After yesterday’s wonderful day with the kids, today was so bad that Ed and I decided we’d rather go to the grocery store together with both kids than leave them at home with one or the other parent.
Yeah, it was that bad.
And towards the end of dinner, during which Jackson refused to eat anything except part of a slice of bread and some shredded cheese, he got up from the table and started playing around again after a final warning not to do so, so we took his plate to the sink. The poor kid went totally apeshit, letting loose a tirade of screaming and crying like we haven’t seen in a very long time, including several repetitions of “I hate you, Mommy!”
As parents, we all have our triggers (mine is refusal to follow instructions or respond to requests). I know that tantrums drive a lot of parents straight over the edge. But ever since I began reading Janet Lansbury when Jackson was a baby, tantrums are really one of the easiest parts of parenting for me. I think of them like a thunderstorm–they are loud and sometimes really wild, but they are almost never really dangerous and the best thing to do is just sit tight and wait until they pass. Sometimes I wish I had earplugs handy, but other than that, I just sit as close by as he will let me and wait until it’s over, occasionally acknowledging how sucky whatever is happening right then must feel to him.
And tonight that’s exactly what I did. After the third or fourth “I HATE YOU!” I told him that it sounded like he was really tired, that it was time for him to go to bed, and that I was going to take him to his room to put on his diaper and jammies. He thrashed and kicked the whole way, and continued to scream, “I wanna EAT!” I kept acknowledging how hard it was that he didn’t get to finish his dinner (knowing full well he would not have finished it even if we’d given him the chance– this was exactly why we ended dinner in the first place) and how mad he was. He continued to scream and cry while I laid him down to put on his diaper and jammies, but he didn’t physically fight me off or try to stop me from doing it. Once he was in pajamas, I gave him the choice to either read with me or lay down and snuggle right away, and at first, he kept screaming and crying. Then I said, “OK, if you don’t want to choose, then we’ll go ahead and lay down,” which prompted him to say, “I wanna read!” So we sat down, he picked out his book, and we read it. By the time it was over, the storm had passed, and he said, “Let’s snuggle, Mommy,” and in keeping with my new habit of snuggling with him until he falls asleep, I told him, “Oh, I am going to snuggle you so tightly tonight!”
And I did. And twenty minutes later, he was breathing deeply.
It started out pretty ugly, but I call that a win.