Picture this with me if you please…
You’ve just rushed home from a long day at the office where you have been on the go all morning and of course, you have worked. Because, well, that’s why they call it work and all. Anyway. You’re tired, but you’ve finally beat the traffic and made it home to spend some time with your children. It starts off well. You hear that they have had a great day. Or rather, you assume that they did because “fine” usually means that nothing bad happened and there were no distress calls from the school.
They may have even been excited to see you (a luxury I only get a couple times a week, because being at Granny is way cooler than being with Mom. Mostly because Mom doesn’t give sweets. And Mom dishes out discipline with reckless abandon. And…). Flip, I digress. What I’m getting at is that they are happy, healthy and wonderful.
Which makes what happens next all the more confusing.
One second your kid is all giggles and cuddles and the next they’re sitting on the floor and screaming like someone just kicked them in the face. Except no one touched them. There were no warning signs. No cause. Just a complete freak out over nothing.
This actually happens to me regularly.
No man, I don’t sit and freak the heck out, my kids do.
In fact, it happened this past Friday, and while this kid screamed for (I’m not joking) 15 full minutes – I wondered what I had done to deserve this. Because really, no matter what the reason, listening to your kid scream for that long is draining and just frustrating. Plus, this ain’t my first rodeo. This tantrum thing, we’ve been doing it for years. Don’t believe me? Here’s a time I was bitten. Here’s another time I wanted to dissolve in the aisles of Woolies. Here’s how holidays make it worse. Why I used to sometimes cry myself to sleep at night. And how we’re slowly overcoming the tantrum monster and getting the better of it. Sometimes.
I’ve learned now not to intervene. I might walk over to them and just mention that when they want to chat about it, they can come and find me and we can hug it out. It’s a lot more effective than getting upset myself. Listen, I’ve been there, done that and the result is that we all just end up miserable and the tantrum goes from being 15 minutes to an hour. And really, ain’t nobody got time for that.
In this particular incident on Friday, after we’d hugged it out and things were calm again, I queried what was happening and why they were feeling so upset. They didn’t even know what to tell me, because there was no actual reason.
Or so it seemed.
Last night we went to a parent teacher talk at Knox’s school. They spoke about how hard our children have to work all day. We think it’s so easy – playing, eating snacks and hanging out with our friends but we forget that they are little. Working their bodies is hard, listening to the rules is tiring and we all know that sharing may be caring, but it’s not a childs first choice. All day they’ve been holding themselves in while working those little bodies and minds. By the time they get home, they’re exhausted.
So they explode.
They do it with us because it’s their safe space. A space with people that they know will love them unconditionally despite their current attitude. A space where they can work out all those pent up emotions and just regroup.
I know I feel the same way after I come home from work. I don’t shout at my employee’s or flip my desk over in irritation at another thing going wrong in the day. That would make me a pretty freaking awful boss. But when I come home I know that I can let loose. I don’t flip tables, but I do need at least 10 minutes to just regroup over a cup of coffee. I can be myself at home and sometimes that’s a miserable ball of a person who just wants to climb onto the couch and eat Nik Naks until there’s a fine orange sheen across my entire face.
Our children need to be able to do the same. (Except without the Nik Naks because those are mine.)
Which is why I’m going to say that if your kid is throwing a tantrum after a long day at school, a busy morning or whatever (except like, being a chop of course) then you’re a great parent. You’re giving them that safe space that they need to be themselves and rid their minds of all those pent up emotions.
And no, it probably won’t make handling them any easier on you, but at least now you know why it’s happening!
At the very worst of it you can at least know that you are not alone. Somewhere out there, there is another mother going through the same thing – raising their glass of wine in a toast of all the fellow Mom’s blocking their ears and rocking in the corner of their safe spaces.