May 25, 2011

Sailing the Seas of Cheese

“I like most music, except Primus and yodeling.”

I remember saying that more than once in my days at Florida State University. So what better way to title a post about tantrums—then by citing the album by a band I that I loathed to hear. Even now, my shoulders kind of creep toward my ears in anticipation of the first few dreaded notes of “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver.”

Likewise, we—the Parental Units—have been on guard waiting for young Master B’s Mega-Epic Bad Time Tantrum Explosion. When he’s a teenager, I’ll be sure to suggest that he name his first band that. To which, I’m sure he’ll reply, “Suck it, Mom.”

But I digress. I remember when other parental units used to sigh and shake their heads when I mentioned that young Master B had hit the terrible twos. “Just wait until he turns 4,” many people said. Wait indeed. In the blink of an eye, he will transform from a pleasant chatty boy to a screaming mess of flailing limbs. The crazy part is that these tantrums arise from seemingly benign situations—he watched a Diego, but wants to watch another one; or he doesn’t want to change from pajamas to day clothes. Imagine the Incredible Hulk as a 4 year old—angry, impulsive, and nigh impossible to contain. Trust me, you won’t like him when he’s angry.

Once underway, these tantrums require every inch of my own self-will to stay calm and emotionally disconnected, because frankly, I’d rather tell him to suck it and walk away. I’m not always successful in keeping my cool—as Parental Unit #2 would tell you. When I do manage some degree of patience and the Mega-Epic Bad Time Tantrum Explosion ends, I just want to crawl into a little ball and watch reruns of America’s Next Top Model. What? Oh c’mon, you know that show is even more hilarious over repeated viewings—unlike tantrums.

We’re trying new pre-emptive strategies—kudos to Parental Unit #2 for talking to young Master B this morning about how to handle situations when you don’t get what want. Dare I hope this little chat made an impact on young Master Bertram? As for my own attempts, I could feel Bertram ramping up for Mega-Epic Bad Time Tantrum Explosion last night. Instead of getting angry when he yelled at me, I used humor. I told him in my best announcer voice, you know the voice of the dude who does commercials for mud bogs or vehicle demolitions, that guy, “Oh that’s too bad, because I’m going to read the greatest story in all the world.” Then, I proceeded to go around the apartment, dramatically turning off the lights, while promoting the story I intended to read, “Greatest. Story. In. The. Wooooorld.” It worked—situation diffused.

Honestly, I feel that I’m still holding on to the shell shock of young Master B’s colicky past—so the anticipation, the waiting for the next Mega-Epic Bad Time Tantrum Explosion is actually more stressful than the tantrum itself. It’s an anticipation similar to what I felt like during that summer of 1993, when I could bank on hearing that Primus song, eventually.

May 16, 2011

Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want

Good times for a change
See, the luck that I've had
Can a good man
turn bad

Bertram doesn’t sleep well. Still.

I hate to say it, but I’ve given up on sleep training, on naps, on spending ridiculous amounts of time coaxing him to sleep. Some people are just craptastic sleepers. I’m one of those people, and I passed that trait to young Master Bertram. Lately, I just fire up the old lap top and invite Bert to get comfy and watch old music videos with me. The rule is, “No Dora. No Thomas. Mommy picks what we watch.” Somehow, he rolls with this. Good, quiet videos include

David Sylvan’s Orpheus
The Cure Caterpillar Girl
Grace Jones Slave to the Rhythm (quite possibly best video of all time)
Xymox (aka Clan of Xymox) Moscovet Mosquito
The Smiths There Is A Light That Never Goes Out

I’ve found that after three or four of these videos, young Master B is on his way to Snoresville. Almost four years of struggle only to realize I only had to turn to the power of 1980s music. Have I ever mentioned just how much MTV I watched? Gosh, no I haven’t?

My own parental units will attest that, as a teenager, I spent countless hours glued to MTV. It annoys me that I can’t remember what I did two weeks ago, but I can recall Robert Smith and Porl Thompson huddled together in falling wardrobe in Close to Me. Parental Unit #2 spent his own teenage years in Hawaii, mostly free from mainstream pop culture. He can’t indulge me.

So it is these past nights, my son lays on my lap while I play Youtube video clips of Morrissey, Gene Loves Jezebel, the Cure, and Siouxsie & the Banshees. Dark, gloomy music full of lost and unrequited love, of hopes quirky and sad, solitude and suffering. This music was the soundtrack to my teenage years, when I stayed up until 2 or 3am, writing in a journal about boys who didn’t notice me. I also wrote a crazy amount of fiction then, short stories, poems. I imagined myself an ARTIST.

I’m 37. I would like to believe that I’m an adult, but traces of that teenage storm and drang remain in me, a twinge of what I did not accomplish as a writer, as an artist, as a creative person. Yet, when I look at these photos of my children, I think, for once, I got exactly what I wanted.

Take that Morrissey.