Monday, May 24, 2010

It's Just a Phase (I Hope)

"Phase" seem to be a big buzzword in parenting circles. Is your child whiny? Don't worry, it's just a phase. Is he refusing to eat his vegetables? It's okay, it's just a phase. Does he say "NO!" to everything you say? It'll pass, it's just a phase. So I'm really hoping that Ryan's screeching is just a phase.

When it's the middle of the day, he's inside the house, and he's screeching with happiness, it's not a problem. In fact, I find it quite endearing. However, when it's in church, in the car, directly into my ear, or in the middle of the grocery store, it's somewhat less endearing. When it's a screech of frustration, or anger, or boredom, it's considerably less endearing. And although he's not old enough to have any concept of the word "no", I still find myself scolding him with a severe, "Ryan, NO!" when he screeches at an inopportune time.

The most difficult part of it is that there's rarely any kind of warning. No buildup, no fussiness, no slowly increasing volume to give any kind of heads up as to what's coming. Nope, it's just a sudden SCREECH, from 0 to 11 on the dial in about half a second. If I knew he were getting fussy or frustrated, I'd try to head it off - I could distract him with a toy, or a bottle, or a tickle. But there's no chance for that. It simply happens out of the blue. I'm not quite sure if it suddenly occurs to him that he's unhappy, or if he's been mentally dealing with it for a few minutes and it suddenly overwhelms him. Maybe it's even that he's dealing with it in a different way and suddenly thinks to himself, "Hm, I bet I'll feel better if I just let it all out.  EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!"

I can't fault him for that. When I was in college, during finals week we had something called the "Ten O'Clock Scream". Every night at 10:00pm, we would all stick our heads out the windows of the dorms and do a primal scream at the top of our lungs. It was a great way to relieve stress. Scared the heck out of anyone around who hadn't been warned, but it definitely made us all feel better. So I can understand the primal release that Ryan must get from simply screaming.

But I still hope it's just a phase.

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