I spoke too soon. Within days of declaring the alleged terrible twos had yet to visit our house, they promptly arrived. That hardly seems fair. I am, however, working on the assumption they will now be finished early, to compensate for their premature arrival.
We are on holidays in France at the moment, and that pleasant day arrived when we happened to be in Tours. Not far outside Tours there is one of the worlds best Zoos, ZooParc de Beauval. Missy loves animals, and we thought this would be a fun family day. So off we go on the 40-minute drive. All was going fabulously, and we even arrived early enough to beat most of the crowds. Once in the park, we were ready to see it all. Then it happened; the arrival of Beelzebub.
It was simple actually, entirely my fault. My wife took Missy on a ride onto an old style merry-go-round. To say she was happy would be the proverbial understatement. Missy was screaming woops of delight. Then the ride stopped. “No problem”, thought Missy, “we’ll just sit here till it goes again”. It simply didn’t occur to her that she would have to get off. Never have I seen such wailing and thrashing. It got so awful we had to get her tout de suite to a grassed area, and stood back while the tantrum took its course. With hindsight, I should have sold tickets; she put on quite the show.
So what do you do when a child enters the Valley of the Tantrum? Firstly I am a strong believer that all kids are different, so parents are the best people to know what needs to be done in their individual case. For me, it was a mix of concern for our child and embarrassment that our child was acting this way. “She doesn’t normally act like this” and “she is usually so good”, is what babbled out of my mouth to bystanders. Any other parents around will totally understand. Sure they stare, but if you look closely, they stare with a mix of “boy I’m glad that’s not me”, and “poor people, I feel their pain”.
So once the initial thrashing was done, Missy proceeded to the next step in the process – sulking:
“Let’s go see the elephants”,
“OK, the lions?”
I think you get the picture. There were to be no more animals. She retreated into the stroller and put the hood down. Like a 2 foot tall Howard Hughes, our now reclusive daughter spent the rest of the day in her buggy cave, only venturing out occasionally for food.
This whole tantrum thing takes quite getting use to. No one wants to see their kids upset, but they can’t have or do whatever they want. The cheese grater is simply not an appropriate toy for a child, no matter how much they ask, cry or thrash about. But as time goes on, my tolerance to tantrums grows too, and I sit much more patiently while the rage takes its course. I am learning: it’s like my ability to go to the shop to buy milk, and come home with a block of chocolate, there is no point trying to rationalize it – it is what it is.