Monday, December 13, 2010

Toddler Theatrics

And the Award for Best Actress
in a Dramatic Role goes to....
My three year old has decided that life is her stage and she is determined to throw herself into the ultimate performance of her young life. Watching her, I'd have to say that she really does have potential to be her generation's best dramatic actress! She immerses herself so totally in her role that she IS the role! Her method of portrayal, her characterization, is so complete that she convinces her audience and herself of the reality and depth of the performance. All in all a powerful, moving and disturbing thing to watch.

For the first time in her life, our Oona has been afflicted with a mouth sore or singaw as we call it. And her 10 decibel pain, is my pain, is everybody's pain within a 3 mile radius.

She is The Pain.

We've all moved, as a family and as individuals, from various degrees of involvement and varying emotional reactions.

First, pity for the child who's never experienced the stinging pain of a mouth sore and its medications. Then, distress as she starts crying when it becomes unbearable for her to suffer in whimpering silence. Next, stress levels escalate in worry as nothing seems to soothe her anguish and a quick remedy isn't quick enough. Nerves begin to fray when one realizes that the child is playing it to the hilt. True it hurts but not enough to warrant full waterworks and each sentence to be punctuated by an empathic 'Owww!'. Extreme annoyance hits at this point when one realizes one has been had and the actress in question continues to ham it up for the audience that matters: Daddy (who gives in to demands to be carried around like a baby) and Grandpa (who hovers in worry, growling that his granddaughter is suffering and something MUST be done!).

Mommy and Grandma roll eyes and facepalms.

Normally when she does her whining and theater exercises, I run the gamut of talking to her through it, scolding, or ignoring it until she stops. On bad days when I'm running short on temper and she can't seem to stop, I get mad, we have a scream-fest and I ultimately send her to the corner. She usually stops, says she's sorry and says she's tired that's why she's starting to act up. We talk, make up and have quiet time or sleep.

This time, with the mouth sore, of course it's different.
Mouth sores are caused by bacteria and can happen to anyone. Oona bit her inner lip by accident and the little nip got infected. Falling asleep with her milk bottle still in her mouth and forgetting to brush her teeth did the rest. Yes, I do feel guilty for not being extra vigilant. Just this one time when I thought I could relax a little, the sore happens and we pay for it!

At first I made her gargle Bactidol, Listerine, and a salt and water solution. It was ok but then she seemed to get worse so we went to my dentist Aunt Grace who gave her an oral care gel. It seemed to work until night hit and her lip seemed to be swollen. By midnight, she couldn't fall asleep anymore as her mouth dried and as she yawned in sleep, the sore stretched and she kept waking up in pain. She even woke up Olly with her crying and as they both started crying, I wanted to cry too. It had been going on ALL DAY, the crying, whining, owww-ing...I was getting so irritated, I knew I'd reached my absolute limit. Poor RF woke up, dazed and tired because the little girls were crying and I was yelling for Oona to stop ("It's going to hurt you more!") but Oona was too far gone: really sleepy, tired, in pain, frustrated and unable to stop herself.

I wanted to go out in the middle of the night to try and find the new-fangled instant remedy that I saw at the drugstore earlier. I would have bought one right then just to give Oona some relief and us some peace, but it was out of stock. RF and I were looking at each other, my extreme annoyance breaking into exasperation and inexplicably, I felt a stupid smile on my face. The things they don't tell you about parenthood! Haha.

Desperate times. We decided for desperate measures.

I was hoping not to have to resort to the all-time favorite, old-skool remedy of putting ground tawas (alum) on the sore or gargling with it in salt and water. Hurts like h*ll but the sore would be banished in an instant. I was afraid it might further traumatize her, but in this case, prolonging the pain was probably worse. Plus, she woke up the whole household, growling Grandpa included ("Tell your Aunt to give her the strong medicine! It'll hurt once and then she'll be fine! Tawas doesn't work!").

Aunt Gly was thoughtful enough to give us a mixture already prepared with kalamansi. She squeezed kalamansi juice over ground alum and when it dried, it looked like golden brown sugar crystals. Oona was screaming, her theatrics turning into hysterics when I asked her to open her mouth for the medicine. I told her it was going to hurt but it would utlimately make her feel better.

Just a pinch but it *did* hurt like hell. And if she could swear, Oona would have put a sailor to shame and I would have grounded her for life for being a potty mouth. But all she bravely did was keep her mouth open like I asked her to while I put on the tawas, RF holding her while she cried and cried and cried :(

After a few moments, we had her gargle with water to wash out the alum. And almost instantly, the pain began to fade as her lip went numb. In a few minutes, she was quiet and when I asked her if she felt better, she was already able to reply (whimperingly) yes.


It took two more applications before the sore was gone completely. She still cried and groused about having to put medicine that she knew would hurt, but she was very brave and trusting enough to let me put it on her.

Writing this down now, I feel like I want to cry. It sometimes sucks to be the one to dole out the tough love. Deep down, even while she thrashed, yelled and cried, Oona trusted my word that what I would do would heal her even if it hurt her badly. Her faith in me makes me feel so small and humble. I'm sorry that it hurt or that she had to have that sore in the first place, but I'm sorrier I have to hurt her first to make her feel better.

Now she knows better than to go to bed with a bottle and without brushing. She drinks more water, especially after eating and drinking milk or juice. She says it's so her teeth will be happy and her mouth won't have germs anymore.

We now have some peace, of course and she's her sweet but spicy little self again as opposed to Olly's totally sweet nature. Her theatrics have gone back down to almost nil or only when she hasn't had her afternoon naps. What hasn't changed though, I've noticed, is that the theatrics come on when Daddy's around or Grandpa's eligible to be dragged outside to play.

Whenever that happens, I leave the menfolk to her "tender" mercies and I tune out to save my sanity! After all, that doesn't require tawas and Mommy's tough love to deal with.


Anonymous said...

Reading this feels like I was there when this mouth sore happened! We have a lot in common actually, I also have 2 girls. The eldest still drinks from her bottle and the baby still breastfeeds from me when I'm around. :) Our 2 girls more or less resembles each other in personality too! Will be visiting your site often!