Monday, August 13, 2012

The Tantrum Thrower

Pictured: The descent into tantrum-land when Daddy won't let LO break the camera.

Though LO is still about three weeks shy of his second birthday, the terrible twos have already begun. My sweet young man has figured out that throwing himself on the floor and screaming, whining, and crying while attempting to do himself grievous bodily harm will have absolutely no effect on his parents' willingness to give him what he wants.


What's most frustrating about the new tantrum-throwing abilities is the fact that some of them could be prevented with the use of English. Sometimes, LO wants something that he is absolutely allowed to have, but the fact that refuses to communicate with anything other than pointing and "Ah"ing in the general direction of what he wants means that his bewildered parents are unable to discern what it is that is vital to his continued tantrum-free existence and the young man becomes frustrated and the self-floor-throwing begins.

That's not usually the case, however. Usually he throws a tantrum because of something he is not allowed to do, something he is unable to do, or something that I am asking him to do that he deems unnecessary. In the past several weeks, LO has had a tantrum over the following:

Not being allowed to come into the bathroom with me.

Not being allowed to eat chocolate pudding for breakfast.

Having to clean up a toy he threw on the floor.

Being told that it was not time to watch a movie.

Being unable to get his cars lined up on the back of the couch in a manner that was satisfactory to his tidy impulses.

Etc, etc, ad infinitum.

The kid comes by the tantruming honestly. I was a champion tantrum-thrower as a little girl. Had there been a Tantrum Olympics, I either would have won the gold or thrown myself on the floor beside the podium and kicked and screamed until the organizers wondered why the hell anyone would hold an event for tantrums. (Theoretically, that would be the case for all the elite, world-class tantrumers, which is why there has never been such an Olympics).

When I was about six years old, I decided that I would stop throwing tantrums when I turned 8. As arbitrary as this may sound, there was a reason behind my age choice. All the books I read were about eight-year-olds, and so they therefore seemed both worldly and impossibly cool. Eight-year-olds were far too cool to succumb to the indignity of a public (and/or private) meltdown just because they didn't get something. In my head, eight-year-olds had the ironic and detached indifference necessary to really keep anyone from knowing just how much the refusal of an ice cream cone affected them.

I wanted that ironic detachment!

So, as of my eighth birthday, I stopped throwing tantrums, which was probably both maddening and an enormous relief to my parents.

I've since realized that the aura of cool surrounding eight-year-olds probably stemmed from the fact that I was reading a little ahead of my grade level. (That's a reason the AAP will never tell you for why you want to get your kids hooked on reading. But you'll appreciate that far more than improved SAT scores, let me tell you.)

Here is my problem: even if I can convince LO that big boys are far too cool to throw tantrums, 8 is six long years away. I could start reading him Encyclopedia Brown to lay some foundation, but this is the same stubborn child who doesn't use English just because he's expected to.

I can just hear the Russian judges getting their 10 score cards ready.

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