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Tantrums R Us

Sean has developed an adorable new habit. Tantrums. If anyone had asked, I would've happily told them that Sean was the easiest child I'd ever had. From the time he was born, he was a dream. Terrible twos? Not my Seany! 

And then he turned three. (Cue the foreboding music.)

My perfect little Sean has been able to muster a decent tantrum at a rate of about twice a week for the last month or so. Sean, being Sean, he really likes to excel at everything he does. This means that a proper tantrum involves screaming, yelling, stomping, crying, and turning all shades of red. He actually gets to the point of losing complete control of himself. I'm fairly certain that he's lost all touch with reality when he's in the throes of a monstrous meltdown.

For the most part, the other kids never really threw too many tantrums. That's not to say it didn't happen. Lucy once cried for four hours straight when I refused to buy her a toothbrush at the grocery store. (Don't let her quiet nature fool you - that girl is stubborn as hell.) Granted, I've developed a weird sort of parenting amnesia as each child progresses past certain stages, but I can't recall any of the kids going through this tantrum phase for any length of time.

There is a recent event that inspired this post. Last Friday, after I dropped the three oldest children off for school, I asked Sean if he wanted to go get a snack. We popped into our favorite little convenience store so I could grab a coffee and Sean and Charlotte could get a treat. Normally, this treat is a muffin, donut, or a granola bar. While I poured my coffee, Sean and Charlotte had stumbled upon the Devil Dogs. I almost caved in and said yes to the Devil Dogs when Sean quickly tossed the package back and ran to the ice cream freezer. 

Any other day, I could've told Sean that we don't eat ice cream at 8:30 in the morning and he would've agreed. Not this day. Apparently, being told no ice cream meant it was time to channel his inner Linda Blair.  He turned all shades of red, stomped and shouted about wanting ice cream. While there wasn't any head-spinning, it was still a fabulous show for the entire store. 

I was very proud of myself. I told him sternly that he could choose another treat or get nothing at all. He continued to pitch a fit while I calmly finished preparing my coffee and picked out a snack for a very bewildered Charlotte. I went to check out, trailing a tiny monster behind me. The poor cashier tried to tell Sean that ice cream would give him a tummy ache. At this point he'd lost all touch with reality and just screamed. There were lots of stares. I could have shut him up instantly with an ice cream, but he's got the wrong parent if he thinks that's going to happen.

So... I ignored him. He tried to block me from leaving the store, but, I pushed right past him. The parking lot posed a new problem, however. Sean decided to try to run back into the store for the much-coveted ice cream. Safety-wise, ignoring him was no longer an option. I put Charlotte on one hip (while holding my coffee in that hand) then scooped Sean up around his middle with the other hand. There's nothing like a flailing child to kick off the day. I wrangled the kids (and the all-important coffee) and grew an extra set of hands to fish the car keys out of my pocket. Then I unceremoniously threw Sean (not an exaggeration) into the car.

Once Charlotte was safely buckled, I asked Sean (who was now crying on the floor of the backseat) if he needed a hug. Believe me, the last thing I wanted to do was hug the little brat child, but I knew he needed help coming back to reality. He fell into my arms and settled right down. He was then able to agree that ice cream is not a breakfast treat and that he shouldn't have carried on the way he did.

While I still haven't ruled out demonic possession, I'm hoping this is just a normal (and fast-moving) three year-old phase. Anyone out there have any tantrum-stopping tactics? Or the number for a priest who does exorcisms?


I was going to add a picture of Linda Blair from The Exorcist, but I scared the crap out of myself when I Googled the images. I'm still way too freaked out by that movie. I blame my parents for making me watch that at such a young age.

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Super Earthling said...

Holy cow!!! While being truly sorry for what you're going through (yikes!), I must apologize for finding your post downright hilarious at the same time. :)

BTW--my daughter still blames me and her dad for telling her to look at the TV when Linda Blair's head was doing the 360. LOL

Lissie said...

No, you're absolutely right - it IS funny! The contrast between his normally sweet disposition and the nuclear meltdown kid is huge.

As a kid, I absolutely begged my parents to let me watch The Exorcist. After it was over, I cried inconsolably and was mad at them for making me watch it. I'm scarred for life.

Anonymous said...

I always thought that 3 was worse than 2. I admire the way you handled it. Not so sure I would've been so kind!

IT Guy said...

"I could have shut him up instantly with an ice cream, but he's got the wrong parent if he thinks that's going to happen."

Good job - that is exactly what I would have done. I also might have thrown him through the window rather than opening the door, but I would not recommend that extreme version of parenting - tends to get the social services people involved, and that is NOT a good thing.

Lissie said...

One of my parenting goals has always been to avoid involving the authorities! ;)

Gia said...

Ha, yikes! Demon possessive is never fun...

Anonymous said...

I've had a couple of monster phases with our 4 children and I've found it often has to do with growth spurts/getting too hungry. Once my 4-year-old started walking down the block he was in such a tizzy. (He literally never went anywhere by himself at that age!) I actually had to force some applesauce in his mouth and then he almost instantly calmed down.

He has no lingering issues involving his health (blood sugar or diabetes), I just think he was growing and got too hungry and it turned him into a monster.

This too shall pass . . . :-)