Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Temper Tantrums

Never mud wrestle a pig. You both get dirty. But only the pig has fun.

The same could be said of joining your five year old's temper tantrum. Only nobody has fun.

Not that I'm calling my son a pig. If we're comparing people to animals I'd have to choose a Labrador puppy. Cute but hyper. J.J. is a pigeon because of the way he approaches people who have food. Johnny is a chimpanzee, running around the house like it's a jungle. I'm a hippo because I love to swim and grapefruit. Not that I've given it much thought.

Anyway, it's just a figure of speech.

We had driven to Chicago for my brother's birthday and nephew's baptism, which was very fun. But I won't write about the good parts, which lack melodrama.

I'll deny this if Johnny and J.J. ever ask about it later, but usually Richie is our easiest child. If I ask him to do something, he'll at least pretend to do it. He won't argue. He doesn't get bored easily. For instance, he can do one thing--like write his name big, then small, all day long. He's just an easy-going guy.

But on this morning, he was not easy going. He wouldn't get dressed in his church clothes.

Typically, I have a policy at our house that the kids dress themselves. Because otherwise they fight me about what I pick out for them.

My friend says they make a sticker that says, "I dressed myself today," so that everybody knows it's the kid--not the parent--who's an idiot.

Well, when I see kids dressed nicely on a day to day basis, I think their parents should wear stickers that say, "I dressed my kid today," so that I know that they are idiots. Why else would they fight that battle? Or maybe it's not a battle at their house.

Getting Richie dressed, as he complained every step of the way, I began fuming. Between carrying him into time out and telling him time out doesn't count if you're yelling, "Mom, can I get out of time out?!" the whole time, and going back in the room saying, "Stand still so I can get you dressed!" I thought:

Sometimes, Richie, you have to wear what your mom says. And,by the way, I cannot get you dressed while you're collapsing like a marionette doll. Also, when I say to go in time out for that, I'm not saying it for the sake of argument. I really really mean it. I need some "mommy" time.

And when, finally, you're dressed and it's time for me to get ready, I would appreciate you not following me into the room so that I can continue to hear you throw a fit. Furthermore, thanks for setting a trend. Now J.J. is throwing a fit. And you know what? If everybody else is going to have a fit, maybe I will too.

So I pulled a guilt trip that Justin (who was not on the trip--to Chicago, though he was in the guilt trip) thinks went overboard. I don't think a guilt trip can ever go overboard. But that's just me.

I said, "You know what? This has been a really bad morning for me, too. When you throw a fit in a house full of people, that's not fun for me. Daddy's not here, and he asked you to be the man of the family. And you're not helping.We're not going to church with everybody because 1. You took forever to get ready so we're running late. 2. I don't take people throwing fits out in public. 3. I'm exhausted from this temper tantrum."

He looked at me and for a minute, I thought he'd ask, "Whose temper tantrum are you exhausted from? Yours or mine?"

Instead, he said, through tears, "I want to go back to Kansas City."

Maybe I did go overboard.

Sometimes, I act as if I am the leading scholar of temper tantrums. I tell other parents, "I know by now to ignore them when they throw a fit. It always passes."

Other times, I get worked up and jump into the mud pit. After they throw a fit, kids are like new people. But for grownups, it's exhausting and you feel sorry. Parents should wear stickers afterwards that say, "I joined into my five year old's temper tantrum today."

That would explain our haggard appearance.

It could be a whole line of stickers to explain why we look like Revenge of the Zombies: "I talked politics with my teenager today." "I took away my toddler's pacifier today." "I attempted to reason with my 13-year-old today."

Or it could just be a sticker to fit any of these situations: "I mud wrestled a pig today. And nobody won."


Anonymous mom said...

Really cute! And so true. We've all been through it and you're exactly right about the outcome - the parent loses. I think you still have to fight some of the battles though to act like the parent is in charge!!!

6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You handled it so well...i need to take notes...i am a yeller...that's no are so patient, loving and a great example. i am so glad you and the 2 boys made it up...i know it's so hard traveling and especially disciplining your kids in someone elses are the best and i love you!!

8:50 AM  

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