Taming the Beast

We seem to have reached an exciting and stormy new phase in Lucy's development, about 11 months early by my count: tantrums. Wednesday morning, she repeatedly pointed to something high on a shelf, her lips pursed and blowing. Hark! She wanted the container of bubbles up there. Genius baby, I thought. So I took her outside on the front lawn to blow the bubbles. But the special container designed to keep her from spilling the bubbles also prevented her from being able to get the wand in and out of the container, which she wanted to do HERSELF. Unsuccessful, and uninterested in my help, she threw herself onto the grass in a screaming, snotty rage. The hysterics grew and she could only be calmed after several minutes of Baby Einstein.

On Saturday, she spied another container of bubbles, which Jason handed to her. On finding it empty, the beast emerged again — she dramatically collapsed on the kitchen floor in a full-on, wall-eyed fit. This was an illustrative moment about our different parenting styles: I was practically in tears myself, saying "What do we do? Look at her, she's acting like an asshole." Jason just stood there and laughed his ass off.

The thing is, we're both right. On the one hand, it's just plain hysterical — both the idea that anything in this loved, well-fed child's life merits such melodrama and that she's capable of expressing it. On the other hand, at some point we have to figure out what to do. We were out a few times this weekend, and I could see a little storm stirring in Lu's head. I wished I had some kind of plan, some technique besides "give the beast whatever it wants, anything to stop the screaming." That feeble technique won't work because these fits seem to be borne of frustration about something she can't say or do herself, not something she wants that I could give her. And if I could always give it to her, wouldn't that turn her into an asshole?

The answer to these questions, or at least some varied, published opinions, are in the parenting section of the bookstore, which I haven't visited since the simpler times when sleeping and eating were our main concerns. I hadn't expected to be back there until she was closer to the terrible twos. Maybe the early appearance of tantrums is just further evidence of her accelerated development, the bratty little genius.