Posted by: Hannah | 04/16/2012

cold comfort

My youngest dayhome kid is Luna. She’s 17 months old and freakishly cute. She looks like an anime character, all huge eyes and tip-toe walking. She calls me ‘mommy’ despite my best efforts to teach her my name, and no longer cries at dropoff, but is instead all smiles and hellos for everyone.

It’s a bit of a facade, though.

If her equanimity is wobbled, even slightly, she throws a tantrum. And when sister throws one, it STAYS thrown.

She is also – in her mother’s true words – a giant wuss when it comes to personal injury. She simply has no ability to walk it off. Every bruise is a major contusion with massive internal bleeding. Every bump is a compound fracture. And kissing the spot DOES NOT WORK. She is the only toddler I’ve ever met who does not believe implicitly in the magic power of boo-boo kissing. I praise her critical thinking and empirical analysis skills (“you kissed, it still hurts. KISSES DO NOTHING!”) but at the same time I wish she was just a little more credulous. It would make things easier.

And finally, Luna has no comfort object. No blankie, no stuffie, no thumb, no lovey. Nothing makes her feel as comforted and safe as her mom’s boobs. She breastfeeds almost exclusively, not only for solace but for 90% of her caloric intake as well. This only bears mentioning because it is becoming a problem.

She is dropped off at 9am, having had breakfast around 7am or so. At 10am we have snack. All the kids are given the same thing, provided by me, and it’s generally fruit and either whole grain or a protein. Because hungry children are cranky whiny unmanageable children! And I don’t like those children!

She will never eat the snack. Ever. It doesn’t matter what it is. I offer her food. She nods enthusiastically. I place one or two pieces on her tray. She shakes her head. I encourage her to take a bite. She either tosses it on the floor, pushes it away, or (and this one is my favourite) tucks a bunch in her cheek until she gags and spits everything back out again.

Snacktime ends with her having eaten exactly nothing. We do a craft maybe, or build with blocks, whatever. Around about 11am, she starts to get cranky, because now she’s a) tired and b) starving. The hour between 11 and noon is the witching hour, because it takes very little to set her off. Today, she bumped her knee. (She bumped it on a teddy bear, for the record). I kissed it, she rejected my pitiful attempt at doctoring, she pointed firmly at my chest and wailed “boo! boo! BOOOOOO!!!!!” I gently refused to nurse her and HOLY SWEET MOTHER OF GOD, that sweet little darling immediately lost. her. fucking. mind.

She cried. She wailed. She begged me to nurse her. She asked for mommy. For daddy. For something garbled I couldn’t understand. She refused water. She refused milk in a cup. She wouldn’t be cuddled, consoled, distracted, or ignored.

She could not calm herself down, because her comfort object is her mother’s breast. Which is very lovely, and all, but super-impractical since those breasts are attached to her mother, and I am not sharing mine.

This child screamed for one hour and ten minutes by the clock. All this, while I had a feverish Baby G sleeping in the Moby wrap and the older kids wanted story time.

She finally stopped, just in time for lunch. She ate two Shreddies (I counted) and half of one cucumber slice. She spit out a mouthful of shredded cheese while making over-the-top gagging sounds. She tossed the sippy cup of milk on the floor and asked for boob instead.

Mercifully, her mother is always very prompt for pick up, so shortly after Luna ate not one bloody thing her mom arrived. And that little stinker had by then calmed down, was smiling and happy, waved bye bye with a huge grin, and basically did everything she could to look like she hadn’t made life miserable for the rest of us.

I’m sure I’ll get some flack for this but I cannot wait until this child is weaned.



  1. Wow. No, I think you can be forgiven. At almost a year and a half, breastfeeding is fine, but if she’s not going to be with her mother 24/7 something’s gonna have to give. If you’re not willing to give with the borrowed boobs, that is. 🙂

  2. Yeesh. Maybe instead of Luna you should have nicknamed her Bellatrix? Or Moaning Myrtle. You’re a better person than I — I’d just leave her to wallow in her misery.

  3. I’m definitely in favour of breast feeding, but there comes a point where it is impractical and stops being the best thing for the child – and it kind of sounds like that point has been reached. If she isn’t eating barely anything all day she has got to be hungry! Exclusive breastfeeding at 17 months is unusual, isn’t it?

    • Allison: That’s kind of my opinion, too. She’s returned to work now, even if it is part-time and at home, so I’m really wishing Luna had been more weaned before she came here… although I don’t *think* her mom knew the extent of the dependency on the boob, not only for calories but for comfort.

      Nan: I did leave her to wallow, eventually. If she’ll be howling whether she’s in my lap or out of it, I’d rather she be as far from my ears as possible.

      May: I’m in favour of breastfeeding too. And I know the WHO says breastfeeding for two years is now the recommendation (ack, my boobs cry a little just thinking of it). But yes, still subsisting largely on breastmilk by this age is very unusual. I gather her older sister nursed until she was almost three, so they are definitely an extended BFing family, and certainly Molly is a big, boisterous kid who eats like a horse so it didn’t cause any lasting issues – but yes, by the time her mom comes to pick her up Luna is starving, having eaten basically nothing for the better part of five hours.

  4. Gah! Poor you, having to deal with the wailing toddler. Poor Luna, needing so much comfort from mom and having to try to navigate without it. Poor mom, trying to make ends meet while still doing the best she can for her baby. Hard all around. 😦

    Have you told the mom that Luna asks to nurse? Is there some way she could take a break midway through and come in for some boob time for Luna? Or would two goodbyes from mommy in one day make it even worse for Luna?

    • I have talked it over with Luna’s mom – she’s not unduly concerned and suggested I offer her as much cow’s milk as she wants as a stopgap… of course toddlers being toddlers today she did the complete opposite of yesterday; had some raisins at snack and a whole piece of ham, half an orange, some cereal bar, milk & water at lunchtime. Plus she had a little nap in the stroller on our very long walk, which I think helped, too. I suspect we’ll just need to all get used to one another (and maybe get some earplugs for the scream-fests in the meantime).

  5. The plus side is that she’s one and a half, and so HOPEFULLY she will be soon interested in other foods. It can’t be too long, anyway, before she starts to eat solids.

    That does seem like a lot of nursing for a child that age – but maybe she will eventually start to wean a little bit. I knew a woman who exclusively – no solids – breastfed until her son was well over a year, and he had problems learning how to chew. Perhaps this might be part of the issue, with gagging and spitting.

    • Given today’s events, wherein she ate some solid lunch just fine, thanks, I suspect this is more about testing my boundaries than anything else. Oh, and when her mom arrived for pick up today, Luna immediately clutched the same knee she ‘injured’ yesterday, and started to cry. I think I’m being had. :p

  6. Wow 17 months and still primarily breastfeeding? And here I was feeling like a Viking for still nursing Owl at all – he nurses off and on near-constantly when I’m around but he goes without it all day at daycare no problem, and even at home he snacks on solid food constantly.

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