Spirited?

In the last post, I alluded to the fact that we weren’t all hugs and rainbows at our house.  Sure, most of the time everything is beyond great but the spectacular blow-ups that punctuate those times are mind-numbingly awful.  On Sunday, I found myself scraping masticated string cheese out of my hair watching my child scream while army-crawling over the Target carpet.

When she blows up, she does it with such passion that I’m rendered speechless.  I can’t figure out whether to try to pick her up, leave her alone, soothe her, or let her soothe herself.  I default to a bottom line of checking for danger and, if there is none, promptly freezing in place.  At home, she usually tears off into her bedroom where she rages until either distracted or exhausted.  Efforts to intervene are met with red-faced, high-volume, beligerence.  Google defines this as “war-like behavior” and I’m not above admitting that sometimes I’m worried she’s armed with that yardstick she squirreled away into her room.

The reasoning for the tantrums isn’t always clear but can occasionally be attributed to:

The absence of blueberries
The admonition not to elbow-check her playmates
The suggestion not to run wildly down the street

The trend here is clearly the removal of things: the fruit that fuels her very survival, a face with which to target practice, the joy of a traffic-filled swath of freedom.

On a recent walk around the neighborhood, she decided not to ride in her stroller but that she would walk.  And by walk she meant blindly pushing the stroller into each available ravine, guardrail, and path of tour de france bicyclists.  We are her parents and thus know a) that we should have remembered that this is why we never use the stroller and b) therefore we should remove it as an option while walking.  The anger, it burned like a thousand angry suns.  And so she screamed.  All the way through the rest of the neighborhood and almost all the way home.  We had to remove her, beet red and flailing, from the middle of the street where she was laying on her back bellowing in fury.  Multiple times.  You think I’m exaggerating.  I am not.

I felt/feel pretty overwhelmed by this and am trying to continue to look at it with an eye toward development and independence.  I also admit to taking solace in this post from Jason Good 365 called “Tantrum in the Woods”  The penultimate and final paragraphs of that post reassure me that somewhere else in the world someone else is suffering these same fits.

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7 Responses

  1. I feel for you (and by “feel for you” I mean “cringe with you”). Temper tantrums are NOT fun and you never quite know what to do to handle them! When Bubs was living with us and he was three, I’m pretty sure the only way I survived them was by repeating my own special mantra in my head: “it’saphase it’saphase it’saphase” and also “he’s got to lose his voice eventually, the screaming will stop then.”

    Hang in there, mamas!

    • I never thought of it that way! It’s so hard to avoid offering option after option just to get her to stop – we can see the ill effects of that so we have to remind ourselves that we can’t try to guess at what she wants til we’ve got it. maybe her voice will give out! In the meantime, at least she retreats to her room and stands in a corner. We know she’s safe and coming up with her own solution to…well, rage.

  2. You know, I so very much want to meet you guys, yet, given an email I sent a mutual friend today pleading for advice, I suspect that our girls should never, ever, EVER meet.

    • The day will come. And, I’ll bet they’ll be old enough that they can run each other crazy while we eat brownies in order to avoid falling asleep from exhaustion.

  3. I stumbled across this article a while ago, and sometimes I think about it when Critter is throwing his own fits: http://mothering.com/parenting/a-fresh-approach-to-tantrums

    I like the idea of a tantrum being like a sneeze, that they just need to clear it out of their system and then they can go back to being themselves. The notion may or may not have any validity, but I find it somewhat comforting. Some days, there are a lot of sneezes.

    Critter mostly doesn’t rage for long (yet), but he is starting in on the tantrums. Including the ones, where, say his terrible interfering mothers have stopped him from pulling every bottle of shampoo off the grocery store shelves– a situation which positively *requires* one to throw oneself bodily to the floor and scream and thrash. Oh, and did I mention that while he’s down there, he tends to get curious about what the floor tastes like? Yes, it’s truly a delightful experience. Especially when there’s an audience.

    So, at the least, you’re not alone.

    • Thank you for the commiseration and the article! It makes me feel better, if only that’s because it’s pretty much what we’re doing. The concept behind it – like a valve releasing – is a new perspective and might make it easier at the next time this happens. Most of ours seem to relate to removal of something (like the tin cans) and seem perfectly reasonable to me. I want that, you won’t let me have it, I have no skills to cope with that yet, RAGE. I try to remind myself that it’s just like when I thought she would never ever turn over. Eventually, she’ll break through…I hope.

  4. She is just TOO cute.

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