When was the last time you threw a temper tantrum? As a child, I was a master- I could stomp and scream and pound my pillow with the best of them. I even broke several objects, including a doll that belonged to my sister, at least that is what she tells me. I don’t really remember. Funny how that works.
I do remember stamping my foot in the bathroom while my mother prepared me for a nap. “I’m not tired!” I whined. It is true, you know, that Mother knows best.
When my kids were little, they kept the family legacy alive. One day, when Abby was four, I took her, Gabe and Elizabeth grocery shopping. We got through the entire store without incident, and were headed toward the home stretch in the Health and Beauty Aids section, when Abby spotted a rack of Care Bear sticker books. Of course, she wanted one. Of course, they were not in the budget.
When I refused her request, she decided to try another tact, and threw herself down on the floor, kicking and screaming for all she was worth. That girl had pipes! People came running from all over the building to see what the problem was. Gabe calmly sat in the grocery cart, munching bread through the plastic bag, while Elizabeth shoplifted from her perch in the pack strapped to my back. I wanted to crawl under the shelf of Q-tips, or swallow an entire bottle of Extra Strength Tylenol. I briefly considered leaving an entire basket of groceries where it stood to make a quick exit. I even considered buying the damned sticker book.
Instead, I quietly picked Abby up, plopped her on her feet and half-dragged her, kicking and screaming, through the checkout. As every parent knows, to let her win this battle is to lose the war.
Last week, an angry man yelled at me over the phone. He was frustrated because he wanted an afternoon appointment for his child, instead of an evening one. The evening was not convenient for him. He had other things to do.
Despite my explanation that there were no afternoon appointments left, he continued to scream obscenities over the phone. He finally ended with instructions to his wife, “Tell her I’m coming down there and I’m going to smash her f-ing teeth down her f-ing throat!” (His adjectives, not mine. Actually, I misquote. He did not say “f-ing.” He said the whole word. But my mother would have washed my mouth out with soap for words like that, so I refrain. Most of the time.)
In what world is it okay to make vile threats of bodily harm, just because you don’t get what you want? The police called it “criminal threatening” and asked if I wanted to press charges. His wife wanted to explain “their side of the story.”