Wednesday, October 12, 2011

noah chronicles. 5

Noah was not, in those years, much of a communicator. He wasn't even a pointer. He wasn't able to tell us if he was crying because he was too hot, or because a bug bit him, or because we weren't understanding him--or simply because he wasn't wanting to obey. It made discipline a struggle and every-day kind of things a huge frustration.

He also has emotional responses to things wayyy above what they should be. A blanket not being spread out in just the right way could provoke the same response as a finger shut in a door. The wrong color of cup, positioning a paper in the wrong way, opening the door, putting on his jacket--all of these things (and muuuuch more) could provoke ear-piercing shrieks and tantrums.


Here's an example from just yesterday:

Noah asked me to write out the alphabet as he does most days. He asked me to do it be switching the colors from one letter to the next. This time I got a little wild and decided to make a big Z. See below.

Would you know that Noah shrieked as if I'd hit him over the head with a baseball bat and began to get into tantrum mode. I said I was sorry for ruining his Z and made a small one, while making the big Z's tail into a smiley (also above). No dice. That only made it worse.

Fortunately, I was in a good enough frame of mind to see this as rather humorous. I know by now that the tantrum had everything to do with Noah having this vision in his head of what the lovely creation would be, and my wild and big Z just tore it apart.

So, I didn't scream back, I just promised to fix it and made the alphabet below.

Noah was much soothed by this now-perfect representation of his mental masterpiece. However, for the next half-hour or so, every time he saw me, he'd mutter: "No, no momma. No more big Z's. Bad big Z's." What a kid.


In those days, I never once uttered the words, "He is growing up so fast". Each day felt like a year. I would actually find myself wondering how old he was. "He must be 3 by now? No, he's 2? Ohh..." Looking into the years stretched out before me of life with my precious man overwhelmed me. Would this be how the rest of my life looked?

Noah tends to enjoy high levels of repetition, bordering on obsession. Once he finds something he likes to do, he does it over and over and over again until he pretty much completely abandons it for another passion. As a baby, I could predict his exact pattern of activities, since they were the same every morning. He was like a mailman on his route, visiting the same toys in the same order. He fixated on lining his box of cars up over and over again. He went through a Thomas the Train stage where every movie had to be Thomas, and even would watch the same episodes over and over on YouTube. I know every kid goes through stages of "things they like", but for him these things were taken very seriously--as though his life depended on it. And, I will say, the peace of our home often depended on it. Right now he is consumed with letters and numbers. He spots them everywhere, from silverware scattered across the table to a shadow on the ground. It is fascinating what he sees.

Sleep for Noah was a hard thing to teach him. What we finally got to work was a pitch-black, cool room with a fan turned on (for white noise) and soft, instrumental music playing. With, of course, his blankie in hand. Through the years, he has learned to sleep in rooms that aren't pitch-black and now demands a night-light. However, he is up pretty much as soon as the sun starts coming through his curtains.

Haircuts and nail trimming. Ay ay ay. I tell people it's a wonder Noah doesn't walk around with long, curling claws and hair down to his ankles. It is a struggle to keep him "groomed". From the time the hair clippers turn on until the time they turn off, we have an extremely emotional little guy on our hands. Rey stands in front, holding Noah's arms down and keeping his legs still with his own body. I stand behind, with one arm wrapped around his head, under his chin, and the other buzzing away as quickly as possible. Noah is bright red, screaming, thrashing and sweating until we are done. We all go away covered in sweat and hair.

For nail trimming, I sit Noah down in front of me between my legs. I put on of my legs over his legs and one over his free arm. I position the arm of the hand I am trimming against my chest and hold the hand as firmly as possible... trying to trim fast without cutting him. All the while, he is doing his best to pull his hand away and kick his way out of the restraint. Every time I position the trimmers to cut a nail, he screams in agony, "Owwww, owww! Stop, momma! All done!!" Can a person have sensors in the tips of their finger nails?? And, I will just put it out there--I have never cut him, so it's not like he's going off of some past trauma.


With Noah, his "issues" are hard, because they aren't "visible". His responses can just come across as--well, should I say it?--pure brattiness. As in, "If that mom would just consistantly discpline him, he'd be whipped into shape in no time." And, that's difficult to see written on the faces of hundreds while we are out and about dealing with these Noah things.

The impact of Noah on our family is, as I'm sure you are already imagining, huge. How much do we change our lifestyle for his sensitivities? How much do we make him just "deal with it" so we can get out and about? How do we make sure Aleni isn't lost in the shuffle? How do we make sure to not let "this" drive a wedge between Rey and I?

I don't think there is a cut-and-dried answer for those questions. It is, as are many things in life, an answer found in a lot of little daily decisions. It is found in taking time for Rey and I to see if we are on the same page with things. It is being willing to be wrong, if it means your family will be more healthy by changing. It is in stopping and being intentional. It is in not allowing yourself to use tiredness as an excuse.

My favorite moments are when they are together... and happy:

Maybe wouldn't know it by looking, but the people present at this photo shoot know that we were shooting between multiple stormy tantrums and lots of screaming. Oh, happy times.

Part 6 here:


  1. clippers? really? I had the same exact problem. Pablo would throw up ! He was so scared of those clippers.... Everything changed when I decided to try to take him to a hairdresser that would use only scissors. It is a little more expensive but with Pablo it works. I have to remind him that the hairdresser will not use the clippers at all and he is happy. It might work with Noah too, who knows?

  2. hey, lucia! thanks for the comment... hmm. we may have to try that. of course, pablo's hair is much calmer than noah's is... i am not sure how nice it would look trimmed with scissors... but i'm guessing noah would find it to be much less tramatic... :)


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