Big emotions have moved into our house. And right after I casually told a friend of mine, “Well, at least he doesn’t have tantrums that often.” Don’t I know better than to tempt fate like that?
Tantrum Town. We live there now. I guess it just took us a little longer to arrive.
There are a lot of things about tantrums I understand: a child’s desire to control some part of their world, their lack of communication skills, and oh oh, the frustration! And a lot of things are ones I expect to happen: crying over a minor thing like “Stop looking at me!”; asking for the impossible, like when I have cut a sandwich into the wrong shape. A friend of mine calls these days “broken banana days,” as in, “My banana is broken, no I don’t want a different whole banana, I want this banana right here that is on the floor to be back the way it used to be thirty seconds ago, and also the world is ending.”
But even knowing all that stuff, and observing them in other kids and helping friends dealing with all these things, I have really been blind-sided by the … how do I put it? Lack of foresight. Impossibility of planning. Randomized chaos. A curious thing I discovered about myself as a mom: I like planning, I love schedules, I want to wake up in the morning (or the middle of the night, which is what I consider it when I wake up before 6am) knowing what we are going to do today. I like looking over a pinterest board during nap time and saying, “We have all the stuff to play trucks in the mud this afternoon, let’s do it.”
I make a plan to go to the park. We are going to meet friends there, won’t that be fun? But someone doesn’t want to meet friends, he only wants to watch TV. “I’m sick, take my tempature, I need drinking medicine, I needa watch TV.” So, I get us all energized, talk up how much fun we can have at the park, we can have snacks there, won’t that be great? I finally get everyone dressed/shoes on/gone to the potty/into the car/snacks packed/seatbelts on. I arrive at the park feeling like I have just finished weight lifting for half an hour. Does anyone want to play in this fountain? Look, there are our friends, let’s see if they want to go on the swings!
Just to discover that Finn just wants to sit in the stroller and eat all the dried apricots we brought for lunch. Or, that he doesn’t want to dig in the sand, he just wants to play trains like that other kid is doing, except that we didn’t bring his trains today. Or that he wants to ride his bike up and down that hill over there, but it’s too far away from the benches and shade where I would like to stay with the baby. I am having a really hard time adjusting to the idea that no matter what I do, no matter how I plan, no matter how well I prepare, something is always going to be wrong. The happiness train is going to be derailed, in a very serious way, as soon as we arrive wherever we are going. I keep thinking next time maybe if I plan it better, things will be fine. But, I guess in Tantrum Town it doesn’t matter how much you plan for the chaos. It always sneaks up behind you.