Saturday, November 06, 2004

High Degree of Difficulty

After more than four years of parenthood I have finally reached a point where I can enjoy the pure theatrical brilliance of my children’s tantrums.

At first these semi-regular meltdowns – which may be precipitated by catalysts as diverse as improperly microwaved macaroni and cheese or the completely absurd request that a child not wipe his freshly extracted boogers on the new carpet – caused me immense frustration. My blood boiled, in part because I thought my job as a parent was to not make the kids cry. Crying = bad. The more frequently the kids cry, the worse a parent I become.

I’ve grown out of that belief. I now believe that the more my children cry, the smaller my entertainment budget becomes. Why pay $9 to sit in a movie theatre when I can sit on my own couch and watch two supremely talented children cry and scream and pound the ground in performances that warrant Oscar consideration.

We had a good one this afternoon. When the sun set and the temperature dropped and the mud caked to Left-Handed Power-Hitting Son’s knees after a long day of outside play was starting to affect his ability to walk, I told him it was time to come inside. And so it began.

I liken these tantrums to a gymnastics routine. There are a series of compulsory characteristics – criteria that must be met to categorize the display as a tantrum. The rest is up to the children’s creativity, and this is where they soar.

We began today with the mount, which is a simple jelly-kneed collapse to the floor. A simple compulsory maneuver. From there he graduated to another fundamental step, the oh-my-god-my-life-is-ending wail, whereupon long periods of time elapse with no sound. When the silence ends, there is a long, forceful, throat-searing scream. And then more silence. If there were an Olympic gold medal awarded in this category, my son would be a national hero. He’s that good.

Trying to save ourselves from public humiliation, Hot Wife and I escorted our son to his bedroom and invited him to come out when he could calm down. When the door closed, Left-Handed Power-Hitting Son’s creativity began to take over. In a panicked, Rainmanesque litany of words, he tried his own twist on the tried and true “I have to go potty so let me out of here before I piss myself” routine. It went like this:

Waaaaaaaaahmommypeepeepeepeedaddypottypottypottywaaaaaahpeepee…[deep inhale]…aaaaaaahpeepeemommypoopoodaddyihavetogopeepee…

At this point, Hot Wife buckled. She re-entered his room and tried valiantly to keep the boy from hyperventilating, or worse, pissing himself. I listened from the next room and could hear the poor woman floundering. I intervened.

Here comes the dismount.

“Hey, buddy,” I said to him. “Do you think we should go have a piece of your Halloween candy?”


He lifted his head from his hands, a web of tears and snot left pooled in his cupped paws, and he smiled at me through his tears. He was happy again. Tantrum over.

The Austrian judge wept as he held up a placard that read 9.95. The Swedish, Dutch and Canadian judges also gave high marks. The scowling French bitch only gave him a 9.275, but we all got a good laugh from the hair in her armpits when she held up her score.


At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely love the way you write. You always make me guffaw at some point and that, sir, is quite a gift.

Thanks for always making me laugh.



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