The Newborn Diaries: Cry Baby

27/07/2011 11:16 | Updated 22 May 2015
The Newborn Diaries: Cry babyD's rendition of the final scene in (insert Greek tragedy title here)...

The other day my husband said to me (and this is more or less verbatim): "So, do you think Diana's just been pretending to be normal for the past 11 months and now she can no longer hide that she has your genes and is actually completely crazy?"

Yes, this is offensive, but more worryingly, I think he has a point. I'll admit I can be moody at the best of times; sobbing for no reason, deranged, and/or vicious at the worst. As for baby D, there's no denying she's become a serious cry baby of late. Some may even call her a "drama queen," an expression I hate with a passion, namely because I have so frequently been called the same, mostly by all of my in-laws.

I'm pretty sure they don't mean it as a compliment.

D's emotional breakdowns started recently in baby sign class, as predicted by her teacher. Now, when the stuffed cat is passed around and taken away from Diana, she convulsively sobs, screams and flings herself up and down in frustration. For approximately 10 seconds.

When she's then handed a new toy - a musical instrument, or in her case, three - she's happy again, until it's time to put the toys away. Then she'll try to take a couple more toys out of the box, get told off and have a sobbing fit that can rival the final act of Phaedra.

Then she'll crawl around the room following the box of instruments, in hysterics, with tears dripping down her face. Even I have to admit that's a bit of an over-reaction.

These temper tantrums now happen every single time baby D gets something taken away from her, is removed from a potentially dangerous situation and - this is obviously my favourite - every time I (try to) leave the room. Sometimes when I cross the room to get something out of a cupboard and Diana thinks I may flee, the breakdown will happen just in case.
It's also gotten to the point where if a grandparent, her father or a particular nursery worker or uncle leaves the room, baby D will burst into hysterics. I'm no therapist, but I guess the layman's term for this is clingy, and much as I adore my daughter, it's not a good look (nor a particularly effective lure when trying to find a babysitter).

As you can probably imagine, this new aspect of baby D's developing personality has its drawbacks. Not only is it upsetting to see Diana so distressed, that her instinct is to immediately go to the really bad place is not a good sign for the future. This kid doesn't whimper or pout; she goes from happily smiling one moment straight to hair-pulling and self-flagellation the next.

Even though these scenes only last for mere moments, D's genetics suggest that this may be more than just a "phase." I grew up with a paranoid and hysterical (albeit completely wonderful and loving) mother, in New York City, so I am understandably neurotic and excitable as a result of both nature and nurture. In an attempt to fight biology, instead of pandering to D when she gets into these moods, I try to sympathise, then laugh lightly and tell her everything will be OK (and, usually, hand her a soothing distraction).

Unfortunately, my fragile emotional state means that I'm probably the worst person at keeping my cool in times of crisis. I want to bang things and cry! I want to scream and yell at people and pound my fists on the ground! I definitely don't want to be the problem-solver when my instinct is to be the problem-starter.

Lest you think I'm the only unhinged psycho who passed over-emotional DNA to baby D, let me dispel that myth. My husband likes to think of himself as "fiery." If that means he spazzes out for no reason whatsoever a lot of the time and could probably do with an anger management course, then he is indeed on fire.

What I'm saying is, with our emotionally flawed gene pool, we may have serious trouble on our hands. And it's been hiding under the false guise of chubby thigh rolls and angelic jowls.

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