My cute, sweet, innocent, angel baby has discovered screaming. Not the, "Oh, he's just testing out the limits of his vocal range," screaming, but purposeful, "I don't like what we're doing right now and I don't want to be doing this anymore, so I'm going to show you my displeasure by balling up my fists and shrieking as loud as I can," screaming. And it's driving me mad.
I don't want it to drive me mad. I want to have the patience of a saint. I want it to not hurt my feelings when women in the locker room at the pool whom I can't see say, "Whoa, the lungs on that kid!" or, "Some of these kids' voices can really shatter glass, can't they?" even though they don't realize I'm just on the other side of the locker bank and I can hear them. I want to have a magic wand that will turn him back to happy, smiling baby when he screams in the face of his swim instructor and it echoes off the far walls of the massive natatorium.
Because I don't want him to be THAT baby. No one wants to have THAT baby. And generally, he's not THAT baby. He's a good baby. An easy baby. Except lately, and always around other people. And I don't want that.
I want to have him respond with calmness when I lower my voice and take deep breaths and whisper to him with a great big loving look on my face after his shuddering and sudden shrieking has nearly pierced my eardrum. I want him to have the hand control to use the sign language he's beginning to understand so he doesn't feel the need to scream. I want to crawl into a hole and die from mommy-failure embarrassment when his repetitive screams in a restaurant turn an entire table of new-mom friends towards us wondering what it is I'm doing to my son to make him freak so loudly. I want, I want, I want.
But of course, it doesn't matter what I want. He's not me. He's a completely separate human being, with his own set of wants, and he isn't in control of them, yet. Unfortunately for me, I can only do what it is I'm doing - love him, show him attention, and don't give in to the screaming, so that he'll see it's not the screams that are making me play with him, it's not the screams that bring me running (unless they're screams of terror or pain, which are different), it's not the screams that will make me stop what it is that I'm doing and do what he wants to do. The battle of wills has begun.
So for now, I'll deal with a shrieky dinner if he's done and we're not; I'll sing through the screaming diaper change when he feels he doesn't need one and clearly is mistaken, and I will apologize profusely to friends and family who are on the wrong end of his high-decibel outbursts when they appear to be completely unwarranted. "It's just a phase," I'll tell them... tell myself, really.
And I hope I'm right.