Holiday adventures … and one very grumpy baby

While Gary was away on his golf-trip-extraordinaire, I decided to brave a trip down to Ballito with the kids and my mom in tow. We left Joburg on (a rather chilly) Saturday morning, just after eight, with the car packed to the brim, the DVD players in place, Cars 2 queued and ready, and a forecast for better weather ahead.

In theory, Caris should have had her morning nap along the way, so we were all set to make it past Harrismith with my sanity in-tact, and we could stop somewhere for lunch around 12. The thing about theories, is that they seldom apply in actual reality, and Caris decided NOT to sleep, and was pretty grumpy by 10 o’clock. She whinged and whined and cried for the better part of an hour, refusing to take her beloved dummy or a toy or watch teletubbies on the in-car-entertainment-system. (Might I just add that this was completely out of character behaviour for her…) I could feel my blood pressure rising, and a dull headache had seated itself nicely behind my right eye.  At one point, I pulled over on the side of the road, decelerating from 130 to zero in what felt like a millisecond, to put her dummy back in her mouth (which she had thrown onto the floor in frustration, out of reach, a few moments earlier) and shout at her give her a stern talking to. I think she got such a fright, that she was stunned into being quiet for the next half an hour until we stopped for lunch. The second part of the journey was a little better, as she had a short nap, but she woke up about an hour before we got there (damn those noisy rumble strips on the roads at the toll gates) and the crying resumed for the last 45 minutes of the journey. I have never felt so stressed and freaked out in my life. I could see the newspaper headline in my mind’s eye: “SCREAMING BABY CAUSES WOMAN TO CRASH INTO BARRIER ON N3. 4 DEAD.”

Little did I know that this was just the start of a few NIGHTMARE days, as she was transformed from her usual chilled, happy-go-lucky, smiley self,  into a whiney, clingy, cries-every-time-I-put-her down, non-napping disaster. To say that Caris has been an easy baby from the word go, would be an under statement. She has been an incredibly easy baby. She eats well, sleeps well, and is generally of a happy disposition. I am that  mother who, somewhat smugly, says things like “my baby is the easiest baby on the planet”. So this little episode caught me completely off guard. I still do not know what was actually wrong with her, but I can say that the delightful (NOT) screeches and screams every time she did not want to be put down, went through my head like a jack-hammer. (Actually, a jack-hammer is probably a lot more pleasant.) I think my biceps have expanded by a few centimetres from constantly lifting her little 10KG body up. At one point, I even took her to the local GP, to see if she maybe had an ear infection or something nasty brewing that was making her so unhappy. There was nothing medically wrong, so I left the doctor’s rooms a few hundred Rand poorer, with my (still VERY) grumpy baby glued to my hip. Perhaps it was a combination of missing her daddy, her nanny, being out of her usual routine, and the very nasty molar that surfaced when we got back home; or perhaps it is the inevitable transition from a contented baby to a more demanding toddler. But thankfully she is mostly back to her usual self. (Although she does seem to be getting A LOT more vocal and frustrated if she doesn’t get her own way, and stomps her little feet and kicks her legs if you take something away from her. *SIGH* It seems that I may in fact have a TODDLER on my hands again… and just when Alex seems to be growing out of that crap nonsense. )

In between the clinginess and unsolicited crying, we did at least manage to go to the beach when the weather was nice, played on the jungle gyms in the afternoons, visited the Flag animal farm, and took a trip to the aquarium. Obviously. (Our usual holiday routine.) In typical Holiday Weather fashion, our last day was spent in a shopping centre due to heavy, unrelenting rain. We saw Madagascar 3, which was brilliant. Alex loved it, and Caris slept though it (!) so all was good with the world on our last day!

(… And despite the rather frustrating few days, Little Miss is just a bundle of cuteness at the moment. She is becoming more interactive and vocal by the day, and will point and gesticulate furiously at something she wants, particularly FOOD! She loves her new “Y-bike”, and was thrilled to have Alex push her around the house (VERY fast I may add!) She loves playing with cars and says “Brrrrrrrrr” as she crawls along pushing it as fast as her fingers will allow. The cutest, is when said car disappears under the table, bed or couch, and she gets down on her hands and knees, with her bum in the air, to have a look under the furniture to see where it went! I just love her to bits!)

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Please stop the whining. Pretty please!

Alex is driving me mad. With incessant whining. About everything. From not wanting to watch TV, to wanting to watch TV, to not wanting to wear his black shoes, to wanting milk/water/juice, to not wanting to eat dinner/bath/get dressed. This morning, he wailed and screamed because his white shoes had been washed and were still wet. So I put on his black shoes, which he had worn yesterday with no problem. He promptly removed them, threw them on the floor and ran away screaming “I don’t like my black shoes”. WTF? ARGGH! I have tried the calm “what is the matter, what do you want my boy, please speak in your nice voice” approach, as well as the (embarrassed to admit) shouting at him in frustration approach. Neither works. And the whining continues to drone through my head like a jack-hammer. Come to think of it, a jack-hammer would probably be more pleasant. Whilst I appreciate that this is just another phase, my already spread thin patience is running out.

And to think that I thought he had missed the “terrible two’s” (and three’s) altogether. When all of my friend’s toddlers were behaving like Rosemary’s baby, Alex was happy as Larry. No bullshit, no non-compliance, no whining. That was until two and a half (by which point I was 7 months pregnant with Caris, and not as patient as I maybe could have been.) My once happy boy was suddenly moody, sulky, whiny, and prone to throwing himself on his knees in a pitiful wail, at the mere mention of perhaps having to do something he didn’t want to. It peaked when Caris was a few weeks old, when he treated me to a full-blown throw-yourself-on-the floor-in-a-screaming-rage tantrum in the middle of pick ‘n pay. All because I offered to buy him a toy car, but he couldn’t decide which one to choose. So there I was, tiny baby asleep in pram, psychotic almost-3-year old writhing on the floor, with horrified shoppers glaring at me, and the odd sympathetic smile from a mom who’s been-there-done-that!

The on-the-floor tantrums were fairly short-lived thank God, but have been replaced by (really annoying) whining. I am sure that if anyone took the average 2 or 3 year old for a psychiatric assessment, the diagnosis would be chronic Schizophrenia. One minute they are full of the joys of spring, the next, demon-possessed. The last few days have tipped the scale towards the dark side. His saving grace, is that in between whining, he is funny, cute, loving and charming.

It is said that animal babies in the wild are cute so that their mothers don’t eat them… maybe that is true of humans too!