Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Court Jester

You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little fucked up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny? 
                                                                                                 --Goodfellas


I've always been the funny one.  I pride myself on making light out of situations, making someone laugh or bringing general levity and merriment to a crowd.  I didn't think this skill could or would be applied to the degree to which it has upon becoming  a mom.  I'm a court jester minus the bells and faux-scepter.  I will dance, sing, make up a poem, somersault, fake a fall, recite tongue twisters, twist my mouth into a fish face complete with bubble noises, flip my hair from side to side dramatically all to elicit the smallest smile or cry of delight from my Bean.  And just like a medieval court jester, I wait for the proverbial thumbs up or thumbs down from my Regent.  

This past week was awful for both the Jester and my little Queen.  In every possible way, it was awful.  Each day ended with me bone-tired asleep by 9:30.  I was on my own taking care Bean for the first time in a week.  My pneumonia had cleared up mostly, leaving me with only slight pain and fatigue but, also with a toddler whose routine was rocked.  Bean's ferocious temper tantrums returned with a vengeance, leaving me desperately shedding tears alongside my toddler feeling just as out of control and sad as my baby.  

My sweet toddler had morphed into a terrorist.  Her freak-outs were seemingly random and without cause.  I suddenly didn't speak Bean's language.  She would look at me with tears streaming down her face screaming from the top of her lungs and there was literally nothing that I could do to assuage her.  Nothing.  My songs, my stories, my holding her only angered her more and yet when I stopped trying to comfort her, her cries increased.  Her moods hijacked whole days away from us leaving us both sad, exhausted and confused.  The jester in me tried to console her, but my every attempt to do so was met with frustrated tears.  If I was in an medieval court, I surely would have been executed.  And not just a simple beheading, probably eviscerated and fed to bears and then the bears would be hunted, their stomach contents emptied and then my body parts would be retrieved only  to be hung on the walls of the castle warning future jesters to "Be Funny or Die."

I felt like a failure.  This was my job: stay at home take and care of my child, NOT stay at home and cry while your  child flails about on the floor screaming her head off.  My 'jestering' skills got me nowhere, my mothering skills helped me even less and I was left googling for answers and calling my pediatrician because surely there must be something medically wrong with my child.  How else to explain how my sweet babe become a representative from Al Quaeda?  When and how did she sneak off to Yemen and learn to be so adept at torture?

What I found was what I already knew in my heart.  This was a stage.  Bean is expressing herself and frustrated that I don't immediately understand her words.  She is being defiant and testing her limits.  According to the many baby books that I furiously read, she is perfectly normal.  And so is mom for completely freaking out along with her.

And so, I learned like with every other stage, there is trial and error.  I learned to negotiate a little more and give Bean the illusion of choice.  I learned to react calmly to her, and not to mirror her frustration.  Most of all, I learned that sometimes we both need time-outs.  I might not be able to 'jester' her out of a fit, but now I'm smart enough to recognize what might set my little bomb off.  And if not, "I know a guy."

For the record, that guy is my husband not Joe Pesci.




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