Wednesday, August 18, 2010


It was one of those perfectly gorgeous summer days.
The sun gently toasted any exposed and vulnerable bits, arms and cheeks, dangling legs, the sky was perfectly polished and pockets of confetti-flowers bloomed on every corner.

We had just left the Shambhala Center where we'd gathered for a Children's Blessing, having mingled with kids of all ages, dispositions, demeanors.
My mother-in-law and I crossed the street, with Opal strapped to my belly, facing out, when I noticed what was happening behind the windshield of the car that'd stopped for us.

The driver was throwing a tantrum.

He shook his head fitfully and threw his upper-body against the steering wheel while grunting audibly through the open window. By the time we reached the other side, clearly at a pace not to his liking, he sped forward like a drunken drag-racer.

Watching a grown man throw a fit like that is quite a sight to behold. Very different from watching my almost-ten month old daughter, who is currently embarking on her own phase of tantrum-throwing, do the same.

When things don't go as she anticipates, or when she'd just plain rather be doing something else, —which is much of the time, frankly— she lets us know her opinion by intensely protesting. Getting in the carseat, for example, when she had it in her mind to stay on the floor and play with the farm-animal puzzle is met with arched-back squirming and wailing. Removing something from her little hands that she was interested in or moving her away from something of intrigue are actions that are met with the same response.

Clearly, her little mind it able to hold on to ideas and mental pictures like it hadn't before. Life is expanding from the exclusivity of simply here and now. She recognizes her little friends when we have play-dates. She shrieks when the dog-leash comes out with the expectancy of going out for a walk. (The leash renders a pavlovian response in both the baby and the dog, as a matter of fact.) She identifies her Ohio-family on the computer screen when we Skype and smiles a silly, tooth-flaunting grin when their 2-dimensional faces appear before her.

This new capacity for recognition and remembering is astounding.

Diaper changing is currently the most upsetting of all the daily rituals and the opposition begins before her booty even hits the table. The endearing squirms of a newly-mobile baby have recently shifted to animated distress; screaming, kicking, red-faced scowling, thigh-smacking and pushing herself over. Using every ounce of her baby-power to resist. A few rounds of this—ahem, especially when poop is involved— and I was beginning to wonder just how long I could put off the next diaper change.
Clearly something needed to change or else mommy would promptly commence to losing her mind.

Aside from occasionally needing to re-direct her from putting shoes in her mouth and pulling on electrical chords, discipline has simply not been a needed skill until now. But surmounting new territory—and making it up on the spot according to what a situation calls for—is nothing new.
In the case of diapering, a firm hand on the chest accompanied by a deep no with a head-shake seems to get the point across. She may continue to cry and throw anything she can grab against the wall, but she stops the wild swiveling, at least for long enough to accomplish the mission-at-hand. She may even settle completely, seeming relieved and even grateful, to let go of the depleting struggle.

Then we're all done.
We move on to the next thing and she sees the dog and screeches with glee and crawls towards her as fast as her little legs and arms will proceed, breathing heavily and preciously through her two front teeth..
Again, the world is wonderful, simple, accommodating place to be and there is no residue.

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