A Tantrum Tale


     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.


14 Responses

  1. Oh my gosh..this is hysterical!

    I have 2 two year olds and the tantrums have begun. Duct tape sounds like something I need to make available very very soon 🙂

  2. “duct tape in one hand, candy in the other”
    Truer words have never been spoken.

    PS- you poor, cold, wet, hungry little baby.

  3. Awesome. Watching my dad with my children, it is clear that he’s never spent any time alone caring for a child. It hilarious, in a tragic sort of way. 😉

  4. That made me laugh out loud , how funny!

  5. My husband is getting better as the kids get older…but he ran for the hills when they were babies and cried 🙂

  6. packing heat indeed indeed!!

  7. “duct tape…and candy..” i like that. i don’t rationalize with my kid when he’s mid-TT. i leave him to simmer down in his room and then we talk about what his problem is and how to solve it. typically, he realizes i won’t give in to his demands and screams while in TT stage, and he’ll calm down and return to normal and want to talk about “it” rationally. works for me. take care.

  8. This is my “do-over” as I have raised my 22yr old & an 18 yr old daughters and now I have my 4 year old twins. Temper tantrums are never the same. They never start the same, end the same nor are treated the same with each child (or little devil at the time). My husband totally blows at handling meltdowns which I just don’t get. I mean, here he is certified in handling Emergency Crisis and all for Fire Rescue and he can’t handle his twin girls. He looks like a lost puppy, throws his hands in the air and suddenly…he remembers that he has something might important to fix/tend to outside. That is how men handle meltdowns.

    Moms~well, we all have our own little secrets don’t we. 🙂

  9. I think my dad may have only come home to father us and then left again. I don’t think he has ever held any of his grandchildren as babies and really has nothing to say to them until they are old enough to get him a beer!

  10. LOL!! Ice water? That’s hilarious! Do you have a phobia of cold baths to this day? Temper tantrums. the joy. When my daughter was 3-1/2 it was hell on earth. I drove up to a daycare center and sat out front, relieved that I COULD leave her there. It made me feel a lot better. 😀

  11. That sounds like something that would have happened with my Father. Funny thing is he was basically clueless as a Father, but he’s an AWESOME Grandfather!!

  12. OMG! He dunked a baby in a cold bath? It’s funny now, but I can just imagine that your Mom never went shopping without you again.

    This is sooooo true & why I get mad @ new parents who quote parenting books or watch too much “Super Nanny” & think there’s a formula to stopping a hissy fit.
    I usually just smile on the inside & wish them to have for their next child the most demonic 2 year old!

  13. Is it OK if a dad adds a comment? 😉

    I’m 29 years old, and I have 3 kids (boy 4.5y, girl 3y, boy 10months). It seems really obvious to me that the gap between my own dad and me is absolutely huge, as far as we talk about childcaring.

    It’s OK for me to deal with my kids starting to “temper”. The thing I have understood after a few years: never truly get angry. I have to “play the angry dad”, but I’m not really angry, or else I would go into depression every two days 😀 I’m often impressed by my kids when they go from crying to laughing in less than 10 seconds.

    Nice story, I hope dads are becoming more skilled when it comes to childcaring 🙂

    • Of course it’s ok for a dad to comment! I love to hear a guy’s perspective! You are so dead on about kids being able to go from kicking & screaming to busting out laughing within the blink of an eye — wish adults could be more like that without being prescribed a mood stabilizer. I sure hope you stop by again & always feel free to comment — I love hearing from my readers! 🙂

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