Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tastes and Temper Tantrums


If one was to ask me what the boy’s personality was like when he was six months old, I wouldn’t really know where to start.

He smiled sometimes, but the parenting books told me that was most likely gas.

He got angry sometimes, but experts told me that was just hunger or discomfort.

He cried and he was quite lazy, but doctors said that was because, at that age he was incapable of shoveling snow and had a very real, physical need for an abundance of sleep.

Thankfully we’re past the point where we need to look outside for answers. The boy’s growing vocabulary has helped clear up many of the miscommunications we used to have. (I say “we” but Mrs. Blackwell has always been a bit better at deciphering baby babble and its melding with the boy’s emerging English.)
The boy at about 6-8 months old. As you
can see, zero personality. 


It wasn’t that long ago that the boy was chattering about what sounded like nothing in particular.  Now he’s walking around requesting songs from bands that I didn’t know existed.

Ever heard of “Janky” by Buku by Trap? (I’m pretty sure that I’ve got that written as it appeared on iTunes.) What about “Taking it Down” by Brenmar, Let Me Know (Tasting)?

(Old man tangent: what the hell is wrong with artists who can’t just pick a name for their group, a name for their album and a name for the song? I’m sure that information is in there somewhere but, damned if it’s clear.)

Suffice it to say, at 2.5 years old, the boy’s preferences are starting to emerge, as is his personality, which he frequently uses to realize those preferences.

To wit, the boy enjoys getting Chinese food from the counter at our local grocery store. Yes, this grocery store has Chinese food — along with just about every other kind of take-out one can imagine — and our entire family agrees that it’s fantastic.

Where the boy parts ways with his parents is on the need for the family to eat there every night. Upon being picked up from day care, it’s now customary for the boy to request to be taken to grocery store so that he may satisfy the same portion of his pallet.

It’s neat that he’s got tastes and he’ll voice them but, this veers from cute to excruciating when the boy doesn’t get his way and the car turns into a four-wheeled tear factory.

Unfortunately, it’s not just the refusal of culinary requests that will trigger his crying. No, it’s fair to say that he views most of the direction he receives from his parents as an opportunity to assert and or prove the existence of free will.

This is what going for "Chinese food" can turn into.
The boy knows this and exploits it.
If you catch him at the wrong moment, it doesn’t matter what the request is.

“Hey buddy, it’s time to put down daddy’s phone. We’re pretty sure that 90 straight minutes of screen time means you automatically have attention deficit disorder.”

Cue the waterworks.

“Sorry pal, we can’t have a cookie for breakfast, especially after daddy just poured you a glass of chocolate milk. It’s not even 8 a.m. yet; Oreos, just don’t seem right.”

And with this, he loses the ability to stand and/or support the weight of any of his limbs.

None of this is new to many parents, I’m sure. We weren’t blessed with a kid who politely accepts his fate and the decisions rendered on his behalf — or one capable of reasoning and rational discourse before his third birthday.

For the most part we’ve got a kid who has opinions, has preferences and he’s going to let you know about them and, given my inability to interpret toddler babble (or nuance), this is a blessing of the highest order.

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