Interestingly enough, most parents learn to tune out their own child's particular brand of whining. It's a defense mechanism, I suppose. If we weren't able to ignore it, there would, unfortunately, be more incidents of infanticide. Cruel? Absolutely. True? You betcha'.
In fact, there was event a recent study done that whining is, in fact, the worst sound known to mankind. Thankfully, it is at those moments when you also get to see parents at their absolute best. The creativity can be astounding. For the most part, though, they'll cajole, convince and yes, even bribe.
So what can you do with a 16mo old who barely understands what you're trying to tell him? Well, you start with toys. It's ugly, but bribery is first on the list. Core to this is the belief that the child's frustration is centered on the desire for something they don't currently have. So you think it's a toy and you'll give them ANYTHING if they'd just stop screaming.
Driving down the highway with Cameron in his carseat today was no different. He started to fuss and without taking both hands off the wheel (and without looking at him, either - a learned skill I never really thought I would need), I reached back, grabbed one of several "car toys" and placed it in his lap. You could hear it a few seconds later, bouncing off the back of the seat in front of him.
Nope... that wasn't the toy he wanted.
No problem - I'm prepared. I have more.
Crap. Not that one either.
OK. Maybe I can tickle him to take his mind off whatever's got him frustrated. Still driving one-handed... still always looking at the road, I reach back and start with his feet. Tickling up his leg and onto his chest, I'm not getting any love in return. In fact, the screaming is getting worse.
Tina finally decides that maybe he just needs to be entertained (Yeah, remember Tina? She was sitting in the front passenger seat the whole time. Would've been nice if she'd helped the driver. But whatever. She was helping now.). Her idea? A napkin.
Somewhere, in the distance, I heard a 1950's comedic rim-shot. A napkin. Pshaw.
Do you know how many problems there are with giving a little boy a napkin? The first place it's going to go is into his mouth. Then we've got wet napkin. Wet napkin in the car, on his carseat, in his mouth. Which leads to wet napkin in his hair, under his fingernails (yes, they have them), probably in his nose, too... in short, everywhere. Tina realized this after a few seconds, too, and decided that perhaps she should use the napkin to entertain Cameron.
Her plan? Napkin Ghost Puppet.
|Napkin Ghost Puppet|
Holy crap. It worked. I want to make fun of it, but I can't because it solved the problem. You don't even need me to tell you it was successful - you can simply see it in Cameron's face.
Flash forward a few hours later and we were back in the car. As it was close to dinner time and Cam again started the slow burn to complete meltdown. Given the time of day, we know this could get really ugly. So, we went straight for the jugular. We pulled out the baby crack and fed it to Cam like candy. Of course, I'm talking about the little red monster himself: Elmo.
I don't know what it is about the voice, but Cam could be (and has been) in full temper tantrum mode and Elmo's "la-la la-la" is the same as whipping out a Snausage in front of a golden retriever.
And apparently parents everywhere know the Power of Elmo (PoE). From a recent episode of Cougar Town:
You just can't argue with the PoE.
Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of Elmo on my iPhone. It's my one iDevice I didn't have the full range of Elmo already installed and we really needed it. Do you know what happens when you give a baby crack addict a taste of the good stuff and then don't have any more? Yeah, it's not pretty. Luckily we were close to home and got him fed and in bed just in the nick of time.
So I'm off to go load the rest of our Elmo collection onto my iPhone. In the meantime, if you have other baby crack items that you're willing to share, we're willing to try them out. Put them in the comments to share.