Saturday, July 12, 2008

Surviving Those "Sudden Squalls"

Had lunch recently with another late blooming mom (to two preschoolers) and we were discussing tantrums and fits... because when you're the parent of a preschooler, that's what you wind up talking about. We were commiserating about how sometimes, no matter how hard we try to avoid tantrums -- feeding our kids before they melt down, or getting them home in time for that crucial nap -- sometimes the kids just gotta let fly. She referred to these unstoppable tantrums as "sudden squalls" and I nodded my head in recognition: what a perfect expression of what our kids do. Like a fast-moving, brief rainstorm, these tantrums or fits come with little warning, and they don't last that long (if we're lucky), but they are mighty, mighty bad weather.

Lately Thing 1 and Thing 2 have been subject to sudden squalls two, three, even four times in a day. Kicking is sometimes involved (thankfully, not us or each other, but the floors, walls and doors are taking a beating). Screaming almost certainly is. And the main issue seems to be that they want something they can't have, or don't want to do something they're supposed to. But sometimes it's hard to say just what a particular squall is about ... other than getting home from preschool after a long day, and deciding that, in the safety of home, it's simply time to be impossible.

What's a parent to do? My lunch companion pretty much deals with them the same way Late Blooming Mom does: ignore and endure.

Fits and tantrums are, according to most of the childcare books in the growing pile of them on my night table, age-appropriate behavior for preschoolers, part of the territory, something to be expected. Some of them are going to happen because parents are trying to set important limits (no, you cannot have a cupcake before dinner, and yes, you must take a bath tonight). Some of them are going to happen because you simply can't always get home in the nap window, and over- tiredness is going to kick in. Or because you forgot a snack for that trip to the park. Some way or other, they're going to happen.

I don't know at what age kids outgrow having sudden squalls -- let alone a four-squall day. I'm sure I had my share of them (maybe more -- control-freak Virgo that I am). But I do know this: every time I watch a sudden squall hit a kid at the park, the mall, or in a restaurant, I feel -- well, first I feel glad it's not my kid, for once -- but I feel strangely comforted. That squall means I'm not alone. And it also means, next time one of my kids is squall-ing, I know that this, too, shall pass.

No comments: