As Small One turned one, his teeth started coming in and add that to his burgeoning willfulness, we were regularly in situations with screaming fits. Switzerland is a noise-sensitive place. We can’t throw glass bottles away on a Sunday because of tougher noise regulations (our glass recycling centers are disposal units on streets in front of apartment buildings). You could report your neighbors for loud music; no stiletto’s or heels walking around in the apartment (our rule for our flat). And based on the dirty looks I get when Small One is screaming, Swiss small ones appear to be the non-screaming variety. One day I’ll find out how Swiss parents do it, but until then…
I agonized about what to do – no parent wants limitations on what they can do because their child is going to make a fuss. My mind was plagued with thoughts about discipline, Is this a disobedience issue? Is there are a heart matter at stake here? Do I need to toughen up? We used the pacifier regularly to try and stem the tide of baby vitriol, but there were times when even that did not work. On one or two occasions, I even laid my hands on Small One and prayed for him to stop in the name of Jesus. That also did not work (which says more about the way I pray than the name of Jesus and the power of God, just so we’re clear).
There was two thoughts that always, always, went through my head in these moments.
I could just die right now, when oh when is this going to end.
Or if I was around people with other children….
Where are the other screaming babies? Why is mine the only one screaming? Is there something wrong with him? Something wrong with me? I hope their babies/children/etc one day go through a screaming phase, then they’ll understand what I’m going through.
I can’t remember now what I decided to do about it, but I’m fairly certain I didn’t ignore him and was consistent in telling him not to scream and asking him (and showing him) different methods of communication like hand signs and also responding to his needs when I could see very clearly what they were. In any event, a few days ago I realized that we haven’t had a screaming episode in a while. A long while.
And the angels rejoiced. The sun broke through the clouds. I had a pumpkin spice latte. It was 40 degrees, and I was in a sundress. Just kidding about the last two.
I made a point not to say anything to anyone – even Husband – about the noticeably less screaming from Small One; I don’t know why, maybe I just needed to savour it in my heart. In any event yesterday we went to Coop, where months ago he used to scream the moment we walked into the door but hasn’t done that in weeks, and wouldn’t you know, after a few minutes, the screaming started. He was easily quieted with the pacifier, but it was a little annoying. His attitude continued at home where he had no audience except for me, and today he had some screaming episodes during times that were inconvenient to say the least. Because being on a bus with a baby screaming in the stroller is not fun for anyone. The end.
I was meeting a friend at a local mall, and as Small One ran off in one direction and other, I chased after him, trying to pin him down and carry him back to where we were sitting and “talking” (there is no such thing as a proper catch up when a pre-toddler is involved).
When I caught him, I swung him up and into my arms as he wailed, and love for him washed over me completely. It too my breath away and swallowed me whole, and I said to him..
I love you and I accept you the way that you are.
And I hear it in my heart…This is what it means to live life without comparison. It means you accept people as they are. It’s the way of love. It is the higher way. It is the better way.