Monday, March 26, 2012

Tantruming mess

I can't shake this horrible weight all day long. I'm feeling lonely and different and damaged beyond repair and unfit for other humans to connect with.

Today, my husband wouldn't let me have the computer immediately when I requested it, and I just lost it. I started screaming, howling, raging, hitting myself in the face, sobbing and punching the bed. His "OK, OK, have the computer!" sounded funny, because it was so obvious at that point it wasn't about the stupid computer.

It was about starting to react emotionally like a toddler. Like I was never allowed when I was an actual toddler.

My "father" revealed as much when my toddler tantrumed after not being allowed to play with a knife. I held her and gently told her "Sorry, but you really can't have it" as she shrieked and cried (she's very vocal and determined).

He was confused by my actions and said something like "She must learn that she can't have everything she wants, you know," and I said "Yes, all children learn that - by not getting everything they want," a bit baffled - after all, I wasn't letting her play with the knife just because she cried. But he insisted that children needed to learn ... what was it he said? Not to want things? Not to demand things? Not to object? Not to have desires? So they don't suffer when life doesn't give them everything they want.

That gave me the creeps. First, because of the obvious "don't have desires and if you do, don't express them" script that I live by that was promptly explained. Second, because he never said it and I didn't dare ask: how does one train a toddler not to have and express desires? What did they do to me? Did they beat me into submission until I showed no more emotions? Did they stop my emotional development right there, at the beginning of toddler tantrums?

And now, at almost 30, I'm a tantruming mess. A grown woman, wife and mother of two, at the emotional level of a toddler.

And that's progress.


  1. Big (((hugs))) for toddler PA! Yes, feeling your feelings is progress. You have to get to emotional health in your own good time.

    Isn't it amazing how our own kids end up shedding light on our childhoods? I had a couple of similar interactions with my mother when one of my sons was two. One happened at his own 2-year-old birthday party. We had a family party - my parents, my siblings/spouses/children. The birthday boy was totally freaked out by having so many people in the house, and he totally lost it, cried the entire party. My mom kept making comments about how he "had to learn" and how he needed to be sent to his room. Shamefully, I did put him in his room for a while. Guess what, being isolated doesn't help a kid to feel secure. I chided myself for such callousness and held him the rest of the party. My mother continued to share her disapproval of how we were spoiling him - you know, because it's so awful for parents to hold and comfort a two-year-old when they're feeling threatened. Poor kid. The next time was at a family party a few months later. My 2 y/o napped in the car and woke up at his cousin's house, and cried and cried. I stayed with him for a while, then carried him down to play in the yard. My mother, walking alongside me, told me how he needed to be punished for his behavior. I told her straight out, "that sounds mean, to punish a child for feeling scared and overwhelmed." I think she rolled her eyes at me. :P

    I continue to find that the toughest ages of my children are the same ages at which my mother messed up the most. I feel so unequipped to parent through stages in which I myself wasn't adequately parented.

    Sometimes I think a Nparent's disapproval is actually the best sign there is that you're on the RIGHT track.

  2. It is! Wow, that's crazy. Well, everybody tantrums. You wouldn't punch a kid for stomping his feet, neither would you an adult. That's the same. I don't think you're a toddler. I think what you did was awesome. Emotions are emotions, you don't grow out of them.

  3. PA it really is progress. I am experiencing some similar tantrums. I was able to watch my parents in action and discovered that the 'training' was a systematic process of denying what the child needs. Not what they want, what they need, like food, using the bathroom, getting enough sleep. Kind of thing you read about and can't believe somebody would do that to a child to teach them a lesson. I am also learning to nurture my emotional toddler to find out what the tantrum is really about. You are already changing history by treating your child differently. Take care.

  4. To me it sounds like something is bothering you and this is how it came out.I don't see this as you having a tantrum.


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