Candace Ganger

12 Things I'd Rather Do Than Watch My Toddler Tantrum

My son — who recently turned 5 — is a lot of things. A smart gamer (already), hilariously fast with quips you didn't see coming, compassionate yet stand-offish (an interesting mix, even for me), and he has these long, dark lashes he knows how to flutter just so. From the moment I first held him, he had me. Not just because he was a baby, but because he was my long-awaited baby. I'd go through hell and back for the boy, but there's a very long list of things I'd rather do than watch my kid throw a tantrum because, when he does, it's unlike any I've ever seen with his older sister.

When I think back to the high-risk pregnancy and traumatizing birth where the umbilical cord snapped and my son turned blue, it's hard to ever imagine a time I'm frustrated with the now precocious little darling I almost lost. Aside from his dramatic entrance, the miscarriages and infertility issues that pre-empted that pregnancy made him a highly-anticipated baby I couldn't wait to mother. I'm sure his 10-year-old sister doesn't always agree (and she knows how to throw her own special kind of fit), but for the most part, my son is a sweet, gentle kid who plays alone well and causes little disruption. That is, until he flips on us. It's usually caused by a missed nap (or string of them), waking too early, or afternoon fatigue, but the times he gives into one of those awful tantrums, I can't handle it.

While most kids assume the usual tantrum kicks, screams, and flails (including my daughter), my son takes a different approach. If he doesn't get his way over something, and doesn't feel like being as diplomatic as he usually is, the tantrum starts with those lashes and the old pouty lip. I might get a "please" and a smile. If I still don't cave (which, to be honest, is really difficult), he does one of two things: slumps over and says "OK, Mommy," in a disappointed tone (which obviously breaks my heart) or, he has a tantrum on steroids. He launches whatever he's holding, runs up the stairs, slams all the doors, lays on the floor with his feet propped up on the wall, and kicks until someone physically retrieves him. It can (and has) last an hour if I don't intervene. Even after it's all said and done and the dust has settled, it takes him a long time to really hear what I'm saying and calm himself. It's exhausting as hell and truthfully, because he's not usually that way, it's frustrating.


I've tried to do nothing a few times before, and though it's incredibly hard to listen to the chaos, ignoring it has proven to be the best solution (if I can stand it that long). Doing nothing is the thing that gets his attention the fastest so, despite wanting to rescue him, nothing it is.

Build Something With Legos

We own thousands of Legos. They're ground up in the carpet and I'm probably sitting on, like, nine, this very minute. I'm beginning to despise them. However, when he's throwing a fit, I'd rather go build something really cool he'll be envious over than watch.

Learn Calligraphy

It's really pretty, isn't it? Next tantrum, I think I'll give it a try.

Watch Daytime TV

I'm sort of over where my usual soap operas have gone, script-wise, and even still, I'd rather watch them all day than my son explode through the house.

Dance With My 10 Year Old

I dance with my kids all the time. The worst time for a dance battle is, apparently, when my 5 year old is already upset. Seems it makes him more upset because I've stopped hovering over him for a minute. This is exactly why it's the best time to dance.

Give My Son Whatever It Is He Wants (But I Won't)

Most would say I'm a pushover for my kids (especially him) and I'll take that as a compliment since I'm usually the disciplinarian as well, so the temptations to let him use the Playstation once I've told him not to is definitely there. Instead of watching him unravel, it'd be a lot easier to say, "OK, but just a few minutes," and maybe I've done that and maybe I' haven't so I guess we'll never know.

Adopt Another Cat

We don't need another cat. At all. I'd rather adopt one than witness my kid's tantrum, though.

Do Math Homework

Oy. I admit, I wasn't very good at math in school (I wish I had been) and now that I have kids, that didn't magically change. My 10 year old brings home the weirdest, most absurd homework that takes me hours to help her complete. still, I'd rather do that.

Bake Bread From Scratch

I love to bake. It's a great stress reliever, for sure, and especially when I'm stressed because of my son's incessant screaming and kicking.

Write About How Ridiculous It Is

It's unbecoming of the gentleman I'm trying to raise, so if I can write to my heart's content about the idiocy of these tantrums, I will. Maybe he'll catch up when he can read.

Run 32 Miles

I'm an avid runner who completed upwards of a 50k race before in the freezing cold near the windy waters by Chicago. It was grueling and took many hours to finish. I'd rather do it again than be part of another tantrum.

Debate Politics

A lot of my family and friends in town are on the opposing political fence than me and, even still, I'd rather sit at the table at go at it point by point with the most conservative heads than watch my son lose his cool one more damn time.

Mommy's tired and life's short. Can't we just skip the tantrum this time and, I don't know, do anything else? Just as I think it, he's here with those long dark lashes fluttering, hoping to redeem every negative image I've painted him in. That, or he wants a snack.

Yeah, it's the snack.