Something happens to your baby when he turns one. It may be chemical, it may be hormonal, it may be possession…. But whatever it is, it has the power to change your once precious little lamb into a general from the Third Reich.
How do I know this devastation to be true? Simple. I have a one-year-old. And for 364 days he was my shining joy, my prize, my little baby love. At day 365, the sweetness melted away and it was replaced by ear-piercing screams and aggression to the fullest degree. He punches, he pinches, he kicks, jabs, slaps, bites, and claws. It’s as if my baby has taken on the soul of a wild jaguar and he’s circling his prey (ME) before finally going in for the kill.
When I go to the store, I see the stares. I see other people eyeing my bruises and noticing my scratched skin. They can’t ignore the drops of blood crusted around my previously bleeding nose nor the lump already forming on my skull where I was head-butted just minutes before. I know they wonder as they eye my husband with disdain. Little do they know that the real culprit is the angelic little cherub in the cart, chattering away and waving “bye-bye” at passersby, smiling a toothy grin and soaking up all the “Awww”s he can get. Yes. My abuser is 32” tall, has 6 teeth, and cannot walk independently.
It’s the perfect cover.
Prior to turning one, little man followed me from room to room, cooing at my feet as he investigated the floor, contents of cupboards, and whatever else happened to be within reach. His gentle exploration was always accompanied by sing-song tones and baby gurgles… the sounds that could make your ovaries ache with the sheer cuteness of it all.
And then there was his first birthday… it was the single moment, the terrifying fulcrum of change. Now, I live on pins and needles as I wrangle my little terror from room to room, him flailing and throwing himself back from my arms, me desperately trying to keep my child from requiring a cranial operation before he turns 2. If he wants up, it’s only until I pick him up and he realizes that he actually wants down. If he wants in a cupboard, it’s only to chuck its entire content across the room, followed by finger pinches in the drawer, climbing into the dishwasher, putting toy cars in the toilet, unrolling all of the toilet paper, growling at the vacuum cleaner, chewing on the computer cable, putting Cheerios down his diaper, biting the dog, pulling all things off the table via the corner of the table cloth, eating the puppy food, screaming because he’s angry, screaming because he’s tired, screaming because he’s hungry, because he’s teething, because he’s happy, or he’s itchy, or sick, or because the dog won’t play with him, or because he’s trying to make me lose my mind!
Gone are the days of watching my baby sleep peacefully in my arms. Gone are the cuddles and the precious baby coos. My child’s soothing baby chatter has taken on a harsh sound as he tries his tongue at new consonants. Now he just sounds German. Like a short, mean German baby, raising his hand to smite me down like a true tyrant. So I flinch. I flinch and I shudder when he raises his hand. I’ve learned that a finger to the eye hurts for hours, and a slap to the nose will bring me to my knees. But when I tell him “No!” in my firmest of tones, he replies with shrieks of laughter, finding my attempt at control simply hilarious.
One years old feels too young to start a disciplinary regime, but apparently my life depends on it. Desperate times call for desperate measures. But let me tell you, ladies, this little man is gooood. After he smacks me repeatedly, I put him down and give him a light tap on the hand as I muster a firm “No, no!” And then he produces the lip. That bottom portion of his mouth that causes him to look like the saddest most misunderstood baby ever to have lived. And it’s only seconds before the gut-wrenching tears stream from his horrified eyes and I’m forced to blow in his face to help him catch his breath.
How could I? Worst Mama of the Year awards flash through my mind. So, like any mother wanting to comfort her sweet little angel, I pick him up and pull him to my chest, whispering gentle shushes in his ear.
At which point he immediately stops crying and begins to giggle as he pinches my neck skin. It’s turned into some sort of twisted game and I’m forced to play because I’m the mama and the trainer of the children. It’s up to me to show him that there is a gentler way. A peaceful way. A way that doesn’t end in bloodshed (quite specifically, MINE!).
Yes. My sweet baby has turned into a German tyrant. And I love him to pieces. Here’s hoping that the Terrible Twos are a step up in the right direction.