Friday, January 09, 2009

Little Bits: Tantrums

Life has its ups and downs, I've heard that and I live it. Traveling from one extreme to the next when growing up is provided by the Tantrum Transit. When raising my 4 girls, tantrums were not really big problems for me, because I understood the frustration that caused a lot of them. It seemed like every time the babies would reach a landmark in development, shortly after the celebration of their remarkable feat, I found myself in a state of confusion because the "wonder child" would transform into a gnarly creature.

I was so excited when Em rolled over!! I didn't sleep for the next 3 weeks because she was mad that she couldn't roll back.

I was thrilled when Liz reached for toys because it meant she would soon be able to entertain herself. I didn't anticipate the aggravation she would experience over realizing her limitations in toy control. Reaching and manipulating are two different things.

When Rachel learned to walk ( woo hoo!!) she saw a whole new level of things she could not get into, and Mary's delight at being able to reach the doorknob to the world was very overshadowed by the fact that she could not reach the dead bolt that was 3 feet higher.

They voiced their frustrations in the forms of whines, screams, and baby mumbles. Their body language raged with wiggling, kicking, and squirming. When they were babies, I wished they could just tell me what it was, so I could help make it better. Then they started talking coherently and telling me what it was... and I began wishing for the mumbles again..

Be careful what you wish for......

On the other hand, it is funny how life has a habit of running in cycles, isn't it? For instance, as children mature, the tantrums dwindle. Life sort of lets you catch your breath- until adolescence trickles in- then the whole process starts over again. I remember being faced with a young lady tantruming who was, at that time, very near my size. (she has since grown much taller than I am. They grow, I shrink in height- that's another story) I was having such a adifficult time coping with the situation until I looked deep into the "eyes of the tiger". There, before me, was the familiar one year old, doing the Rumplestiltskin I knew so well, the 3 year old showing her determination, and the very familiar 4 year old who knew all there was to know and more.

I realized that I had seen this movie before. I was watching the same old frustration over not being able to have the toys that were out of arm's reach. The simple difference was that the toys had just changed over the years. With this empowerment of insight, I was able to maintain my cool as I had when they were terrible twos. I am so very grateful for that realization, because even now, when I look at an irate teen I smile inside, because I can so clearly see the adorable toddler within.

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