I’ll never forget that first temper tantrum. No mother does, I guess.
Of course, we would be out in public, at the Joseph Beth bookstore during the children’s story hour on a Saturday, no less.
We listened to the stories, colored a baby angel and nibbled on cookies. Then, she discovered the big train set over by the board books.
An hour later, she refused to give up the trains and leave the station. I tried every trick in the book. I promised her we’d be right back. I told her we were going to McDonald’s. I told her that we were going to get cupcakes.
And finally, I grabbed her and started walking away. She was squirming and screaming “twain, twain, twain!” and I was trying to juggle her diaper bag, our book purchases and 25 pounds of stubborn toddler.
I made it to the escalators when all hell broke lose. Literally. The demons and goblins and the rest of hell’s welcoming committee rose from the depths and possessed my daughter for about two minutes. She rolled around on the floor, screaming at the top of her lungs and spitting fire.
People stopped and stared and shook their heads and one of the employees came over and asked me if everything was okay.
Finally, I figured the best thing would be to drop the bags, pick her up and take her back to the train set. Bad idea, I know. But it stopped the screaming.
As I sat there, embarrassed and mad at myself for giving in, I thought to call my mom.
“Go right over there to her and tell her in a firm voice that you are leaving the store and that she needs to put on her coat and come with you or you will leave her there,” said Joyce Beasley, mother of eleven children. “And the next time she has a temper tantrum, you have one, too. Do exactly what she does. I promise you, she’ll never do it again.”
Chastised, I did as I was told. And Michaela did the same, following me out of the store like nothing ever happened.
But a few hours later, she tried me again. This time, we were at home, thank God. And this time, I was ready. I told her it was time for bed and she had a meltdown.
Following her lead, I fell on the floor, flailing my arms, kicking my feet, screaming and yelling “no, no, no”.
So I kicked the screamed a little more for good measure.
Michaela looked at me as if she wanted to say “wow, mom, you have really lost your mind.” Instead she said: “Mommy, I wanna go night-night”.
And off to bed she went.
She learned a lesson. And so did I.
I couldn’t help but think that having a temper tantrum felt pretty good, that maybe I’d be less stressed if I had a few fits a day myself.
Then I thought, well, actually, I have thrown a few temper tantrums of my own. You know, like when God doesn’t give me what I want, when I want it. Or when I do good and get bad in return. Or when I see good things happening to bad people.
I do the same thing Michaela was doing, in my own little adult way. I pout. I complain. I swear I’ll never do the right thing again. I quit going to church for a few days. I stop paying my tithes. I roll my eyes, suck my teeth and hiss.
And it feels good.
And I can’t help but wonder what God thinks about my immature display of anger, jealousy, frustration and impatience. Does he shake his head and chuckle? Does he punish me by making me wait even longer? Or does he wait patiently for me to calm down and learn some patience?
Thank God for his patience with me. And I'm so happy he doesn't follow my mom's advice for dealing with tantrums.