I took my 18-month-old to the pediatrician last week because I was convinced there was something wrong with him.
He is whiny and clingy. He cries at the drop of a hat and wakes up at night for no good reason. He will throw himself down on the floor and kick his legs and scream if you take away the tube of toothpaste he is sucking on or the scissors he’s waving over his head.
Ear infection, I figured. Maybe teething. Or maybe something else entirely, like a rare stomach ailment.
“He looks great!” the doctor told me, after examining him.
“No,” I told him. “You don’t understand. This baby is CRANKY. There is something wrong with him.”
“Nope, he’s fine,” he insisted. “Sounds like normal behavior for where he is, developmentally.”
Well, that’s awesome. My baby just has a lousy personality. I took him home and felt around in his mouth, anxiously searching for about-to-erupt molars. I found nothing.
“Juice!” he demanded. I poured him a cup of juice.
“No!” he shouted, throwing the juice down onto the floor.
You see what I’m dealing with, here.
If one were so lucky to have access to his innermost thoughts, the rest of the afternoon might have sounded like this:
Pick me up. Pick me up. PICK ME UUUUUUUUUUP. Oh my gosh put me down put me down PUT ME DOWN! I am going to flail backward and headbutt you in the nose. I am running I am running I AM FALLING HELP ME I AM INJURED! Oooh, a remote control. I am going to remove the batteries. Give me back the remote control! I am throwing my paci DOWN. I want my paci back! Give me back my paci! I am throwing my paci down. Maybe I’ll lie down on this cat. Oh! What’s in the pantry? Canned goods! I’m going to stack these right here, next to the cat food. Cat food! I’ve been meaning to move this stuff to the other side of the house. Now’s a great time. What are you doing what are you doing how could you take this cat food from me I can’t believe this is happening! I am going to lie down and kick and kick and OW MY HEAD I want UP! Put me down put me DOWN I want juice. I hate juice! I want to go outside I want my shoes! No! I hate shoes! Get those shoes away from me. I am going to stand in this doorway and see how many mosquitoes can fly in DON’T YOU DARE SHUT THIS DOOR.
I could keep going. So you see why I insisted the child was ill. You’d think, this being my third kid and all, I’d have a clue. But no, I have the Mommy Amnesia. You know, the condition that erases unpleasant memories of pregnancy/childbirth/toddlerhood. Thanks to Mommy Amnesia, we continue to perpetuate the species.
Which is why this time, I am writing this stuff down.
(Betsy Swenson is a stay-at-home mother to three and contributing writer to the Slidell Independent. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)