Friday, January 20, 2012

Llama, Llama, Snotty Drama

In typical two-year-old fashion, my son is a complete drama llama. When he doesn’t get his way, he sobs. When he can’t find a particular toy, he sobs. When it’s time for a nap, he sobs. When it’s time to put away his toys and sit down for dinner, he sobs. If my husband or I scolds him, he throws himself to the floor and – you guessed it – he sobs. The sobs are mainly a put-on (or at least an exaggeration), as proven by his ability to turn off the tears in the blink of an eye if he gets distracted. And there are times when a few tears are appropriate and genuine. Being both a klutz and a bit of a daredevil means he has his share of stubbed toes, bonked heads, and smashed fingers, all of which result in – all together now – sobbing. Fortunately, since the genuine pain is overlain with a solid layer of drama, a kiss from Mama is generally sufficient to stop the tears immediately.

Much like the mother of an infant quickly learns which cry means it’s hungry, which means it’s wet, and which means it’s angry at being left alone, the mother of a toddler quickly learns which cry is manufactured drama and which is genuine sadness or pain. So when I woke up in the wee hours of the morning this morning to the sound of weeping coming from my son’s room, I could tell immediately that it was genuine distress and I quickly threw on my bathrobe and went to see what the matter was.

He was lying in bed hugging his pillow, and when I asked him what was wrong, he turned his tear-streaked face to me and said in a sad, pathetic little voice, “Mama, I have snotties in my nose.”

I managed to keep a straight face and offer to go get him a tissue (we don’t keep a tissue box in his room because he loves to pull them out of the box, one after the other after the other, until his room looks like a nor’easter just passed through). I snickered quietly as I brought a few tissues from the bathroom but composed myself before I went back to his bedroom. I expressed sympathy and helped him blow his nose. I could hear that he was quite congested, poor thing, but he fell back to sleep very quickly after we got rid of his "snotties."

He woke up this morning with his cold in full swing: runny nose, sneezing, and sounding even more congested. He was more contrary than usual in the morning, having several sobbing fits after breakfast when it was time to go to his gymnastics class but he wanted to stay and play with his trucks. When he got back from class, he was sleepy and cranky.

It occurred to me that to a small child who is rarely sick, having a cold is a very strange feeling. He has no idea that the way he feels is only temporary, and that he’ll be himself again in just a few days. He has gone through so many physical and developmental changes over the last two years (learning to eat and to walk, growing taller, getting teeth, learning letters and numbers and colors, developing gross and fine motor skills) that this seems like just another change to him – and he doesn’t like it. Hence, crankiness. I can’t blame him, though. I know that a cold won’t last forever, but I’m still cranky when I’m sick.

So right now my husband is tucking the snotty little drama llama into bed in the hopes that a long nap will help him to feel better and to put him in a better mood. At the absolute least, it'll give the rest of the family a short break from the drama.




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