Do you remember throwing a temper tantrum as a child? If so, where were you and who calmed you down? Do you remember the reason for the tantrum?
I have one memory of such an event and thereâ€™s very little to it. I was at my fatherâ€™s parentsâ€™ house. I stood facing my grandpa, who was trying in vain to placate me. My young five/six year old self was having nothing to do with placation.
My parents had promised to be home soon and they hadnâ€™t come yet. Were they dead and no one had told me? Where were they and why werenâ€™t they here?
Neither Grandpa nor Granny could calm me down. I was furious, terrified that Iâ€™d never see my parents again, and I was headed for a complete meltdown. The end of my memory was where I kicked Grandpa in the shin as hard as I could and demanded he produce my parents â€śright now!â€ť
My mother, many years later, told me that she and Dad had remained in town to visit other relatives while my little brother and I went back to my grandparentsâ€™ home. She said that theyâ€™d been delayed for a couple of hours because of friends and other relatives taking up their time.
It seems like a simple enough explanation, and one that probably would have worked on an older child who wasnâ€™t terrified that her parents were lying dead somewhere along the road. I never bought it, she said. Their excuse was never accepted by me. I believed, though I didnâ€™t want to, that theyâ€™d lied to me when they said theyâ€™d be home shortly.
Looking back on it now, from so many years into my own future, I can understand my fears and accusations. I quail to think of my striking out at that most gentle of men, my grandpa, even as I can fathom the depth of my feelings. I canâ€™t remember if I ever apologized for my actions that evening.
There are some fears that take precedence over logic. Fear of abandonment is a childâ€™s worst nightmare. Does a child ever outgrow that tendency to hang on so that the caregiver canâ€™t disappear? Does that fear develop from a toddlerâ€™s misperception that a person/thing disappears when no longer in view?
Iâ€™m sure I donâ€™t know the answer to that question. I doubt the experts do either. I do know that when I invest my trust and love in a person, I expect them to honor it and not throw me curve balls. Iâ€™ve always had that response in relationships, whether within the family or those outside of it.
Perhaps Grandpaâ€™s mistake in dealing with me and my fears was actually two-fold. He tried to speak to me in a reasonable tone and manner, and he didnâ€™t know where my parents were and admitted it to me. Grandpaâ€™s are, after all, supposed to be all-knowing, all seeing, and above all else, always right!
If I ever threw another tantrum, I donâ€™t recall it. Thank God! The recollection of this one has haunted me for enough years already.
4 Comments on Tantrums and Grandparent Woes, last added: 2/15/2012