Axel still gets mad when he’s tired, and even more mad when someone tries to help him address the problem of exhaustion by encouraging him to sleep. He screams and cries and then, a few minutes later, a switch gets flipped and he’s suddenly silent and asleep. There’s no winding down – it’s yell yell yell yell yell yell yell zzzzzzzz.
The other night, Sean was reading the great classic The Grouchy Ladybug to Axel. Axel likes to speed-read, so there’s just enough time to repeat, “Wanna fight?” or identify the sparrow on the page before moving on to the next page. Once the ladybugs were happily eating aphids together, Sean offered Axel a bottle. Axel drank a little and sweetly, angellically, nuzzled into his father’s chest. Then he decided he wanted a little more milk and did his adorable open bird-mouth request for a nipple. Sean offered him the bottle.
Axel (perhaps in homage to the grouchy ladybug) screamed at the bottle and pushed it away as violently as you can push something when you weigh less than a case of beer. This is the normal reaction to something that you’ve asked for – screaming and pushing. I like to do that after I order in restaurants – “Salmon? You think I ordered the salmon? Well you can take that perfectly cooked salmon and stuff it! And don’t even think of offering me that molten chocolate cake for dessert!”
So, Sean put Axel down in his crib for a few minutes, because Axel had made it very clear that he didn’t want anything that his parents could provide. Axel wailed. After a few minutes, Axel hadn’t fallen asleep, so Sean went back in and found that Axel had, in his rage, taken off his pants. There he was, sitting up in his crib on top of his grandma-made sock monkey quilt, pantsless. After reporting to me that our son got so angry he took off his drawers, and trying to stifle his laughter, Sean went in and re-dressed Axel, offered him a little more milk, and Axel went off to dreamland.
In addition to angry pants and sock removal (maybe because his legs and feet get hot when he’s mad? or because his pants are a symbol of the man holding him down and requiring that he wear clothes? Perhaps it’s early rebellion against the dress code he’ll encounter in middle school?), Axel has two other ways of showing his anger: an angry dinosaur shriek triggered when he can’t have something sharp and pointy and likely to strangle him, and exertion farts. When he’s particularly mad, he flings back his body, screams, and lets out some loud gas. This makes it hard to take his anger seriously. He’s so mad that he toots. I know I shouldn’t laugh, but it’s hard to keep a straight face at a pantsless, farting kid who lets out high-pitched velociraptor sounds audible to dogs a few states over, all because I won’t let him wrap a jump rope around his neck.
(Picture taken just before a scream at the horror of having to go out to breakfast.)
So, how about you? What funny things do your children do when angry?