Well, the good news is we saw the doctor... the bad news... we saw the doctor. As I knelt on the floor last night cleaning up yet another mess from the Exorcist baby, it in some ways I came to a realization. In a lot of cases, you have to take doctor advice and tailor it to your needs. (Homeboy had FIVE meals yesterday thanks to losing two!)
What I mean by that is, sometimes you've got to take the advice and make it work for your situation and your child. A friend said to me yesterday, "You know your child much better than any doctor." She's right, so I know that some of what he said is true... some, however, doesn't quite fit.
We talked about the neurological aspects of vomiting and coughing at the doctor's office - in as much depth as you can with two crazy toddlers running wild. The doctor is of the opinion that it is emotional, and that the main thing to remember is that I can't let it alter me as a parent. (Oh, but it has!) He said that it may take us having a "throw up all you want" approach for a while if necessary while reigning in control.
That's all well and good, to a certain point - it's true. We'll do dances and sing to keep this kid from throwing up and in a disciplinary moment - that has to stop. So, I will absolutely begin working on that - and just parenting the same way I would James.
I do understand that you've got to parent the child in the way they need - not just a set way across the board... as each child is different and has their own needs/issues. On the same hand, I want the boys to be held to the same standards with the same consequences - at least at this point. I'm sure somewhere down the road - they will respond to different consequences more effectively... but today, we've got limited resources for that with toddlers.
Another thing that I know, is that there is a certain amount of this that isn't emotional. Tyler has got a very sensitive gag reflex, it's been obvious since birth. When he was a tiny infant - he would give up a whole bottle if the nipple hit his mouth wrong. It was such a problem that we basically had to be the only two people to feed him in order to prevent others from being covered in formula. Today, it comes in the form of accidentally (or maybe not) clipping that gag reflex with any number of things: toys, eating utensils, or his hands.
I've heard of toddlers being able to control situations by various different behavioral issues, but it's so hard to believe that your 21 month old baby is being a toddler terror controlling you. I mean, if you've been around here - you've seen his cute little face... it's hard to reconcile!
Where do we go from here? I'm in the process of talking with John and a Doctor I met online that has dealt with this in her own family. For us, I think it's going to have to come on a case by case basis. Where it is clear that it's a response to get us to not punish him or alter things in that way (aka tantrum) - we will stay the course and deal with what happens. Where it's a reaction to being hurt, scared, or an issue with gagging - we will likely try to prevent the episode with our normal attempts.
I certainly hope that I'm not dancing and acting like a total dork when this kid is 21 to keep him from barfing!