We were at a restaurant meeting my cousin’s new boyfriend, itself a rather fraught exercise for an introvert like me (where my social phobics at?! put your hands up! of course, do so while alone, at home). He was fine for the first 40 minutes. Then, just as our dinner arrived, he went from chilling out to inconsolably screaming faster than a Justin Bieber fan at … well, anywhere, really.
I sensed the escalation and took him outside before he really got going. Then we walked around the outside of the restaurant for 10 minutes. If I stopped, sat down, or attempted to give a bottle, he’d turn himself up to 11. In our house we call this, “Dragon Mode.” Eventually, through the use of cunning well beyond my years, I did all three at once during a period of relative calm and sort of kickstarted the sucking reflex (The Sucking Reflex is my new band). After this he cycled down, drank his dinner and then stared at me, as if to say, “What? Well, shit, I don’t know. I’m fine. Must be some other kid you’re thinking of.” Insufferable.
This episode presaged the last few days, which have been wakeful, fussy and pissed off, in general. Being unable to convince your son that he’s ACTUALLY TOTALLY OK AND WELL CARED FOR is really frustrating. Our communication is stunted like a hipster’s emotional growth. Interestingly, even when I’m blowing my stack because my-dinner’s-inside-and-it’s-expensive-and-warm-now-and-I-can’t-eat-it-because-of-you-and-why-don’t-you-see-that-if-you-just-drank-this-bottle-it’d-be-fine-DRINK-THE-CONTENTS-OF-THE-BOTTLE, even then I’m not mad at him. I’m mad at our inability to understand each other.
So there’s nothing for it, then, except to care for him as we do; in all the ways he can’t yet realize he needs.