Thursday, February 21, 2013


Somewhere, somehow, Benjamin picked up on the idea of lent. And what did he decide to give up this year? Sleeping. He went completely cold turkey.

The problem with fasting or giving something up is that we, as humans, feel a little emptiness—be that in our schedule, our heart, or whatever—and want to fill that void with something else. Ideally, fasting should allow our souls greater communion with God. Sometimes, however, it only brings about an increased desire for a Sunday afternoon nap.

Benjamin is no different from you or I and so he also needed to counterbalance his act of penance. He did this by bingeing on screaming.

We've been having a slightly-less-than-awesome week.

My sweet mannered little boy has refused to be out of my arms and when I've managed to hand him off or put him down he's howled incessantly...unless gazing directly into my eyes. Naps, if they happened at all, were short milk-induced trances. Bedtime was midnight (or later, whenever he'd stop screaming and pass out from sheer exhaustion) and our nights were interrupted by fussing and screaming and crying. Benjamin and I got our best sleep late in the mornings when we had the bed all to ourselves, cuddled up together, and completely worn out by not sleeping a wink the whole night long. We were surviving on a couple hours of sleep each night at best.

It's been an exhausting week.

Factor in Rachel and it's been a horrifying week.

I don't know what it is about Rachel but she's an energy-leech. She can't help it; she was born that way.

Right now Miriam is playing with Barbie dolls—that she dressed herself, a skill Rachel still hasn't mastered.

"It's a beautiful day!" she's singing while dancing two ball-gown clad Barbies up and down on the kitchen bench. "Such a beautiful day! I'm going to find a new dress! I can have this dress. You can have that dress. Dun-dun-dun-dun-dun!"

Miriam is not an energy-leech. She is self-entertaining and readily obedient and when she does need attention it's usually in the form of snuggles or help with a puzzle. She's so easy (and may she continue to be so).

Rachel's always been more difficult for me to manage. If anyone could scream more than Benjamin, it was Rachel. In fact, I'm sure she has a corner on the market in that department.

Yesterday Rachel screamed at me for two hours straight because after she got home from school and after we had a popcorn picnic outside and after we played hopscotch and drew with sidewalk chalk I asked her to come inside and help get things cleaned up so that we could make dinner.

She started ranting and raving and didn't stop until two hours later when she brought out a note that said, "I'm sorey Mom. I'm rilli sorey."

She often says during her fits that she doesn't want to be throwing them. I'm not sure how much control she has over her fits but she says a lot of hurtful things—things that I would never even imagine saying to my mother—and storms around kicking things and growling and everybody.

Her screaming set off Benjamin, who yowled and yowled and yowled.

For two hours I divided my time trying to pacify one child or the other while Miriam finished all of her chores and started doing Rachel's (which only fueled Rachel's fit—"I know I said I didn't want to do any chores but dusting is my favourite! How could you let Miriam do that chore? It's not fair. I want to dust! I want to dust! I want to dust!").

Anyway, finally everyone stopped screaming and I fished some leftovers out of the fridge for dinner and whipped up a batch of muffins. Rachel had veggie straws, cottage cheese, peas, and pineapple for dinner. Miriam had noodles, cottage cheese, pineapple, and beets. I had rice and peas and beets.

Don't be jealous.

The muffins were an after-thought because this is what we thought after dinner: Well, that was highly unsatisfying. I'm still hungry.

So the muffins were a bedtime snack.

Story time was the book Rachel brought home from school. She read it to Miriam because I told her that I wasn't going to read to her though I'd be happy to do story time with Miriam. Rachel volunteered to do story time with Miriam because that way they'd both still get story time but I wouldn't have to sit down and read with Rachel (because sometimes I'm mean and revoke story time privileges (like after my child has screamed "I HATE YOU!" for the twentieth time in one breath)).

Andrew came home bearing Bojangle's Bo-berry Biscuits (bless him) after the children were in bed...except for Benjamin, who was still wide awake though, as Andrew noted, not screaming.

Together we dined on bo-berry biscuits while chatting about our day before settling in to watch an episode of The West Wing and "vege," as we like to call it, while Benjamin bounced in his bouncer to get out the last of his wiggles before settling down to nurse and...falling asleep.

Benjamin fell asleep around 10:30, which is the earliest he's gone to bed in a handful of days, and I went to bed soon after (very soon after) and haven't heard a peep from him since. I did get up several times in the night to make sure he was still alive and breathing—he always was—and woke up feeling relatively rested (though I do wish I had been able to sleep for more consecutive hours than I did). He's still sleeping and I'm feeling a little unsure of what to do with myself.

Not having a screaming, needy baby to console has left a huge hole in my schedule and I need to fill it with something. Maybe I'll take a little nap...


  1. When I was a young mother, I wondered WHAT was wrong with my children because they DIDN'T scream and yell "I hate you!" I thought that was normal behavior. I didn't have any younger siblings, so I only had MYSELF to remember, and I certainly did a lot of screaming "I Hate You!" I wondered if my children really loved me, because I thought that if you really loved your mother, you needed to scream "I Hate You!" from time to time.

    Kelli did a lot of screaming, but not with "I hate you" very often; Josie probably incorporated that phrase into her tantrums the most. I do not think that you or Abbi ever had a tantrum--maybe super rarely, and David and Patrick had them infrequently.

    Isn't it wonderful that all children are different? It would be too hard to have ALL of them be screamers, and it would be too surreal to have ALL of them be the opposite.

  2. I'm sorry for your frustration the other day. How do you handle a child screaming that way? You must have great patience! It's interesting that you said she may not have control over herself during her tantrums. Glad you got some bo-berry biscuits anyway. You are a very good mother. I'm often impressed reading your posts.