Tales of the Tantrum-expected

Today I experienced what I am going to call a ‘running tantrum’ This raised the bar tantrum-wise from a throw-yourself-on-the-floor-screaming to a run-as-fast-as-you-can-while-screaming-and-losing-it.

Why was he losing it?

We were in the North Harbour Reserve and he wanted to climb on the rocks that tumble down into the sea. I did not want him to do this because he could either fall down said rocks, break neck and/or drown in said sea (worse case) or fall down rocks hurts self, nearly drown and cause me to have to get into the sea in my jeans. (Not so bad but still didn’t want it to happen ta everso).

But the dogs that he was chasing (another story) were jumping down over the boulders and into the sea. It was imperative for The Boy to not only FOLLOW DOGGIES but JUMP WATER. In the frontal lobeless brain of my son me not letting him drown to death was a parental restriction too far. What a bitch I am.

So I carried him screaming and writhing back to the playground. (Yes my dear physio – this is why I can’t rest my injured shoulder.)

Not to fear – he was very quickly able to find the one other thing in the park that was dangerous – the small cliff face by the side of the playground. He swiftly climbed up the rocks at the side of the cliff to stand in the scrub at the top of this 4 metre drop. And when I say climb I mean run up in some weird how-the-fuck-is-he-doing-that toddler-skills way I only saw a bit of it as I was scrabbling up behind him.

So gripping his hand in mine down we went – so now there were two areas of great interest that were off limits.

‘Oh lets go on the swings? Swings’ I said hopefully.

He gives me the are-you-demented? look. And yanks at my hand to get another go on the cliff. I pull him away towards the path trying to avoid the mass of other parents trying not to stare (ones with young children) and those with mouths twisted in sympathy (ones with older children) He starts screaming again. The screaming tantrum transform into this new beast – the running tantrum.

Stamping his feet and crying he sprints for the cliff. I set of after him, grab him and pull him back. I let go.

He screams and runs again. I just get to him before he makes the base of the cliff. I try and hold him still next to the pushchair. He twists and pulls him arm windmilling around in the dust by the side of the path. I have to sort of twirl my arm with him to avoid dislocating his shoulder. A women with a baby walks by and gives me a wonky smile. Her daughter is soft and compliant in her arms.

Time passes. More windmilling. More awkward twirling.

A kindly old dude walks passed.
‘Not a happy boy.’
‘No indeed’ I say
‘It is very hard but it does pass,’ he says smiling with crinkly eyed concern.

At this point The Boy is pulling so hard that I can almost feel his arm come out of his socket.

So I try to put him in the pushchair. Sometimes this calms him down after he realises he can’t get out. Not this time. He has learnt at that moment to escape the straps. Fuck you straps. In one flash he’s off running screaming all the while.
I am stuck. I seriously DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO.

So I run after him and grab him. I carry him back to the pushchair. I sit on the path cross legged. I hold him firmly in my lap facing out. He screams and arches his back, trying desperately to get away. I can feel how fast his heart is beating. I don’t want to hurt him. But I can’t let him go. I wait. A group of younger women step around us. They are holding coffee cups and avoiding looking at us. Child-free. Smooth of brow. Clean of t-shit. Lucky as fuck.

His anger peaks in a flurry of twisting and arching and the storm passes. He goes soft. The wind blows a  gust across the path and I get breath of cool air on my burning face.
‘Cuggle. Cuggle mama.’ he says and turns to put his arms around my neck. He looks so confused and hurt. His little damp face presses into my check. I feel a surge of pure love.

It’s OK. I say. It’s OK.

I don’t know if I’m talking to him or to myself.


  1. Rachel Wight · ·

    In the end you coped, well done. Still looking forward to seeing the monster Boy and being with him, looking after him and even experiencing his tantrums first hand.

  2. alex brice · ·

    Fantastic – I heartily empathise & reckon you should demand an evening massage for your aching shoulder/back/mind! 

  3. Nana Winnem · ·

    His little frontal lobes don’t get BOUNDARIES yet. Just Mum spoiling his fun. And fun is the word, not safety and security. Hang in there Jen. You’re the legitimate and rightful winner of THE POWER STRUGGLE for many, many years to come. And, fuck the audience. They’re not judging you. They’re just thinking “I’m glad that’s not me”. Spirited kids are a big challenge but what marvelous little characters they are.
    I loved the ending of this epic event where Mum triumphed and glad it was happily resolved and the little Viking realized that he’d lost the battle -this time…….

  4. Thanks for your kind comments and support. One friend messaged me to say ‘I think you’re holding him like that was a brilliant piece of instinct and mother love.’ which was lovely to hear. It is hard to ‘follow your instincts’ when you are ‘freaking out.’

  5. Sophie · ·

    Sounds to me like you’ll have to bring him to The Castle as soon as you get back – he obviously has the same climbing urges you had. Look forward to seeing you.

  6. Sounds like a plan to me’

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