But mostly whine.
I started my blog with the intention of cutting past all the BS you hear about being a parent and just telling it like it is. Sure, parents don’t necessarily hold back with each other (once you’re in, you’re in; no need to pretend anymore), but I know that there’s a lot of sugarcoating going on out there. There’s also a lot of fear-mongering. Parenting isn’t easy, and neither are the early not-quite-parenting-more-like-protecting phases, but parenting isn’t a nonstop nightmare either. Just like life, there’s good and bad and great and horrible and everything in between.
That said, I’m not gonna lie: our first ten months have been pretty great. All the crap has been more than offset by the good stuff. And based on some things we heard both before and after becoming parents, we feel we’ve gotten pretty lucky.
But lately? They talk about the terrible twos, but how about the terrible ten months? The last few weeks have been a whine-fest, and it’s driving my wife and I crazy. Our heretofore remarkably well-behaved baby has become a screaming banshee of discontent. If he’s not being held, he’s whining. If he’s not being fed, he’s whining. If he’s not being ______, he’s whining. Just fill-in the blanks.
It’s incessant. And it sucks. On several levels.
One: No one likes a whining baby. And believe me, whining is a broad term that encompasses crying, screaming, shrieking, etc. The most pleasant moments are when he sounds more like BobCat Goldthwait and less like the feedback portion of a Sonic Youth concert.
Two: It’s hell on his parents, especially my wife, who gets the brunt of it. She is at home with him all day, and by the time I get there she’s shell-shocked; totally exhausted, totally frustrated, totally upset with our kid and totally upset with herself for being upset with our kid. It wears on you when you can’t seem to do anything for your son, and when despite all your efforts he seems – certainly he just seems, unless he’s Rosemary’s Baby – to be generally unhappy with you as a person.
When I eventually get home from work, she is spent and stressed and looking for relief, so she hands the baby over to me. Finally, some help! I’m excited to see my boy, of course, until my boy starts screaming in my face. It’s about the only time I get with the kid during the week, but even I have my limits (which, my wife will tell you, are a lot more limited than hers), and after a long day at work it’s not exactly relaxing. If he’s gonna scream all evening? It’s time for bed. That attitude often leads to an argument; after all, my wife deals with him all day and I couldn’t even hack twenty minutes? Which itself leads, on cue, to the baby starting to scream again…
Three: Finally, there’s the nagging question of WHY? Is he teething? Probably; he ALWAYS seems to be teething. Is he sick? Maybe; he feels a little warm but that might be because he’s been screaming all morning and that would overheat anyone. Is he turning into an asshole? A spoiled brat? Are we coddling him too much? Are we bad parents? It’s possible, but too early to tell.
And on and on it goes. It’s tough, because there are times when you find yourself hating the little shrieker. Seriously. SHUT UP, YOU STUPID BABY! And then, because of how much you actually love him, you start to hate yourself for getting so aggravated with him. And then you start to question yourself: what am I doing wrong and why can’t I fix this?
It’s hard, I tell ya, this parenting gig. Not always, and never deal-breakingly so. But it’s hard.
The scariest thing is there’s not much you can do. You can try to teach the kid that screaming won’t get results but he’s a baby; reason doesn’t always work. You can try to ignore him but once your ears start to bleed that’s out the window too, so you pick him up. And then you worry that by giving in you’re just encouraging the behavior. But thank god for the few minutes of quiet (and only a few, because babies are heavy!). You look online for help, too embarrassed to ask friends for advice, but no one knows anything.
Except this: it’s all in the game.
There is nothing unique going on here. We may have had a mostly blissful ten months but there have been rough nights and rough stretches and we’re in one now. That’s just the way it goes. We’re still brand-new parents and we’re learning on the job; we always will be. On the flip side, he’s still a brand-new human and he’s learning too, what he can do (he seems to be getting the whole screaming thing down), what he can get away with, what will get a response, and on and on.
Pretty soon he’ll probably move onto a non-screaming phase (please god make it soon) and this will all be forgotten. The frustrating thing is that there’s not much rhyme or reason to it; at least not much that we can see without reading the baby’s mind (such as it is). It’s probable that he’s screaming for all of the reasons I listed above and for none of them. He’s a baby! Maybe he just likes screaming. I mean, he’s barely heard screaming before so it’s probably fascinating to his little virgin ears.
Honestly, it would be totally super-cute if it wasn’t so excruciating.
Strike that; reverse it. Hey, I’m all for telling the truth, but I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.primeparentsclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/DadandBuried-headshot.jpg[/author_image]
[author_info]About the Author
A new father coping with the shocking lows and intermittent highs (or is it the opposite?) of parenthood, regular Prime Parents’ Club contributor Dad and Buried can be found raging against the dying of his social life at www.DadandBuried.com.