I knew I was in trouble the minute I picked her up from daycare. Emy took one look at me and let out a heartbreaking wail, "No Mama, no! Buggy ride! Bugggggggggyyyyyyyy riiiiiidddde!" Needless to say, she was not happy to see me. I had interrupted her plan to go on a walk with her teacher and the few remaining kids.
Thankfully, this was her teachers' first time witnessing the sheer hysteria and stubbornness that my little darling can exude in the midst of a meltdown. Anyone who has raised a toddler, or even come across one in a shopping mall can picture what toddler temper tantrums look like - flailing, kicking, screaming, huge crocodile tears, refusal to be comforted - they're not pretty. Between babysitting, friend's kids, working in a grocery store, day camp, and teaching I'm no stranger to the meltdown.
However, I was completely unprepared for what it feels like when it is your child who is reacting so violently, you are certain she has been taking acting lessons from a young Linda Blair.
What I am noticing about Emy's tantrums is, while (THANKFULLY) they are not frequent, once one occurs, it is very hard for her to react normally to any other adversity for the remainder of the day. So after her cosmic display of disapproval at daycare yesterday, the remainder of the evening was a roller coaster of difficulty.
We both needed a reboot in the form of an early bedtime. I attempted to have her ready for bed by 7:15. Josh's arrival home in the midst of our preparations sent these good intentions out the window. The time Emy and Josh spend together in the evening is so important for the both of them and fills Emy with so much joy that I felt like a giant grouch trying to cut it short in order to get my (at the moment, not-so) crabby daughter to bed early.
8 o'clock rolls around and bedtime routine completed Emy and I head into her room for books and songs. The moment I kissed her goodnight is the exact moment she transformed from overtire toddler to "Somebody Call an Exorcist" nightmare. Hysterical crying, running to her bedroom door, pounding on the walls, ear-shattering screams, heart wrenching cries and sweetly articulated pleas for "One more book?" " Emy potty" and of course, "Daddy!"
As hard as I tried I couldn't keep it together. Upset, frustrated, and exhausted, I know I only made the situation worse by not remaining calm. As the hours (yes - HOURS!) passed, Josh and I had reached the bottom of our bag of negotiation tactics - and the end of our patience, I completely lost it.
"THIS ISN'T WORKING! AND DON'T SAY IT'LL BE OKAY, BECAUSE IT WON'T!" hollered in the general direction of my husband and in full vision of my daughter. After being a reprimand by Josh, I stormed downstairs to the basement for my own time out.
This whole event sent my perfectionist self into a shame-spiral of inadequacy. Emy hasn't "fought" going to bed in several weeks. Sure she'll procrastinate and try and sweet talk her way into staying up later, but she hasn't fought us. And she never fights Josh. Just me. What is it with daughters and fighting their mothers? (I am SO sorry Mom. I take it all back.)
15 or so minutes later Emy and Josh calmly walk downstairs and request my presence. It's bedtime - for all of us. One book, one song, and entwined we all fell asleep in our king-sized bed. Reboot.
How do YOU handle tantrums? Your own or your child's? Which is worse?