Fatherhood Adventures

Some cries just need to be ignored.

That seems strange to say and may seen overly hard-nosed to some, but its true. The fact is not every cry deserves attention. In the case of my 18-month-old toddler, I would say more often than not simply disregarding the cry improves the situation quicker than making a fuss over it.

Beckett, presumably like most kids, has been known to be quite dramatic at times, whether it’s through a minor tantrum, major meltdown or an attention-seeking whimper, particularly when he does not get his way.

It’s worth pointing out here that he usually does get his way, but there are times when he can get a little hot under the collar at me if I am cramp his style. On the rare occasions this happens, it seems the best way he knows how to express himself is through a good old-fashioned, angry cry, which is quite different and easy to decipher from those of the pain variety.

Here’s a look at some recent anger cries that come to mind:

— The boy loves a bath, and it remains one of the highlights of my day. However, 15 to 20 minutes is usually the maximum amount for bath time. It never ceases to amaze me that every night he cries as I pull him out of the tub and dry him off. I don’t take it personally. I honestly think Beckett would pitch a fit even if we spent an hour in the tub. He is just infatuated with it, especially relishing putting his hand under the running faucet and splashing himself and everything around him. He also loves breaking out his “running man” impression in the tub, which scares the daylights out of me.

— The love affair with the banana continues around our house as well. It’s usually the first word out of his mouth in the morning. The other day he did warm my heart when he said, “dada nana” instead, but usually it’s just a string of nanas ringing through the house in the morning. My wife reminded me early on to keep his banana intake to a half because they have been known to cause some backups on the business side. The one time I did not take her advice there was a long dry spell. Of course, Beckett does not understand that his banana consumption needs to be regulated and therefore screams his head off when it’s all gone.

I can usually calm him down with a sippie cup of milk or juice. That is, until he pounds that, throws the cup down on the floor and goes about his other business. I find this bruiser attitude hilarious I must admit.

— Beckett’s fondness for the kitchen has been known to cause some stress for whoever is trying to cook because he can now reach objects on the countertop. For months, my wife has been telling me to be particularly aware of him because he can now pull pots and pans from the stove. If either is hot, that could be a serious thing, of course. I experienced this first thing the other day, but I am happy to report all ended well. Fortunately, I caught him in the act and a crisis was averted. While making him dinner, I looked over in the kitchen to find my little guy, standing on his toes with his hand on the top of a cutting board. I was able to get there in time before he yanked or slapped everything on to the floor. Nothing on it would have hurt him, but it would have been a fine mess. The fact he could not get what he wanted agitated him to the point he plopped down on his bottom and threw a tantrum. The Diego theme song cut it short, sending him running excitedly for the living room.

— While in the kitchen, a cool game he has developed involves the refrigerator. Whenever the fridge door is opened, he races over and likes to sit on the edge and remove all the items on from the shelves. I find this to be harmless, except when he puts his mouth over the Sriracha hot sauce lid. He could go about taking items off the shelves and putting them back for hours it seems, but after a few minutes the wasted energy of an appliance door open makes me feel guilty. He clearly does not care about that at this point as a short meltdown always follows when the door is closed.

— Another example of the angry cries unfolds whenever it comes to changing his diaper. This is not something he enjoys at all, and I think it all boils down to patience. He despises not being able to do what he wants and being manhandled during a diaper change qualifies as something he would prefer not to do. Obviously, this is a must so the cries are largely ignored, resulting in a competitive wrestling match. The main problem here is he’s getting stronger and more elusive and can sometimes wiggle free. That can have messy consequences for all involved.

Sometimes I think he just cries for no reason. Other times when he should work himself into a nice lather he does not. This was epitomized when he received an immunization at the pediatrician’s office the other day. He cried for a second until I let him down and we never heard anything from him again on that. That was strange. A cry would have been deserved in this case.

All in all, there are times you just have to let a kid cry it out. Many books have been published on this, dealing mostly with the sleeping aspect. It seems to me it also applies to many aspects of daily life.

As to be expected, that’s not the conclusion my son comes to when I often ask him, "Why are you crying Beckett?" For some reason, whenever I ask him that, his face turns red and he cries even more. Fortunately, two seconds later, something grabs his attention and he’s quickly giggling, although the remnants of tears are still present. I love that short-term memory thing.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.