Children throw everything into their emotions.
When Missy is angry, her entire being is angry. There is no reason, nor adequate explanation, as to why she can’t play with the carving knife. It’s unfair, and it will not be put aside without a fight.
But then there’s the flip side. One minute screaming and inconsolable at not having access to a blade that could reasonably take off a limb, the next minute, Missy will be a giggling bundle of joy, wearing the colander as a hat and her entire being now happy.
Missy, like most children, doesn’t hold grudges, and that’s just as well, as I have a nasty habit of (unintentionally) causing bumps and scrapes to my daughter. But no matter how unpleasant the cut, lump or bruise, Missy always forgives me. Soon enough I am back in the good books, and she is merrily trying to put her toys into my belly button.
As a new parent, it took me a while to work out that Missy could suddenly change emotions. Bed time crying would have my wife or I sitting on the floor next to her cot holding her hand, thinking this would go on all night, but at some indeterminate moment, all would go quiet and she would drift into sleepy happiness.
I am especially fascinated by tantrums. At first, I would get all worked up that my daughter was being unreasonable and not thinking clearly. You just can’t eat paint, and no amount of thrashing around on the floor would make me let her. Why couldn’t she understand? So onto the floor she goes, wailing about at the injustice of it. As time moved on, I got more comfortable with things like that (tantrums, not eating paint). I also use to worry about what people would think if we were out and she started to cry, and so obsessively carried around a pacifier.
Now when the tantrum starts I clear an area, making sure any flailing will not result in the loss of an eye or appendage, and calmly watch. Come to think of it, I could sell tickets to this show; she puts on quite a performance. It’s the same for crying. All babies cry, and I’m not a bad parent for letting my daughter cry in public because I won’t let her walk on the road. Crying because I jammed her finger in a draw is unsatisfactory parenting…but let’s just pretend that never happened. Anyway, it’s usually all over in a few minutes.
I like the fact that her emotions are raw and untarnished by convention. Imagine going to work and telling your boss exactly what you thought of him or her, then half hour later, heading out for a latte together like old friends. With Missy, I know exactly how she feels because she lets me know.
The problem is, convincing her not to tell mum that I let her play with the cheese grater. Best I go and get the colander on.