Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Tantrum From Hell Explained

I have a theory about childhood development.  I only have my two children as evidence but from what I have observed with the two of them, whenever they are about to make a major developmental leap, they are impossible.  With Liam the problems always manifested themselves in his sleep and the poor sleep resulted in difficult behavior.  This was true from the time he was an infant and it's still true today.  His last serious sleep regression coincided with learning to read.

Jamie hasn't been as extreme as his brother, in large part because he is a better sleeper over all.  But he still has his moments and his sleep regressions (and consequent poor behavior) have also centered on major developmental milestones.  It doesn't seem nearly as dire as it did with Liam and I can't tell if that's because of Jamie or because he's our second kid and we're less uptight.

Whatever the case, the general pattern is that if there is any rewiring in their brains going on, I'm guaranteed to have a rough time with them behavior-wise.

Guess who made a leap?

Jamie made another jump with the language today.  His therapist and I suspected it was on the horizon because in his last therapy session things were coming easier to him and he was speaking more clearly.  He seemed to be able to repeat words more quickly and more clearly than he had been doing previously. This wasn't a major improvement but it was a noticeable one.

Before his tantrum yesterday Jamie was tetchy all day.  He was frustrated and difficult and his speech was complete gobbledegook when he chose to speak at all.  I spent most of the day trying to translate what he wanted and failing utterly.  It was like his speech had suddenly regressed. Then he had a thermonuclear meltdown at bedtime.

This morning he suddenly started talking in phrases spontaneously.  It's happened a few times before but his usual pattern is that he can repeat what we say but rarely, if ever, does he apply what he knows how to say to anything else.  He started doing that today out of the blue.

The first time he did it, I was putting my shoes on so I could take the kids to the playground and Jamie saw me doing it.  He said "Shoe? Me?"  Shoe is a brand new word.  He said both words quite clearly - probably the clearest I've ever heard him speak.  Of course I told him that yes, he was going to have to put his shoes on, too.

Then, while at the playground, he was sliding down the big slide with his brother.  He got upset at one point and Liam tried to get him to go back up and slide down again with him.  Jamie replied, "No!  Mama do!"  Again, very clearly said.  Again, an entirely new phrase.

Later, Liam asked if he wanted to slide again and Jamie said, "No.  All done."  The kid is having conversations now.  REAL conversations.

Last, I was putting him down for his nap and he had his snuggle blankie over his head.  I pulled it off so we could rock together and he popped out with "PEEK-BOO!"  Now, he's known how to say peek-a-boo for quite some time but it was always said in reply to us when we were playing with him.  This time he plucked it from his vocabulary and used it correctly all on his own.

So there you have it.  His impression of Linda Blair was the precursor to him making a huge leap in his language abilities.  He has truly outdone his brother on this one.


  1. oooo... that's interesting! My memory's not all that detailed unfortunately, but I look forward to applying this theory in the future. On a side note, isn't it SO EXCITING when they make a big leap like that??? Dono can't manage phrases yet (Go Jamie Go!) but he really started talking overnight. He could say a few words, but suddenly one morning he could actually COMMUNICATE, you know? Not just repeat syllables like a parrot. It was surreal. I couldn't have been more surprised if the dog suddenly spoke to me.

  2. What wonderful progress! I've noted that Gideon acts horribly for two days and then makes a huge leap. And he's only one!