You wouldn’t think you’d be able to have a tantrum about lemon water. After all, the primary consumers of lemon water are spiritual women in their mid-40s and early 50s, and they’re not really prone to tantrums. Meltdowns and, you know, crying jags, but not tantrums.
We are solidly in the tantrum zone these days. Our nearly-21-month-old child has conceived a great passion for lemon water, and he’s added it to his list of things to have a tantrum about. It’s a growing list, and it includes noticing and not being able to have any product that is present on a supermarket shelf, and most things in the larder at home, including figs, apricots, apricot jam, waffles, eggs, and even water in a glass. If mommy is eating or drinking anything, it is worth having a tantrum about if it can’t be instantly shared, especially if it is lemon water. Many things that are invisible to the adult eye are good tantrum material. He can whip up a good tantrum about subtle temperature changes in the air or electromagnetic shifts that it would take an expensive machine to measure. He measures them and has a tantrum about them. If he is shushed, it’s cause for a renewed tantrum. Shoes on, or shoes off. Keeping the screen door open, or closed. Getting dressed, changing a diaper, being told not to throw things are all on the tantrum list.
We have read some books about this, and we’re told to be supportive, make eye contact, and let him work through it. This is especially useful advice to take in Whole Foods, while squeezing a screaming madman through narrow aisles, and people are staring. I generally give them a stupid smile, add an idiodic shrug to say ‘hey, what can do you do?’ and it’s clear to anyone in a four-aisle span in every direction that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, am out of my depth, and really should get into another line of work besides pushing angry toddlers around in strollers.
I am certainly ready to circulate a resume that does not include my vast and deep experience wheeling hysterically sobbing children around in public places, but I know, from my experience being a dad before, that this may very well go on for a while. If you have a sensitive child, like we do, he’s going to lose it for reasons that will be a mystery to his parents. All we can offer is big-eyed compassion, and when that fails, I offer distraction. Today, a vanilla Italian ice worked fairly well. Just don’t tell his mother I gave him one.
In his defense (and there always shall be a defense, especially after these words are read by mothers and grandmothers) he is forming thoughts in his mind faster than he can form words to express them, and he is getting a big honking molar coming in the size of Lake Michigan, and that’s good reason to think that your world is blowing apart, a molar like that, and if somebody can’t get you some lemon water fast enough that’s more than enough reason to ratchet up a window-rattling cry to rip parents’ souls out of their guts and stomp them flat with your little $50-shoe-clad feet. But now I’m probably being oversensitive, probably in the aftermath of paying $25 each foot for shoes that are barely three inches long and two inches wide.
Tiny shoes should not cost $25 each, but don’t get me going into my own tantrum about that, especially when I will need to buy new ones in about two months.