The Purpose of a Shriek

January 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Long ago and far away, when I was what they now refer to as a “tween”, I used to love snuggling up on the couch with a bag of potato chips and my big-sister to watch the latest horror-movie. We’d watch in anticipation as the movie built up to that terror-filled point when the heroine  first encounters the requisite maniac of the movie and lets rip that shoulder-raising, eye squinting shriek.

Turns out all that build up is completely unnecessary, as demonstrated so artfully by my favourite toddler.  In my toddler’s world, a shriek is a perfectly appropriate way to make her family members (whether they are in the same room as her or elsewhere in the house) aware that she is “concerned” about something.  Sometimes it is because her brother is now playing with a toy that she had played with hours ago but is still claiming rights to, other times it is because she sees everyone else around her doing something interesting and in the absence of a fully developed skill set of her own, she contributes her well-honed ear-piercing shriek of joy (causing everyone in the room to stop what they are doing and look her. Mission accomplished).

Other times are more warranted, for example, she often uses her “stop-folding-the-laundry-and-get-me-out-of-this-freakin’-high-chair!” shriek (although I can think of less migraine-inducing alternatives to this request). One can hardly blame her for the “I-was-playing-contently-and-my-big-sister-has-chosen-to-antagonize-me” shriek (often accentuated by two clenched fists and a shudder of anger), or for her “Daddy’s-coming-home-from-work-and-I-want-to be-the first-one-he hugs” shriek.  This one is almost always quickly followed my Mom’s conveyance to Daddy that she must “tag out” for a period of time to reverse the shriek-induced headache she’s been nursing all day, and say a small prayer that this toddler phase passes quickly.

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Fourth born…

January 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

People often ask me “Is having four kids hard?” or “I don’t know how you do it with four”, to which my usual response is, “it’s way easier than two actually”.  No question, it is crazy busy, but it is easier because I know so much better how to look after a young child than I ever did with my first two. In addition, the kids help each other! When I had my second, I was plagued with guilt and anxiety about not being able to be and do everything for my first born. He would cry on my lap that he “wanted me” while I was breastfeeding my second, or ask me to play when I was busy changing a diaper or making baby food.  It was a time where I had a dreadful case of the “Just gottas”:  I just gotta change this diaper and then I can….I just gotta have a quick shower and then I can….I just gotta put your sister down for a nap and then I can…I just gotta get supper going and then I can….  You know what I mean right?  When I had my third and fourth however, Thing 1, 2, and 3 would engage each other while I enjoyed a quiet breastfeeding moment or managed to secure a hot cup of coffee (as opposed to the usual luke-warm, microwaved- three- times- cause- I- keep- forgetting- about- it coffee).

As I watch my fourth child round her 17th month, I realize that it is so much easier for her as well! She doesn’t have two inexperienced parents watching her every move and over-analyzing her every behaviour. She is free to explore more than any of her siblings, and certainly takes full advantage of that! My first born never had the opportunity to pick up last night’s brownie crumbs off the floor and enjoy them as an early morning snack.  My second born would never have had the occasion to climb up on a stool to reach her own freshly baked muffin (for the third time in 30 minutes).  Even my third born would not have been shown the “love” of three siblings all trying to give hugs to him at the same time, ultimately knocking him to the ground in a competition to see who he loves more.  Nope, my fourth born enjoys luxuries and liberties that none of her siblings (or her parents) would ever have imagined.

Life at four is great…”just gotta” love it!

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