20 August 2007

The Anatomy of a Scream

Lately, Little Man has been having some issues controlling his emotions. By controlling his emotions, of course, I mean that he's been throwing a lot of tantrums the last few days. With all of the spontaneous flailing, kicking, and screaming, the kid puts on a pretty good floor show.

As a parent, a tired over-worked parent, these little emotion-laden meltdowns can be exhausting and trying. Right now, our goal is to not provide him any incentive to continue screaming. We let him flop safely to the floor and then once we know he's sage, we leave the room. Inevitably, a few seconds later, he will crawl his way screaming pathetically after us, and once arriving settle down enough to say "up." It's been a trying weekend to say the least.

When Little Man was a much smaller little man, his newborn wails used to pierce me straight to the heart. Sometimes, when I was alone with him and he was completely inconsolable, I would lay him safely on the floor or in his crib, step out into our attached garage, and scream as loudly as I could.

It made me start wondering when it was that we humans learn not to express our emotions. After all, a newborn's cries are not manipulative or conscious, despite what some people think. You cannot spoil a baby that small, because they don't even begin to have the capabilities to think logically about cause and effect yet. His little body or mind sensed a need and his mouth did not hesitate, did not waver in letting that need be known. As watchful parents doing the best we could, we rushed to sooth those little screams.

As an adult I was bound to hold my screams in...or at least indulge only when it got to be "too much" and only alone, in the privacy of a darkened garage. That is what adults do--we repress those primal urges that make us uncivilized. We "use our words."

I realize now when it is that humans learn not to express emotion--right about at 16 months. Every time we set him down and walk out of the room, we trying to teach him that his urge to react so viscerally to his anger, disappointment, or frustration is invalid.

"Use your words," I say. Suppress your urges. Be polite. Be civilized. Be human.

Don't get me wrong--I don't want my child to go around screaming all of the time. I was raised in a family where yelling was the norm, and it's not a form of discipline or a lifestyle I want to replicate. But I remember how cathartic it was to step into the garage and just yell, and part of me wonders why we humans suppress that so much. Primal scream therapy aside, maybe it would be better for everyone if we were allowed some moments of intense release.

I'm going to have to keep telling myself that, because this is looking like it might be a long phase. And we're not even to the "terrible twos" yet.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes you just need to scream. I have always had trouble with supressing my emotions and "staying cool". I am always quick to jump to an emotional state of mind. I guess it is just the way my brain works, it makes me who I am. I have had to learn patcience with my children, especially when they are screaming and inconsolable. It is difficult for me to stifle my emotions and remain rational. However I embrace each emotional state of mind that I have. In my opinion it is a sign of passion, and I feel that every ounce of life must be lived with passion if it is to be a life of note. Be Free, Be Human, and live with a passion that can not be seconded, because we only get one chance to live and need not live with regret.

-The Yellow Dart-

LD said...

well said

The Yellow Dart said...

Why Thank You