Sunday, March 28, 2010

Screaming Spawnlet

"Fleshloaves" is my new favorite word for my children. "Spawn" was getting so tired. Or maybe they could be Spawn (The Child) and Fleshloaf (2.0).

Killing time until I have to feed Fleshloaf (and it is SUCH an apt name; the little beast is enormous, having gained about 5 pounds already). I will recount a funny story about Spawn. Because I know how much you all care about my preshus chilluns.

She has these alphabet flashcards she carries around the house like a security blanket. Each letter has the word, a picture of that thing, and then the word in Spanish. Forty-seven times a day, we read through it together, and I make sound effects to go with the word whenever possible. More on that in a moment.

Well, "D" is for "dog," of course. She has recently learned "woof" (well, "ff," actually; it took me a while to figure out) which means she has stopped saying "dog," and instead struts around the house going, "ff, ff, ff," every time she sees or hears a dog.

So, we got to "D," and I was trying to get her to say "dog." Don't want her to forget her words, as if I have much control over it at all. I pointed to the dog picture and said, "Grace, what's that?"

And she very proudly pointed to it and exclaimed, "Mamaaaa!"


So these flashcards are idiotic. No, they're not. They're a great toy, but some of them just make you go, "Huh?" We have cow, dog, goat, horse, and... jacks, violet, quack (with a picture of a duck saying, "quack"; tell me that's not confusing), and x-ray. You try making a sound effect for "violet." And what kid under the age of three is going have any clue what jacks are?

But her vocabulary is just exploding, so they're accomplishing something. She has well over 50 words now (that's an estimate, but I've been keeping a tally because I know the pediatrician is going to ask at our next appointment, and once again I'll look really dumb for not know the answer to yet another question on development, and more on that later), and I think she learns at least two more every day.

Let's be honest, babies are cute and fat and fuzzy, but they sure are boring. Cute, fat and fuzzy is all they have going for them. Older babies start to grow personalities, but they also start to grow tempers and the ability to locomote. Grace is finally at the age where she's almost completely reliable when I tell her not to touch something or go somewhere. She's learning new words every day, and she's learning to entertain. This whole parenting thing is suddenly far more rewarding that it was before. More taxing, too, but that's okay. A little challenge makes things more interesting.

So, pediatrician appointments. Every time we've gone in, I've tried to anticipate developmental questions so I can answer at least half of them instead of gawping at the nurse and saying, "Uuuuuh...?" Some of them are reasonable: "Is your child sitting up?" "Is your child walking?" And some of them are more like, "Is your child able to tap her fingers on her nose while simultaneously skipping down the sidewalk, leading with either foot?" And no matter how ridiculous the question is, the nurse always manages to make me feel like an idiot (I think it's this particular nurse; we've always had the same one for this portion of the visit).

I don't think she does it on purpose. I think this is a very boring part of her job, and she asks this same list of questions to 100 different parents of children about Grace's age every single day, and I would probably zone out, too. But I'm neurotic about some things, and this is one of them.

Speaking of Spawn, she has once again taken to waking up a couple hours after bed and screaming bloody murder off and on for the next couple of hours. Because I have my hands full with Fleshloaf, I haven't responded. It only makes it worse. One of us goes in there once to make sure she's not dying of thirst or in a dirty diaper, but after that she's on her own. Since she's not just across the hall from us anymore, it doesn't keep us awake. But I can't help but feel like a horrible mother. I have no idea what's causing this. I have no idea what to do about it. And I know that going in there and picking her up only prolongs it.

Tonight it's been especially awful. James thought it might be her teeth (oh my gosh she sprouts a hundred of them at a time; right now it's all of her canines), so he gave her some Tylenol. No help. She's screaming again. And it's not just an oops-I-fell-down scream, like she does if she thinks she has a receptive audience. No, it's full-out Satan-himself-is-tormenting-me screaming.

The first few times, it was clearly just for show; she knew that scream would get us in there, so she faked it, and then wanted to have a party. We wised up, stopped going in there more than once, she got a clue, and all was good for a few weeks. Well, now she's back at it, and this time it doesn't seem like she's doing it for show. Nightmares? Growing pains? What? I have no idea. Ugh. All these words she's learning, and she has yet to acquire any truly useful ones, other than "more." Feh.

It seems so wrong just to let her cry like this (I am not averse to letting a child cry, especially not one of her age, but people, these screams are like something out a terribly disturbing movie involving an orphanage and cannibals), but so far it's been the most effective way to deal with it. Any ideas?

ETA: She's almost 18 months now.


  1. Ah, flashcards. What fun. However, I can top your confusing "quack" with a picture of a duck for Q. We had some cards, and for X they had a picture of a fox, with 'foX' next to it. Oh yes. With the X capitalised. OK, I know they're scraping the barrel for words beginning with X, but they could have found something, ANYTHING, at least beginning with an X? X-ray? Xylophone? Xenophobia (although to be fair, I don't know what picture they'd draw for that, or how you'd explain it to an infant).
    Oh, and well done Spawn (LOVE it, btw :D) on the 50 words! My son goes through phases of learning a new word and repeating it constantly for days, or until he learns another one, which the replaces the original repeated word. Coincidentally, it was 'Dog' the other day. Normally, he grunts along to his favourite songs to the tune of the song, last week he was saying 'Dog dog dog' to the tune of his favourite songs. And he'll be crying, shouting 'Dog!' and you have to play a guessing game to find out whether 'dog' means 'Drink' 'snack' 'tired' or something else this time. Anyway, I don't think he's saying anything close to 50 words yet, Spawn is a real bright spark!

  2. Ooh, forgot to add: Sorry about the lack of sleep! It's the worst. I'll be honest, when I know there's nothing wrong with them other than a desire to scream themselves hoarse at 3AM in order to deprive their long suffering mother of sleep, I ignore. I've had success with it. It's just a battle of wills. Good luck!

  3. By the way, you're making me feel guilty. My second just turned 17 months, and she has nowhere *near* 50 words! Eek! She has, uh, maybe 6? Perhaps I need some flash cards. :)

  4. Well, it has nothing to do with us. Don't feel bad. I'm terrible at chattering away when I have no interaction, which is what you're supposed to do with your kids. I try, but it just doesn't happen. I think this is just the thing that she happens to be developing most quickly right now. Remember, she didn't learn to walk until she was 17 months old.