something a little different--but usually I would just have to put him in his room and let him "do his thing" until he could come out and apologize. Then, I would glue on a big clown smile and a "I really believe you" expression and we'd go back to doing "happy things".

One afternoon, Rey, Noah and I were out on our patio enjoying the afternoon. I don't remember what inspired it--but Noah went into a tantrum after I asked him to say "sorry" for something. He began screaming and hitting me, hitting his head against the wall. I sat in front of him, restraining him as best as I could and just waited. When he'd quiet down, I'd repeat the request for an apology and he'd go back into his raging fit. This went on for probably 30 minutes, until he said he was sorry. We began playing together with a ball, and then he began getting angry again. I reminded him that I would not play with him when he acted this way--and we had another 30 minute session. When that one was over, we went back to playing with the ball. The same thing happened again. Another 30 minute session. Finally, I said to Rey that maybe he was in some way enjoying the attention, so maybe we should try just completely ignoring him if he began acting badly again. Sure enough, in about 5 minutes, Noah was screaming again. Rey and I walked away from him and sat with our backs to him. This precious 18-month-old laid, face-down, on that cement patio and screamed, and kicked and slobbered all over the ground for over 30 minutes. Until, actually, he fell completely asleep.

Noah continued to exhibit highly anti-social behavior, and it in fact seemed to somewhat intensify. Even if we were out on a walk and Noah would see someone coming towards us from a distance of 100-some feet, he would hide behind me and refuse to move until that person had passed us. In the store, he would hide his face if someone looked our direction. He decided that church was a place he did not want to go. So, when we'd turn on to the street the church was located on, he'd begin screaming and banging his head. "No, no, nooo!" We'd get him out of the car, and he'd throw himself down onto the sidewalk, "Nooooo!" I'd drag him screaming inside and down to the bathrooms until I could convince him we were staying and that was that. He'd then refuse to be anywhere but held by Rey or myself.

Another afternoon, when I was 9 months pregnant, we were walking into the wedding ceremony of some of our best friends there in Fresnillo. On the way from the car to the building, Noah spotted a dog on the other side of the road that he decided he wanted. Now, if you've seen dogs in Mexico, you know you don't really go touching the ones wandering in the street. Also, we were teaching Noah that he couldn't have whatever he wanted. So, we said "no". It probably took us over a half-hour to advance the remaining 30 feet to the front door. Noah would begin kicking and screaming and hitting, and I would sit him down on the sidewalk, back against the wall, and tell him we would not move until he stopped screaming. We'd advance two more steps and do the same thing over again. Needless to say, we were all exhausted by the time we walked into the wedding ceremony.

In the midst of tantrums, I'd often talk to Noah in the lowest, calmest voice I could, saying: "Noah, right now this strong will of your is horrible. But, we are going to keep working with you, and one day, God is going to take this strong will and use it for His glory!" It helped to give me perspective and hope. Which, most days--I needed more than anything.

The idea of going anywhere with Noah was terrifying. I would lay awake nights, balancing out in my head if it was feasible and what my exit options might be. How could I make the outing work? I would try to coordinate the moon and stars--and inevitably end up at whichever outing with a convulsing, screaming child and an apologetic look on my face. Oh, yes. And about 5 people asking me why he was doing that? And then, usually, telling me how if I'd only ____, he'd stop.

That was, perhaps, the most difficult part of being Noah's mom in Mexico. The "helpful" parenting tips. Oh, he's screaming? Here's a sucker. Why don't you want him to have a sucker? Oh, you are so harsh. What? He doesn't like people? Ah, that's your fault for not socializing him more. You should put him in daycare.

When I was in labor with Aleni, Noah was so enfuriated with me that I was not carrying him around that he followed me around the house screaming and kicking my shins.

Of course, with Aleni's birth--things got more interesting. Now, an outing--to, let's say, the store-- would end this way: Noah screaming out of control for some reason. Me saying, "That's it, you're out" while strapping his screaming, kicking self into the carseat. And then Aleni. And, then driving home with both of them screaming. Pulling up to our gated apartment, getting out, opening the gate, driving in, shutting the gate, parking, running Aleni up to the 3rd floor. Running back down to the car to get the by-now-covered-in-snot-spit-and-sweat Noah, carting his out-of-control self up to his room. Going through the whole discipline routine, shutting him in his room (still screaming), nursing Aleni, putting her down for a nap. Running back to the car, hoping the groceries weren't spoiled. Coming back up to find Noah kicking on Aleni's door and waking her with his screams. Do another discipline cycle. And then maybe put the groceries away.

Ahh. If only I would have socialized him more!

Presenting the handsomest 18-month-old I've ever seen:

His typical response to being held by almost anyone (He actually was doing
pretty good, and I said to Rey, "Hey, let me get this on camera!" By the
time to camera came out, he was doing this):

His obsession of the time: Rocks, rocks, and rocks.

Heart-stopping cuteness:

Just hanging out:

Part 4 here:


  1. I had no idea your cute little guy was such a troublemaker! You're right though -- I'm sure God has great plans for that strong will of his. :)


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