Before I lay into the holidays, I feel like I should first tell them what I love about them. To like soften the blow or something. Because I’m sure holidays have feelings too.
So here we go.
Oh hey holidays, how you doing? I’ve been wanting to chat to you about why I adore you because, well, we all love a bit of positive affirmation don’t we? So probably the most wonderful thing about you is that we get to sleep in later than usual and let’s face it, my life revolves around sleep so you know how much that means to me. But that’s not all – because of you, I don’t have to facilitate homework every afternoon, there’s time for more play dates, no driving all over Cape Town for extra murals, more flexibility on bed times and I’m sure there’s a lot more. So holidays, I want you to know that you’re special. You really are.
But there’s something else we need to talk about. It might be hard to hear, but I feel like you should know.
I know you don’t mean it, but with your wonderful carefree attitude towards how every day is spent, it puts me in a bit of a situation. You see I happen to have a child that thrives on routine. And yes, I know that you could argue that we’re not big on routine (and you’d be right), but getting up every morning and going to school is part of our haphazard day and now that it’s not there, we are all sufferring.
How are we all sufferring? Oh, well, that’s because the child that thrives on routine just happens to show that she’s put out by throwing the most epic tantrums ever in the whole World. Actually I’m surprised you didn’t know. It’s pretty much impossible to drown out the sound. I know this, because I’ve tried.
Just last night (only two days into being on holiday) as we implemented the nightly routine of playing their songs as they drift off to sleep, there was an illogical statement made, “You didn’t play my song!“. To which I replied, “Of course I played your song, you must not have been listening.” It was roughly 8.30pm – if you were wondering if it was an earthquake that made your house shake, it wasn’t. It was the beginning of the tantrum.
Now, we’ve come a very long way in handling these emotional explosions and so has she. When she was younger she’d rage on for hours (not even joking), thrashing, biting, screaming and just generally losing her freaking mind. She’d never appologise and it left us all in a state of shock, until the next time – which was probably just a few days later. She had no control over it and trying to speak sense into her was as futile as trying to fart in a hurricane.
Things have gotten easier as she has gotten older. We’ve both learned how to deal with them. I’ve learned not to try and get involved – because I can’t fix it. She’s learned that she needs to process what she’s feeling and work through it on her own terms.
So when it happens I’ll make a few statements about her taking a moment to cry or shout or whatever it is that will make her feel better and then when she’s ready, I’ll be waiting to cuddle it out. Sometimes (when it’s really bad), she becomes rude and even violent in which case I go over and fake my most calm voice (even though I am either trying not to cry myself or so angry that I could kill someone with a look) and tell her that while it’s OK to feel angry or sad, it’s not OK to be rude to me. Then repeat the thing about being there when she needs it and I step away. Usually she’s in my arms in the next few minutes with a new rush of tears as she says sorry. Then we take a few long deep breaths, talk over why it was maybe a bit unnecessary for such a big reaction to something that could have been resolved in a better way and then hug it out. Sometimes it takes a tag team of me being the calm rational one and Seth being the “If you don’t calm down and stop being rude I’ll give you something to cry about” one before she calms down, but then it’s over. Like a violent storm that scared everyone into hiding with thunder and lightening but it didn’t even rain.
The more I think about tantrums (and I think about it a LOT), the more I realise that there’s no quick fix. If you have a child like ours, who is inherently a feeler – with endless emtions that can’t be easily controlled, the chances are that you’re going to have a harder time helping them to deal with working through them. It’s all part of this wonderfully confusing parenting journey that we find ourselves on, so I guess we better just make peace with it.
But I just can’t leave it there. I just can’t. Which means I feel like I need to ask anyway, because I’d quite like it if we could just stop these tantrums altogether. So Holidays, do you think you could help me out a little this time round? Pretty please. Go easy on us.