I wake each child up and the youngest one is raspy with a runny nose, so I decide to keep her and Drew home with me and send the older two to church with their dad.
I head back to the kitchen, open the refrigerator to retrieve milk and chocolate syrup, and discover no milk. It's then that I remember I didn't make it to the store yesterday and we drank the last of the milk last night.
But I spot two caprisuns and I think they will like that, so I offer them to Drew and Madeline. Madeline is happy, however, Drew is not.
"I want chocolate milk!" Drew cries.
"I'm sorry, Drew. We used the last of the milk last night. But I'll buy some more today so you can have some later."
"I want chocolate milk!" He persists throwing himself prostrate on the floor pounding his fists.
"I'm sorry, Drew. We'll buy more later."
Knowing there is no reasoning with him, I simply set the caprisun down and walk away to give him some time to work it out on his own.
Tantrums are never easy to contend with, but as I walk down the hall, I remember the statement I read in Raising Great Kids a few years ago. The statement that encourages parents to empathize with their child's struggle because this stage of life is hard on them, as they are expected to transition from completely self-centered to thinking outside of themselves.
His rage, defiance, or whining may be hard on you. But your child is in lots of pain himself - that's why he is protesting. Your child has to give up an entire way of looking at life. ~ Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
I wonder how I can help him, when my explanations and solutions only instigate retaliation, yet I know leaving him alone in his three-and-a-half year old distress is not the answer either.
I'm wandering aimlessly through the next room as I recall what we've done with every other tantrum we've encountered over the years.
And I contemplate how I can give him what he might want even more than that chocolate milk.
Then I walk back over to him.
Still crying into the carpet, fists pounding, I squat next to him.
"Drew, can I hold you?"
"I want chocolate milk!" he bellows into the carpet.
(I wait a couple of seconds)
"Drew, are you ready for me to hold you?"
"I want chocolate milk!"
(I wait a couple of more seconds)
"Drew, mommy is going to pick you up now."
I lift him up and bring him in close to me.
He lets me.
Yet, he's still crying on my shoulder, "I want chocolate milk!"
I walk him over to the couch and sit with him nestled into me.
He then pulls back, looks over to the table I had set the caprisun on and cries, "I want a caprisun."
"Okay," I thankfully comply.
I set him aside and stand up to retrieve the caprisun, punch the straw into the pouch and hand it to him.
"I want you to sit with me," he whimpers.
And I do, as he slurps his caprisun down and tosses the pouch aside.
And I continue to, as he watches an episode of the Backyardigans with his little sister, who leans into the other side of me.
And everything is okay again, because more than the things our children throw fits over, as much they may seem to push us away over these matters, we are what they really want more than anything.
They don't want our reasons, excuses, or explanations.
They don't care that much about the thing they can't have, really.
They want us at the very core of their distress - our time, love and affection.
They want our acceptance, approval and affirmation.
And this, with proper, intuitive timing, could be the solution to just about any distress in a child's life.
Continuing to count gifts of gratitude with Ann today:
two lovable bodies on either side of me, pressed in
a visit from my dad
family water fights
oysters with friends
friends loving on my children
having everything I could possibly want right here in front of me
and going deeper to see more of all that is before me
Sharing with A Holy Experience, Finding Heaven, The Better Mom, The Wellspring, Graceful, A Pause on the Path, Works for me Wednesday, Women Living Well, and Raising Arrows