Vail Novice Father: These go to eleven |

Vail Novice Father: These go to eleven

Kelly Coffey
Vail CO Colorado

VAIL, COlorado –The standard for the last twelve months in Colorado’s Vail Valley has been a baby with a happy, healthy personality. That’s what my wife and I have come to consider normal for our year-old daughter. This past month, however, the normal turned onto chart-topping tantrums.

The Kid is teething.

Today the Kid got into a level ten tantrum. The difference between regular crying and a full-on tantrum is not only volume but the inability to distract her out of it… even with things she would want, like food, hugs, toys, or painkillers.

The Kid has a few teeth. But there are far more empty spaces where teeth eventually appear. I’m hesitant to call this the peak of her teething. Before I declare that we’ve seen the worst of the tantrums, I can’t help but think of Nigel Tufnel in This is Spinal Tap. The bandleader, unsatisfied with the volume controls on normal amplifiers that only go to ten, shows off the controls on his customized amplifier: “These go to eleven.”

On a scale of one to ten, these screaming fits and middle-of-the-night wake-ups reach ten these past weeks. With all the teeth yet to come in, I’m not ruling out the possibility of us hitting eleven.

I picked her up and bounced her gently in my arms. I took her outside to our back patio. The change in scenery, the wind blowing on her face, the birds chirping in the trees: these would normally distract her from her troubles. But this time she stayed focused on her tantrum. She screamed so loud that I took her back inside, embarrassed that our neighbors would hear.

When the Kid was only weeks old, strangers in public would comment that her soft cries were so cute. Weak whimpers like a puppy dog. Now the Kid has a well-developed set of lungs. Strangers don’t make that comment anymore.

The change in her behavior this month is dramatic. Because it was her teeth that caused all the pain, I grabbed the Children’s Tylenol off the kitchen counter. I keep a collection of liquid painkillers, gum rubs, and teething tablets lined up on my kitchen counter for easy reach. The Children’s Tylenol came in an eyedropper, which was a little awkward to manage while I held a convulsing child in my arms. A couple tries and I measured out the right amount of liquid.

The next step was to get the eyedropper in her mouth. But again (tantrum) she wanted nothing to do with it. So, like playing Operation in an earthquake, I got the eyedropper in her mouth. Once the cherry-flavored liquid hit her tongue, she settled down enough to take the whole amount.

Painkillers don’t work instantly, and I had to kill some time before the Tylenol would kick in. Rock her back and forth. Walk up and down the stairs. Look out the window and point out the birds and squirrels. Put in an ABBA cd and bounce around to “Dancing Queen.” Point out the pictures on the wall.

As with every tantrum in the past, this one eventually mellowed out into its denoument. The Tylenol kicked in and I put the Kid to bed for the night, happy for the little bit of quiet that would last for what small amount of evening was left.

There will be more tantrums. This one surely reached ten on the scale. My daughter may well dig into her reserves so the next one goes to eleven.

Kelly Coffey is a novice father. He shares his mistakes, fears, and laughs along his journey to figure out how anybody could possibly raise a child. E-mail comments or questions about this column to

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