The Oven Wasn’t Cool, Sylvia, but I Feel You

Saoirse has been in a bit of a temper tantrum phase, if you will (I wish you wouldn’t.  Maybe they’d stop, then).  The slightest blips in the radar of her world will set her off, and there’s no predicting them.  She’ll be happy as a seal on a seashore one moment, and the next acting like the mean ol’ angry shark that just came in to eat the seal for dinner.

The best option for us right now seems to be to remove her from the situation until she calms down, because there is absolutely no talking to her/reasoning with her/begging to stop the crying already until she tires out.  It’s like a person who drinks too much out at the bar one night, and it’s only when he’s hanging over a toilet with a pounding head the next morning that he first feels those awful pangs of remorse.  SK, after the tantrum, has a period where she tries to figure herself out.

This morning, I put her in a room after she pitched a fit because Quinn was playing with a bib (Huh?, you ask.  I did, too).  This was after she kept hollering, “No!  No!”  and crawled across the room (who knew a 3-year-old could move so quickly on her hands and knees…) into a corner before I could pick her up and get her upstairs.  At this point, she’d upset Quinn so much that she was crying.  Good times, I tell you.  Moments like these are what expectant parents dream about while they decorate the nursery.

After some kicking at her door, hollering “This isn’t very nice!!” and what sounded like bouncing off her closet door repeatedly, Saoirse calmed down.  Quinn, at this point, had crawled over to the bottom of the staircase, staring up, and was calling “Yaaaa-yaaaa!” for her big sister.  I was thisclose to curling into fetal position in a corner of the bathtub and crying into the drain.  It was 8:25 in the morning.

Afterward, SK asked to watch Clifford.  I said no.  “But I want to ‘pologize, Mom.  Please, can I watch Clifford?”  

The answer was still no.  Then she had to help me get out of the bathtub.

A little later, I was putting in a load of laundry (This is why they only make “Real Housewives” shows about rich socialites, of course.  The lives of really real housewives don’t exactly make for good TV).  The door to the laundry room was open into the playroom, but I could only hear SK playing on the other side with Thomas the Tank Engine and company, not see her.  I was in the midst of sorting her little, tiny, sweaty clothes when I heard,

“Mom?  I try to stop ‘bismehaving,’ but I can’t.”

I dropped the laundry and came out, oh so casually, into the doorway.  “Well, I know it’s hard, honey, but you need to try. ”

“I know,” she replied, still concentrating on Thomas.  “It’s hard.  I don’t know how to stop.  How can I stop?”

I wish I knew, kid.  A couple of weeks ago, in a moment of desperation, I actually taught her Pilates breathing (inhaaaaale through the nose, blow out through the mouth) to help her get out of her hysterics.  It worked like gangbusters for a little while, but now she’s abandoned the practice in favor of heaving giant mounds of tears while I kneel in front of her like an idiot, imploring “Do your breathing!  C’mon, do your breathing!”  She just gets into the middle of these fits and has to find her own way out.

Yesterday, I’d taken a sopping wet Saoirse inside the house after she’d gotten upset about a pool toy and launched a scream that made the birds vacate the local trees like they were on fire.  After the shivering girl had calmed down and we’d had a chat, she was back in the pool with her dad while I sat in a chair, telling myself that self-medication was not the answer.

“Look, I stopped crying,” I heard her say.  “I’m not crying anymore.  I’m happy.”

She swam a little more, happily playing with the toy boats in the water.  Then, “Why was I crying?”

Oh, it’s really, really hard sometimes to be the parent of a three-year-old.  But I have to figure, it’s gotta be a lot harder to be three.

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