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Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Tantrums Contain Truths

At the Pittsburgh Children's Museum +Awesome Pghkids 
(This is a post from an outing this summer, but the lessons are universal!)

My kids are generally well-behaved. Because of that I'd become slightly cocky. I began to believe that public tantrums were avoidable and something that happened to other parents. Recently, I learned that public tantrums are simply what happens when extreme frustration and a public venue collide. And while there are certain things that you can do to minimize the likelihood that you will be involved in a public tantrum with your kids, chances are at some point, you will be the embarrassed mom who is yanking your kids out of some venue and once it has started, there is really nothing you can do to contain it.

Tantrums Are a Part of Parenting

Well, I guess you could beat your kids. However, I beating just leads to more crying.
Also, there is that incarceration risk that you face in light of the more protective child abuse laws so I wouldn't advise that anyway.

Since my daughter is nearly six and this was her first public tantrum, I have been very lucky. Some might suggest if she had received some private beatings she may not have had that one. Those people may be right, but that hasn't been our parenting approach. So, save yourself the effort and don't send me links or comments about the benefits of corporal punishment. I attended Catholic school. Both the nuns and my parents subscribed to the "Spare the rod. Spoil the child." approach to parenting. So, I know how it's done.

In any event, in hindsight I know that I am to blame for the tantrum. So, I should have to pay the price, even if I am the adult.

It all started when I asked my daughter to watch her brother at the top of the slide. The Children's Museum has a steep slide with a warning for those under five. I went to the top of the slide with him. However when I realized that he would be arriving at the bottom alone, I became afraid that he might run for it. I elected not to go down with him because I was wearing a skirt. My sister told me that I should have taken one for the team and risked exposing my underwear to the masses, I elected to wait below--preserving my dignity—ready for the photo op—and have my daughter ride down with him.

That seemed like a fine idea to me and to her. However, after a few moments she appeared down the slide without him. I chastised her and retrieved the baby who had lost his nerve. I told her that she was to stick to him like glue for the rest of the visit. She didn't like it, but she graciously complied until it was time to go.

When it was time to go, she became consumed with tears. We have a no crying in public rule. I told her that if she cried she wouldn't return to the Museum. She was incredulous. She probably would have called Bull---t on it, if she knew what that was. Because we have had a membership to the Museum since she was born, she probably thought that the likelihood of her never returning was as likely as her never going to the bathroom again. So, she cried even louder.

She cried like she had been robbed. She cried like somebody told her that Mattel had discontinued manufacturing Barbie dolls. She cried hard, loud, and with passion. She wanted to be heard. And I wanted to silence her. That was a conflict.

Tantrums Contain Reveal Truths

Despite appearing like she was out of control, she was lucid. Here's a peek into our exchange.

Me: Be quiet or you're not coming back.

Her: You and daddy tell me to stop crying. But, crying is good! It's a feeling!!!

Me: Come on!

Her: I don't want to come on! We didn't go to all of the rooms like we usually do. Why can't we go back?! The Museum isn't even closed!

Me: Let's go. You need to think about leaving your brother. One of your obligations in life is to take care of him.

Her: Really?! Kids shouldn't be in charge of babies!!! Adults should be in charge of babies!

Her: I wish I didn't have parents or a brother. Then, I could play all of the time and do whatever I want to do!
Then, silence. 

As I listened to her, I realized that while she was acting inappropriately she was mostly right. I had placed too much responsibility on her. I kept my game face on and we left. However, I started to think that I was the one who had the bad day...

That said, we'll probably be returning to the Museum this weekend. After all, we do have a membership...

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