Monday, July 21, 2014

Tantrums and the Technology Option

As Master Blackwell continues to grow and develop opinions and tastes he's being forced to form the corresponding tools to see that said opinions and tastes are met with the desired outcomes. 

For now, his ability to articulate that which he desires is lagging behind his emerging sense of what he does and doesn't want. 

In some cases he has developed workarounds that hit the mark for him.
Pictured: the #2 result of a Google Image search for the word "tantrum."
It makes no sense but, it's a panda standing in front of a Commodore 64
and, if that doesn't make you chuckle, what will?

For instance, he might not know how to say "I want to listen to 'All You Need is Love' by the Beatles." So, instead he says, "Beeels?! Love, Love, Love! "

One of his favorite foods is cottage cheese but he can't say that yet so he says "Kaah-chee! Kaah-chee!" when he sees the fridge door open. 

While he can say the word "No," he just as frequently makes an "essss" sound instead. 

To be clear, if he doesn't want something he'll reply like an enthusiastic snake shaking his head from left to right. 

"Hey buddy! You want eggs?"

"Esss! Essss!"

Some of these workarounds perform perfectly. The boy gets what he's looking for and mom and dad deliver with minimal fuss. 

And, like any toddler, his response to not getting his way is measured, well-reasoned and steeped in logic. 

When he wants to listen to a song, but it's time for dinner, the boy calmly nods at his mother or myself and willingly accepts his music-less fate. 

Which is to say, he would do this if he wasn't so busy turning as red as a beet, or kicking his feet, or screaming "No! No! No!" or simply dropping to the ground and sobbing — loudly. More often than not it's some combination of these. 

So, it seems our perfectly reasonable little toddler isn't perfect and is far from reasonable.

This, as we are told by experts and numerous parenting books, is very normal behavior. So, all we can do is cope and attempt to not enable or reinforce any bad behavior.

For us, these strategies and tactics are completely determined by location. 

If we're at home, we've got an expanded playbook that includes anything from ignoring the tantrum to mockery. (Kidding, I don't mock the boy. That would be cruel, though I'd be lying if I said the thought hadn't crossed my mind. Maybe he'd find the humor in it? Probably not.)

When we're out in public, the pool of available mitigation tactics shrinks considerably.

Let's say we're at Target and there's heavy foot traffic, which goes without saying because everyone — for reasons I don't understand but am nonetheless subject to — loves Target. 

I don't know if he knows how to play
this yet and, given how many people
profess to being addicted, I'd rather
not find out. 

Let's further say that we've got ten more minutes before we're ready to leave but the boy decides that's ten minutes too late and starts screaming bloody murder. 

The first fixer we employ is picking the boy up. This usually quiets him down and, frankly, we enjoy walking and holding him, though his 30 pounds can start to get heavy. 

If this doesn't work, we attempt to put technology on our side and out come the smart phones. Mrs. Blackwell's phone is equipped with kid friendly apps while mine has just about nothing he'd like on it, though he doesn't seem to agree as either phone will suffice.

Should all of these measures fail, we just pull the chute on the whole mission and get the hell out of Dodge. No one wants to hear a screaming, crying child when they're trying to absorb the majestic splendor of Target. 

So, one of us (usually Mrs. Blackwell) will retreat to the car with the crying and frequently flailing boy while the other wraps up the shopping solo. 

To be fair, this doesn't happen often. So far he's a mostly happy little boy and tantrums are infrequent. But when it's time to freak out, all bet's are off and Mrs. Blackwell and I are left shaking our heads from left to right muttering to ourselves, "Esss! Esss! Esss!" 

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