Last week my eighteen-month-old grandson Tate was doing his job, acting his age, throwing tantrums and frustrating Mom. Mo called, miserable.
I was immediately transported to the early 80’s as a first-time parent dealing with a willful toddler. Like all toddlers, Matt was masterful at the art of explosions.
Two instances stand out in particular. Once Matt raged on interminably, his screams bouncing off walls, rattling windows, and bringing me to the point of considering doing something regrettable. Afraid to stay within arm’s length of him, I grabbed the harvest gold Princess wall phone, stretched the coiled cord as far as possible and shut myself in the powder room. I called my friend Lynn. While Matt continued to wail on the other side of the door, Lynn talked me down. She let me rant, then centered me enough that I could open the door and deal with a baby who was simply acting his age.
The second clear memory I have is snatching the kid into my arms, taking the stairs by twos and dropping him into his crib. Was that cold? Probably. But the other choices I was mentally entertaining were far more chilling.
At the time I complained to my pragmatic sister. She said, “The good news is he’s still little enough to drop into a crib. When they are teenagers the options aren’t that simple.” True that, Marilyn.
I don’t have many memories of Mo tantrums. I’m sure she had them, but once you’ve been steeled by the first child, the second kid’s meltdowns don’t have the same impact.
Friend Sandy recently visited. She has four daughters. Her youngest was a talented tantrum throwing toddler. Sandy had weathered three other headstrong cherubs. By number four she found Shannon’s fits purely amusing. She said she would stand in the grocery store aisle as Shannon exploded, look down and laugh hysterically.
Sandy tried to imagine herself behaving that way. Can you picture it? Being so pissed off while waiting at the deli counter that you hurl yourself to the floor, beat the tiles with fists, pound your head against the floor, scream like a banshee and sob with misery? I’d love to do that!
Now imagine exhausting yourself with your fit. Settling down, opening your eyes and finding a circle of laughing shoppers standing over you. Tantrums are pretty funny when you divorce yourself.
BTW: Some adults actually do throw temper tantrums.