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2 A.M. Tantrums

Jonas has a problem.

He would disagree with that statement, actually.  He would shake his head and use his new favorite word, a short, crisp, direct, “No.”

Let me rephrase: I have a problem.

It’s his 2 A.M. Tantrum.

Jonas wakes up screaming at the top of his lungs, at the bottom of his lungs, from the right and the left and the inside out.  In the middle of the night, he yanks us out of our dreams with his shrieks and cries, and then can’t seem to go back to sleep.

Look at this sleeping angel.  During our short weekend skiing trip, Jos fell asleep in his grandmother’s arms, surrounded by the chaos of a Saturday afternoon on the mountain. He’d had a busy morning, marching through snow, watching his brother ski, riding the gondola, losing mittens, eating french fries, falling in love with grooming machines, blowing kisses at snow bunnies.

I imagine that all of the people who passed by him and gave it much thought assumed that he’s a “good” sleeper.  Well, he’s a sometimes sleeper, and he certainly didn’t sleep so well the night before his snooze in winter wonderland.  He falls asleep at home with little trouble, fights sleeping in strange places, and rages in the middle of the night, no matter the location, a few seemingly random times a week.  Sometimes it’s a few nights in a row, other times it’s one night and then not again for five days, but the tantrums keep coming.  The short lived ones that last five minutes or so seem to be nightmares, with his eyes staying closed, that don’t even wake him up.  But the long ones, the ones where he’s clearly awake, are rough on us all.  It’s heartbreaking, and, well, kicks from his footy pajama-covered feet can still leave bruises.

It’s a full-out fit, complete with screaming, thrashing, kicking, crying for things and then throwing them to the floor.  For a boy who’s happy and cheerful and grins most of the day, who sleeps peacefully most of the night and goes into his bed willingly (unless it’s not his own bed), the nighttime fit is a little worrisome.

It’s not clear what’s offended him to the core, what’s made him so damn pissed off.  He doesn’t seem to be sick, his diaper’s dry, and everything we try makes him angry.  Being held makes him mad, being in his bed makes him mad, his stuffed dog (the love of his life) makes him mad, not having the stuffed dog makes him mad, water makes him mad, singing makes him very, very, very mad.

This past Friday night, during Jos’ most recent nighttime tantrum, we were up in the mountains, and, since I was still fighting off a cold and fever, my fabulous husband wrestled with screaming Jos for forty minutes.  Eventually, Jonas tired himself out and gave in to sleep, then snoozed right through to 6:30.  Like the other extended nighttime tantrums, Sean had no idea what made Jonas give up, other than exhaustion.

Now, everyone needs to just blow off a little steam from time to time.  The world can be a frustrating place when you’re just sixteen months old and can’t quite manage to get a piece of chicken on your fork, or trip over your own shoes, or have to deal with your older brother yet again sprinting off with the train you wanted to push along the tracks.  Jonas has reasons to be angry, and I’m all for a little healthy expression of frustration.

I just wish it didn’t happen in the middle of the night, and, of course, Jonas isn’t reasonable at 2 am.  He won’t agree to wait to talk about it in the morning.

Between this, and Axel’s new habit of coming in to our bed at 5 am, then kicking me in the stomach and elbowing my ear for an hour or so before I finally get up, we’re a bit worn out around here.

Does anyone else have a sweet toddler that turns into a nighttime banshee? Any solutions, other than ear plugs?

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