Thursday, March 11, 2010

Personality and Grabby Hands

The eighth month is one of personality growth and limit-testing for Cayden. He is suddenly squirmy and grabby and insistent to achieve his will.

Unfortunately, his will is often pulling Mama's hair (hard) and grabbing at scissors, ceramic dishes, new glasses, plastic bags, the cat's tail, paper, picture frames and anything else specifically NOT intended for baby manipulation. And then there's the face grabbing: he grabs onto a nose, cheek or set of lips and squeezes, with all his might, digging his claw-like little fingernails into sensitive flesh as hard as he can. All while grinning his open-mouthed, two-toothed grin.

And the squirming. Usually associated with the grabby-hands. Adorable, yet sometimes annoying at the same time. You try to secure a 22 pound kid into a sling on the hip while he's squirming all over the place, repeatedly bucking his butt out; one hand firmly wound into half-your-head of hair, yanking with strength you didn't know he possessed; and the other hand of little fingers outstretched and wiggling, reaching as hard as he can to grab for the shiny new glasses propped atop your head. All in the parking lot of the liquor store. Yes, we had an audience of smirking passersby to witness our power struggle.

But eventually Mama won and replenished her it's-been-too-long stash of chardonnay. And vodka and malbec and merlot.

Oh, and on the hair and tail pulling: we've decided to try to avoid frequent use of the word NO, so that Chicken doesn't become immune to overuse of the warning. We're trying to reserve NO for dangerous situations, not necessarily disciplinary ones. Think hot stove versus gimme what I want. So instead of NO, we're using OUCH a lot lately. As in, "Mama OUCH", in a stern and slightly amplified voice, when the hair pulling starts. Same thing for the cats: "Spike OUCH" when he grabs the tail or swats at him. And for Daddy: "Daddy OUCH" when Daddy finds his lips suddenly twisted and stretched away from his teeth.

So far our stern OUCHes are met more with giggles than the behavior-changing reaction we're looking for. But good lessons take time, so we're remaining patient through the sudden and jarring pains.

Spike, on the otherhand, has no interest in extending patience and understanding to the baby. A few more strong tail pulls or whisker swats and this kid may be introduced to a whole new, decidedly more painful lesson in cause and effect: you piss off the cat, the cat lets you have it.

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