Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Big Girls Don’t Cry (But This One Sometimes Has The Overwhelming Urge To Throw Something In A Fit of Rage)

Have you ever watched your child, or any child for that matter, in the midst of a hysterical meltdown and thought to yourself, “What I wouldn’t give to be able to pitch a fit like that”?

We live with a two-and-half year old and a four year old, both females in case you haven’t been following along, so we have no shortage of hysterics in our house. I really shouldn’t complain because the number of tantrums thrown in our house is relatively low I suppose. While one daughter seems to have a flair for the theatrics a little more than the other, both are relatively adept at handling situations that frustrate them in an age appropriate manner. Tears are bound to happen, but for the most part the crisis is addressed and life goes on.

Depending on frequency of previous skirmishes, degree of sleep deprivation, hunger level, or if the wind is blowing just so from the west our girls may demonstrate behaviors that are a little more, shall we say, exaggerated. This morning Shortcake was highly peeved that her sister was handed the pink sippy cup forcing Shortcake to use the purple sippy cup. Travesty of all travesties! With foot stomping that could be heard clear from the kitchen to the back of the house, Shortcake marched to her room where she closed her door and cried for five minutes. I made the executive decision not to go after her. I explained my reasons for giving the pink cup to Punkin – she asked for it first – and honestly at seven o’clock this morning I didn’t feel like getting in an argument about who gets what cup. Your mother has spoken and so it shall be.

Our little Punkin is the resident Drama Queen of One Carbon Hill. I’m sure you are not shocked by this revelation. Girlfriend can throw herself to the floor with the best of them, her pout has been perfected for months, and she currently possesses a rather impressive range of voice types. We’re talking anything from a high pitched scream to the newly acquired demon possessed growl. She needs some work on her fake cry (probably the weakest weapon in her current bag of tricks), but I assure you that she doesn’t let that stop her from utilizing it when she feels it’s appropriate. The most vivid tantrum I have of Punkin is one that she threw over a year ago at my parents’ house. The girls had spent the weekend with Gramma & Papa while The General and I were off gallivanting at some random social gathering, and when I came to pick them up Punkin steamed straight ahead into “My mommy is here so now I have to show off” mode. I requested that she do something unspeakable like find her shoes, and she threw herself face first onto the floor shouting “NO!” in the process. My mom decided to take the reins, and every single time she said something to Punkin our youngest would flip from tummy to back, back to tummy, tummy to back while simultaneously doing some sort of dramatic donkey kick. She must have done this at least six times, shouting “NO!” with each flip and kick. It is here that I’ll admit while I was highly annoyed by her disrespectful behavior, I was also not-so-silently giggling at her theatrical display. Plus, it amused me that quick-to-fix-it-with-a-little-talk Gramma wasn’t working her magical powers so much that particular day.

There are times throughout my day, whether it be at work, home, or out in the community, that I think, “What I wouldn’t give for it to be socially acceptable for me to throw a tantrum right now”. Example: I’m working on a report at school, last paragraph almost complete, when the computer freezes. I failed to save as I was working. Reaction: fall to floor in a heap. Example: I'm at the store at 5 pm after a long day at work. I have both crabby girls with me and the store is packed. It's not until I'm boxed into the line in front of two other customers that I realize the gallon of milk I put in my cart has a small hole and is now leaking all over the floor and belt. I can't not go back to the dairy section because I know we're out of milk at home. Reaction: big fat crocodile tears. Example: Being transferred from department to department only to be disconnected after holding for ten minutes. When you call again you’re transferred again from one department to another, making it painfully obvious no one knows what in the h-e-double hockey sticks they’re doing. Reaction: arms and legs flailing to and fro, possibly accompanied by not-quite-coherent screaming (okay, maybe I bend the “socially acceptable” rules a bit to include this one in extreme circumstances. Like when the girls won't pick up their toys after I've asked nicely seventeen billion times, for example).

We spend so much of our time as parents teaching our kids to “talk it out” or “use their words” when they’re upset. If you stop to think about it though, isn’t the impact of words plus additional large body movements slightly more effective? I mean, I can ignore people talking, but is it really that easy to not pay attention to someone banging their head against the wall in a fit of rage? Do you think that if we as adults handled our emotions in a way similar to our toddlers and preschoolers we’d all be better off? After all, for my daughters they meltdown then move on, not carrying with them one ounce of whatever turmoil plagued them five minutes before. I am famous for harboring feelings for hours (if not days or weeks), ruminating over situations until they almost consume me. Maybe Shortcake and Punkin are on to something with this "hissy fit it and forget it" model.

So let’s hear it. Give me one situation you have encountered (yes, Munchkin, you must narrow it down to one) which would cause you to throw a tantrum heard 'round the world if it didn't mean ridicule and isolation from those around you, and what juvenile technique would you use for expressing your emotion?


Munchkin said...

can't be done

studies show that the most effective age is 1-3 b/c they will scream, cry, and (insert other annoying/obnoxious/unbearable sound or act here) until they get what they want... they have no grasp or concern with embarrassment b/c they don't know any better
the older we get the more we're taught about "socially acceptable" behavior and why tantrums are out of style, i know this is all obvious but i think it's interesting to note the effectiveness of these ear-piercing little lads

Parker said...

Perfect timing for this post. Today I had to get up at 3:45 am, drive 3.5 hours to wait for 2 hrs and then be told "Sorry, we won't be needing you today..but thanks for driving down!" My reaction: "Okay! Let me know if you need anything in the future!" and I leave to drive 3.5 hours back home. The reaction I would have preferred to give: Me stomping out, slamming every door on the way out of the building, even the ones I wasn't using, and yelling. Lot's of yelling. Not even saying anything...just yelling to make noise. Somehow, I think that would have gotten everyone's attention.

Mrs., just wait until you have 2 preteen/teenage girls in the house. ESTROGEN OVERLOAD!

The General said...

That's when I get a dog.

Anonymous said...

My sister-in-law has started to throw tantrums right along with her daughter. At that point, my niece realizes how ridiculous and annoying she is being and stops. Sometimes, I think my sis in law actually threatens my niece with a tantrum to prevent them!

Meghann said...

I've had two this week.

1-At Logan's cardio appointment. It was TWO HOURS before we were seen. And they examined him all of 5 or 10 minutes, and we were told he is fine and we could go home. Did I mention we waited two hours? I sat there patiently and waited, while really I wanted to be running around and getting into everything like Logan was.

2-Yesterday we picked up drive thru for lunch. The line was long, it took forever to get through it. Then I get our food, pull off, and then discover they forgot some of the food. My choices were to either park, get all 4 kids out, get them inside, wait for the food, take them back out, get them all back in the van and buckled and then get to go home, OR I could wait in the long line again, with whiny hungry children. I ended up choosing the line, and all I got was a "Sorry about that!" I smiled a thin smile and drove off, when really I wanted to throw a fit and demand some free cinnamon twists.

Tina said...

Mrs - I agree - the post is at exactly the right time. (And will save me from blogging about it on my own site)

My choir concert is tonight, and I have hired an accompanist, who is a private piano and voice teacher, has a master's degree in music ed and has accompanied choirs in the past. Long story short - she is absolutely terrible. I actually had to give her a brief lesson today (after rehearsal) to show her the mistakes that she was making. Her comments? "The lights in the auditorium aren't very bright"; "I don't usually play fast music like this"; "My piano teacher always said that keeping a steady beat wasn't my strong suit".


She also said, "I don't think I'll be accompanying for you again". My response? "I don't think so, either."

I feel better. Pray for my students, that they do a good job despite this incompetency.


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