I suppose every parent has his or her own personal way of dealing with a kid’s temper tantrum. Some choose to ride it out, while others run like the wind to avoid it all together. My husband is one of those parents who tries to rationalize with the kicking and screaming child, treating it as some sort of business negotiation. He doesn’t seem to understand that the more he talks, the worse the fit becomes and the more pissed off the kid gets. And then there’s the “experimental” parent who truly has no friggin’ clue how to handle the situation and is willing to try anything and everything to just make the kid shut the hell up.
My mom tells me that my dad fell into this particular category when I was a baby. He traveled a lot and was by no means very experienced in Babycare 101. However, my mom decided to test his parenting skills one afternoon and leave me with him for a few hours so she could run over to the mall. She had started to shed a lot of her baby weight and was desperately in need of some new pants, so she figured that surely he could handle a couple measly hours alone with the baby. (Famous last words!)
She’d barely even made it into a dressing room before my dad had hunted her down and called the department store where she said she’d be (remember this was the “olden” days when you actually had to let people know where you’d be at all times in case of an emergency — no cellphones back then!) The sales lady told my mom that there was a very frantic man waiting on hold for her, so she rushed to the phone thinking something awful must have happened. Worst case scenarios filled her head as she picked up the phone and tried to prepare herself for the horrible news.
She immediately heard hysterical crying in the background as my dad frantically explained that he didn’t know what the hell to do with me. With a pit in her stomach, my mom tried her best to get him to simmer down enough to tell her just what had happened. He explained that I’d started crying and crying and that he just could not get me to stop. When the cries grew to a fever-pitch level, he recalled something he’d heard on the news about splashing a hysterical person with ice cold water to get them to calm down. So he decided to run a cold, cold bath and dunk me in it, only to find out that this made me cry even harder (yeah, go figure!)
My mom told him that she was leaving that instant for home and ended her shopping excursion right then and there. She raced home to rescue poor little me and to tell my dad what a complete dumbass he was. Turns out that I was simply hungry for a bottle. My dad tucked his tail between his legs and openly admitted defeat.
Now, clearly my dad had watched one too many cartoons (what, with the cold water in the face and everything?!), but kids most certainly do not come with an instruction manual. When it all boils right down to it, parenting truly is just all about trial and error, especially when it comes to handling temper tantrums. What works in one particular case may just blow up to shit in another. That’s why I’ve learned to come prepared and packin’ heat to any and all situations, duct tape in one hand, candy in the other.