Here’s a true thing: there is nothing better than coming to the end of a long, exhausting road trip, only to have three out of four children melt down entirely in the aftermath.
One, luckily, has an easily fixable ear infection. The other, slightly less luckily, has no-big-deal-but-must-heal-on-his-own-even-though-he-looks-gruesome-fifth’s disease.
The littlest, though, Linc Baby of Doom, a.k.a. Tank, a.k.a “GETHIMOFFMEMOMMYYYYYY!!!!”, has suffered what appears to be a permanent and freaking awful personality transplant. He has become whiny, clingy, needy, angry, screamy, and destructive, all at the same time.
Here’s another true thing: those adjectives, when combined in a still-nursing toddler, are a fatal stew of misery and despair.
Nobody in either my family or the Ogre’s thinks it’s exactly normal that I breastfeed my kids “till they go off to college” (actually it’s till they’re 2 or 3, but hyperbole is a family tradition). I don’t really care that it wigs them all out, because not caring is the sum total of my motivation for extended breastfeeding. Lactivist I am not; lazy, I am. Weaning a kid is hard, but letting them nurse occasionally till they can pour their own milk is easy. For me, that’s a no-brainer.
Which is why Tank’s horrible new personality is so particularly horrible. He wants to nurse…every.second.of.every.day.
That’s understandable, if exhausting, when the baby is a sweet little newborn who weighs practically nothing and doesn’t actually know that they can control their own hands and feet. It’s neither understandable nor tolerable when the baby is a 50 pound mini-linebacker and is well aware of the damage his hands and feet can do when, say, swung at his mother’s face and stomach without warning.
Even worse is the fact that while he can clearly vocalize what he wants, he refuses to acknowledge who provides it. He has never called me anything but Dada, and appears to neither understand nor care that I am not just a pale, yet milk-producing, imitation of actual Dada. Dada is the sun in Tank’s sky; I am the squishy milk carton/pillow/punching bag he runs to while shouting “Dada, nurse!” Can I just tell you how uncomfortable it when he does that in public? Not that we’ve left my parents house much, but on those few occasions, the looks I got were enough to make me fondly remember that time in Mass when Charlotte pulled my dress up and flashed my underoos to a bunch of high-schoolers.
Because I am not content to be a living milk dispenser, I have responded to his newfound infantile imperiousness by refusing to nurse except before bed and naps. At least, that’s always my intention.
Lincoln has not passively accepted this turn of events. Instead, he screams and grabs onto my hands or shirt while flopping dramatically to the floor. If he doesn’t have a good grip, he usually falls and bangs his head, which prompts real screams, which I of course respond to by scooping him up. Then he nestles against me, head on my shoulder, faking me out until I begin to do something with my free arm.
At which point he immediately plunges his arm down the front of my shirt and bra and tries to forcibly remove my breast from my body. Alternately, he dives head-first down the front of my shirt, causing me to drop (and often break) whatever is in my other hand so that I can, you know, save his life. This kid weighs at least 70 pounds, remember. It’s not like I can do a quick little hip-shift to keep him from plummeting to his death.
After I’ve either yanked his hand out of my shirt or caught his head centimeters from the tile floor, I set him down sternly, look into his face, and say, “no, Linky. No no.”
He then covers his face with his hands, bursts into tears, peeks at me through his chubby fingers and says, “Dada, nurse!!!!!”
And the whole thing begins again, or it would, if I didn’t, at that point, give up and nurse him.
Yeah, I know this is a self-perpetuating cycle and I am only furthering it by acquiescing to the irrational demands of a violent and destructive tiny tyrant. I’m pretty sure I’m just going to keep acquiescing, though. Part of me is so embarrassed by how uncomfortable this performance makes anyone else who might be in the same room that I feel a burning desire to end it as quickly as possible. Part of me is just holding out hope that in the next few weeks this child will disappear and my sweet, happy, ever-so-slightly-less-destructive Linky will come back. Part of me has no clue at which point to break the cycle (first head-bashing, or second? Before he demands that Dada nurse him, or after?). Part of me is just lazy, tired, and all out of caring.
Part of me, though, is secretly hoping that this child is a changeling, and if I just keep letting him suck the life out of me for a teensy bit longer, Sam and Dean will show up and bring back my real kid while being gorgeous.
Hey, Dada can dream, right?