Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Frustration Raspberry

I’ll admit it: I’m a bad mother. I am guilty of laughing at my child’s grief. But my excuse is that I just can’t help it. And you’ll understand why when I explain his latest trick: the frustration raspberry.

Ryan is obviously both a bright and a strong-willed child, and intelligence and determination mixed with the limited abilities of a one-year-old can be a very frustrating combination. So when Ryan wants something that he can’t have, or that he can’t figure out how to get, he gets frustrated. And he demonstrates that frustration in different ways: sometimes he cries, sometimes he yells, sometimes he bangs things, but most often of late, he blows something I’ve dubbed the “frustration raspberry”. There are several variations of the raspberry, but it always includes a lot of noise and a lot of spit. And it is hilarious.

Picture it: a small, determined child attempting to climb out of his playpen, standing on top of toys to boost himself up, reaching up to Mummy or Daddy for assistance, bracing his feet against the wall, pulling himself up using the TV cabinet. Suddenly he realizes that all his efforts are futile, and he contorts his face into a pout and lets loose with a loud, wet raspberry. The poor kid is angry and puzzled and frustrated, and I’m laughing at him. But how can a parent not laugh at that?

Fortunately, I don’t think he’s yet aware enough to feel slighted by my laughter (although he is no doubt offended by my lack of assistance). I think I have some time to practice laughing silently at his predicaments, so by the time he is aware I will have mastered the art of the straight face. I imagine there will be many times in the future when I need to excuse myself to laugh in private, then compose myself and go console him or help him solve his difficulty. There will probably be times when I hold my laughter in until I can call or e-mail his father and share the story between my gales of laughter. There may even be times when both his father and I excuse ourselves to another room and then laugh ourselves silly.

But I suspect that the best of times will be many years from now, when we show Ryan himself some of his comico-tragic moments on tape and we can all share the laughter together.

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