Saturday, February 2, 2013

Crying Wolf


I've been a mother for over seven years, but I still don't really know my kids' cries. People say that when you become a parent, you'll learn that your child has different cries: A tired cry, a hungry cry, a sad cry, a fussy cry, a scared cry, a dirty diaper cry, a bored cry, a pain cry... the list goes on. When S was born, we jumped at every noise. If she sighed a little differently while sleeping at night, The Hub and I hovered over her and watched her chest rise and fall, just in case that particular sigh was her last breath. Morbid, I know. But, these are the scary thoughts that plague the minds of new parents. With time, you're supposed to figure out the different types of cries. Each baby is different and each baby produces unique sounds. I'm here to report that it's not always that easy. Somehow, I failed to acquire the ear for cries.

S would cry everyday about something. She would cry if she woke up too early or too late. She would cry if she didn't like the meal we served her. She would cry if someone looked at her too long. She would cry at the end of her favorite cartoon. She would cry at bath time and bedtime. It was like living with a toddler with PMS. I'll admit, I'm an emotional person, but even in my lifetime, I've never cried as much as she did those first three years. During one especially emotional month, I asked her pediatrician if she needed Prozac. He assured me it was "just a phase and she'd grow out of it." He was right. Around the age of four, S stopped crying everyday. 

The problem now is that her cries are inconsistent with the cause of the cry. If she has a serious crash on her bike, she might shed a few quiet tears. If we turn off her cartoons, S will reenact Sally Field's cemetery break down from Steel Magnolias. I just can't judge the severity of the problem based on her reaction. Recently, S was running down the hall with our dog, Bailey. Bailey is a 65 pound pitbull who truly believes she is a little lap dog. 
Me: Stop running down the hall, S.
S: Bailey and I are playing chase and having fun. I'll be careful.
Me: Seriously, stop running. You'll get hurt.
S: I won't get hurt, mom. We're just playing.
Me: Fine. Don't come crying to me when you do!
BAM! 
S: (calmly) Mommy? I fell down and hit my face.
Me: See?! Told you so. Go sit down.
S was really quiet and I started to feel bad for not checking on her. So after a few minutes of gloating in my mommy wisdom, I checked on S. It turns out that Bailey suddenly turned in front of S mid run and tripped S. S fell forward and smacked her face against the door frame. The few minutes I left her alone on the couch, a goose egg bump formed on her cheek and within a few hours, she had a dark purple bruise that covered her eye and half her face. S barely cried.

My younger daughter, B, (age 3 1/2) has one cry. On a scale from one to ten, it's an eleven. It doesn't matter if she's a little moody or seriously injured, her default cry is that of a wild animal being skinned alive. She will tilt her head back, close her eyes, open her mouth, and wail. I believe she is part banshee or we have a Death Metal frontman somewhere in our blood line. It's a blood-curdling noise and will turn your hair white. No joke. I really should buy stock in Nice and Easy 118 Natural Medium Brown. 

Basically, B "cries wolf." Every "bad" situation is an emergency. Every moment of discomfort or pain is of epic proportions. It's go big or go home. I can only hope that B will turn off the daily waterworks around her fourth birthday. 

That is why I can't figure out my kids' cries. Or screams, for that matter. When they are playing in the other room, I'll hear some serious shrieks and a desperate call for MAMA! I'll jump up and run to the room, half expecting to see blood or an exposed bone. 

Me: WHAT? WHAT IS WRONG?!
Kids: Oh Hi, mommy!
Me: What is going on? Why did you yell for me like that?
B: We're playing Monster Attack and S is the mommy* and I'm the baby and S is trying to save me from the monster.
S: Yeah, mom. Why are you so upset? We're playing nicely like you told us to.

*Due to the high frequency of confusing a cry for the pretend mom with a call requesting me, I added Rule #264:
Whereas, We have taken into Our Royal Consideration the need for active imaginations and play to further our offspring's overall development, let it be known from this day forward, all imaginary maternal guardians will be addressed as "Mother." Her Majesty The Queen of the Household (your real mother), shall only acknowledge and respond to "Mommy, Mom, Mama, Ma." Any person in violation of said rule will be hung from their toes and given cold oatmeal for breakfast.

In order to make sense of my kids' cries and screams, I have devised this chart which shows the appropriate cry/scream for any given situation. Before anyone decides to have an emotional reaction, they must first refer to this chart and adjust their intensity accordingly.


Terese Lavallee
There better be a Honey Badger in that room or you're all in big trouble!
(Click on chart to enlarge)

I know that once the kids become more proficient with the English language and learn to better articulate their feelings, I will be able to decipher their needs with ease and accuracy. I encourage the girls to "use their words" and calm down when trying to explain what happened to make them so upset. It takes time and patience... something that I still work on everyday. I have learned to not react to every cry and scream right away. Unless I hear glass breaking, smell smoke, or worse, complete silence, most times, my kids are okay. We have health insurance so when the inevitable trip to the ER happens, we're covered. Like their bodies, they are growing into their emotions. I try to remember what my pediatrician said whenever our household is in the midst of emotional chaos: It's just a phase and they'll grow out of it.

... Until they become teenagers.



12 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Dear Erin,
      Thanks for laughing!!!
      Love,
      Terese

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  2. "default cry"... thanks for the laugh Terese!
    It always amazes me how a couple of siblings can be so different. Even their cries.

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    Replies
    1. Dear Katerina,
      I think that's why so many parents have second children... they think that he/she will be just like their older sibling and because they think they figured out their first born, the second born will be a breeze. (At least, that's what I thought!) They might look similar but how they act is another story.
      Thanks for reading!!
      Love,
      Terese

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  3. Trying to learn a Grandchild's cries are even worst. They all sound like an "emergency". Even screams of delight can stop you in your tracks if you are not right there... Great blog!! Nice way to start a day with a smile and good laugh!!
    PS: There are some adults who could use this chart....
    LOL!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Anon,
      Ha! Yeah, I can see how that could be hard on the Grandparents. Feel free to print out this chart and show it to the grandchildren when they come to visit. Maybe put a copy in the break room of your office. ;)
      Thank you for reading! I'm so glad you got a good laugh this morning!!
      Love,
      Terese

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  4. So true - lots of wisdom in this blog. Loved it - again! :) n

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear N,
      Thanks so much!!! I think the wisdom in the blog is mostly admitting that I don't know what I'm doing most of the time and that it's okay. ;)
      Live and learn, amiright?!
      Much love,
      Terese

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  5. Terese, so funny. I loved "toddler with PMS" --that was hilarious and I can think of so many situations where it is so appropriate.

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    Replies
    1. Dear Carol,
      Thank you so much! I feel bad for The Hub... he is so out numbered with the estrogen laden roommates! I know it'll only get worse when the girls get older. I'm going to frame the chart and hang it on the wall. I think we'll need it for years to come. ;)
      Thanks for reading!!
      Love,
      Terese

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  6. TOOOOOO Funny - Hey, wait. Sounds like you and your sisters when you were S & B's age! Love, poPs

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    Replies
    1. Dear poPs,
      I'm so glad you enjoyed this post!!!
      But, I have NO idea what you are talking about. We were perfect angels. All the time. Every day. We never raised our voice above a library whisper. I also clearly remember that our rooms were always clean, we always ate our vegetables, we always did what you and mom told us to do, we peacefully drifted off to sleep in our own beds every night, and we never fought with each other. Perfect angles. (At least that's what I tell the girls. I don't think they believe me either.) ;)
      Love you!!
      Terese

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