You never know when a tantrum’s going to strike. Like tsunamis, hurricanes, car accidents and bad haircuts they come out of nowhere and leave you with a WTF kind of a feeling.
Emma’s been throwing a few duzi’s lately. And as is the case with tantrums they only happen in public places like restaurants, queues at the local store, church, or in confined little places where you can literally feel the stares of people without children (or their kids have outgrown the temper tantrum tyranny) or the empathy of parents with toddlers…
She’s thrown herself on the floor with friends of ours who chose, years ago, not to have kids and you can see them exchange the ‘I told you so’ look. She’s screeched like a foghorn with people who openly disapprove of out of control kids, and even more so of can’t keep control parents.
Emma’s tantrums are something to behold. She is able to contort her body into positions I’ve only ever seen gymnasts and ‘f**** f****’ girls achieve.
Short of her head spinning round and her body levitating above her big girl bed, her tantrums are like an exorcism and just like the super-natural, they need to be seen to be believed.
Parenting books can never actually prepare you for a full blown tantrum. On paper it looks so easy and the theory is great – walk away (so they can scream louder) until they’ve calmed down (this rarely ever happens), get down on their level (so when they hit they get a good shot in), reason with them (have you tried reasoning with a two year old at the best of times) and explain why their behaviour isn’t acceptable (after you’ve explained what ‘acceptable’ means. Of course parents are told to never threaten to leave the toddler behind (a not so bad idea at the time) or to smack (who’s protecting the rights of the parent?).
So in reality there’s very little you can do, except maybe leave whatever you’re doing, carry the child kicking and screaming to an area with fewer people (at a shopping centre this could be miles away, at the assembly point for bomb fires, bomb scares, terrorist attacks or toddler tantrums) and wait for the howling to become a wail to become a cry to become a soft whimper to become hiccups. Then you can attend to your child!
Tantrums are the great equalisers. Very few of us with children haven’t / won’t have a moment with a child in front of you thrashing themselves about in the middle of Toys R Us while you stand shrugging your shoulders with an ‘I have no idea what to do’ look on your face while whispering a prayer that the floor swallows you up there and then.
To those parents who survived them I salute you. To those going through them I feel you. For those awaiting the baptism by fire I wish you well. May you have the fortitude and the courage to get through them (yes them, not it) unscathed, undamaged and with your sense of humour (and mind) in tact.
Tantrums have been around as long as there’s been kids. Expect them as part of your toddler growing up and discovering the world around them. Accept that they’re going to happen in inconvenient places and expect people to look on in horror. Don’t worry about being embarrassed or what people think…chances are they’re feeling your pain and thinking ‘there, but for the grace of God go I!’