A lot of mommy skills seem mundane, like wiping noses and butts, but I’m convinced that some mommy skills make you better at life.
Case in point: the toddler tantrum. This morning started out typical. When I went to wake up Sully, he rolled over and told me he wanted to stay in bed “eleven more hours.” I put my attention on getting the other two ready and I finally got him out of bed a few minutes before we had to be out the door.
“Look, I got Buzz for your butt,” I said as I pointed out the Toy Story underwear.
“No! I want Woody AND Buzz.”
Thankfully, I had just done laundry and I had every possible option of underwear at my disposal.
I was able to get him to use the bathroom and get dressed without too much trouble. I even got them all out to the car okay. I strapped in Colin and went around the car to help Sully and then things went terribly wrong. You see, I didn’t know that Sully wanted to buckle himself in this morning.
The entire ride was filled with hysterical screaming. I live 5.15 miles from my sister-in-law’s house. You wouldn’t believe how long that can feel with a screaming child. I didn’t say a word. When we got to her house, he refused to exit the car. I was carrying Colin and somehow managed to lift him, too, and put him on the ground, despite his death grip on the carseat. We were parked across the street and I was terrified he would just sit down in the middle of the street. He didn’t; apparently he hasn’t figured out that trick yet.
The whole time he was screaming, “I don’t want to go to Tia’s, I want to stay home!”
My standard response is (very calmly): “I’m so sorry that you feel that way but there is nothing mommy can do about it. I have to go to work and you can’t stay home alone until you’re 13.”
I got them all in the house, kissed them all, and left. Sully was face down on the floor still screaming when I left.
I had to laugh, a few minutes later, when I passed a sign on an overpass that read, “Prevent road rage, don’t engage.” My new mantra is going to be: prevent mommy rage, don’t engage.
The skills required to deal with a toddler tantrum transfer well to other aspects of life because adults have tantrums, too, and usually for the same reasons that children do: because they are overtired, over-stimulated, or have some sense of loss of control. And I’m convinced that some people are just crazy. When I deal with unreasonable adults, I just pretend I’m talking to my three-year old. I remain calm, I don’t engage, I restate the facts. It has served me well in life.
No matter how good I am at dealing with adult tantrums, I will never be as good as my husband. For your enjoyment, I have recounted my three all-time favorite tantrums and Mark’s response:
I walked into a messy kitchen. I started throwing dish towels and slamming cupboard doors as I yelled something about being sick of cleaning up the same crap every day. Mark yelled from the other room, “You might want to save some of that aggression for bowling tonight.”
I walked into a messy bedroom and started putting dirty clothes from the floor into a laundry basket as I begged Mark to start putting dirty clothes in the hamper. I yelled, “I am NOT your maid!”
“I know,” he replied, “I keep trying to get you to wear a maid’s outfit and you won’t.”
I was cooking in the kitchen and Mark left the water running in the sink. I asked him if he needed the water on and he said, “I left it on so you could rinse out that dish, but nevermind, I forgot that you don’t rinse dishes.”
“Do you want me to punch you in the face?” I asked (I have never actually punched anyone in the face, it’s just a phrase that I’m trying really hard to stop saying.)
“No, I want you to rinse out dishes when you put them in the sink.”