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Dec 2 2013

Torah MOMentary: Bible Drama Vs. Toddler Drama

By at 10:58 am

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This past Shabbat we read Parashat Miketz. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

Last week’s Torah portion, Miketz, is full of large-scale drama: fortunes rising and falling, pilgrimages for survival, power struggles, and internal journeys of the heart.

joseph and his brothers discover cup

Pharoah dreams of extremes: seven fat cows, seven emaciated cows. Joseph, called to interpret these dreams, rises from his prison cell to a position at Pharaoh’s side. The earth goes through seven years of plenty, then seven years of famine. Joseph’s brothers journey across a great desert to beg Pharoah’s assistant for grain, not realizing that Pharoah’s assistant is actually Joseph. Now in power, Joseph plays a game of cat-and-mouse with them, withholding his identity, alternating between public sternness and private weeping.

Yep, this is the stuff of great family drama. Will Joseph reveal himself to his brothers? How far will he go to punish his siblings’ past cruelty? How can siblings do this to each other?

Meanwhile, at my house, a different drama is playing out. I call it toddler drama. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 31 2013

Acting the Fool for the Sake of My Daughter

By at 3:57 pm

ducky

When I was giving my 11-month-old a bath the other night I immediately flashed back to an evening I spent with my then boyfriend, now husband, about seven years ago.

We had made plans to have a low-key evening in. I headed over to his apartment to find him going for a night swim with his roommates. I felt uncomfortable, out of place, and awkward. I thought this was going to be a night for the two of us. As I watched my guy and his pals having a great time in the pool, while I stood there dumbfounded, I saw five options:

1. Calmly express my frustration at the situation and request that my boyfriend get out of the pool and spend time with me.

2. Demand some respect and request that my boyfriend get out of the pool and spend time with me.

3. Head home in a huff, frustrated, annoyed, and disappointed.

4. Passive-aggressively tell my boyfriend to have fun with his friends…that it’s no big deal, I just drove over expecting us to have some alone time, but I’ll just go home and eat my feelings. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 18 2013

More from the Annals of Toddleritis

By at 12:59 pm

crying girl on floor tantrumI was totally feeling Jordana’s piece on Toddleritis. New York Times columnist Frank Bruni’s recent parenting critique? Not so much.

The childless Bruni considers modern parenting too indulgent and democratic. His self-described parenting credential is being Uncle Frank, but the gap between aunt/uncle and parent is like that between dessert and spinach. Kids enjoy aunt/uncle’s doting; they don’t test limits. It’s different with parents. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 9 2013

Diagnosis Toddleritis

By at 3:59 pm

toddler tantrumThe pediatrician looked in G’s mouth in a somewhat desultory fashion. “Maybe she’s getting her molars. Maybe.”

He was basically throwing me a bone.

I’d taken 20-month-old G to the pediatrician three times in the past week. Fine, that makes me sound a little crazy. Well, I’d become a little crazy. This was our “well” visit, and yet again, the doctor was telling me she was…well. Healthy, speaking well, unusually tall considering her mom’s genetic contribution. Everything was just as you’d want it to be, pu pu pu. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 19 2013

Dealing with Toddler Tantrums & Teen Tantrums All at Once

By at 3:08 pm

toddler having a tantrum in cribOne of my favorite pictures I ever took of my daughter came during a tantrum.

She wasn’t quite 3. We were in the middle of a family party with our best friends–and their two kids, the de facto cousins. My daughter had just hit her BFF. I scooped her into my arms and carried her upstairs for a time-out. A photographer friend once advised me that photos of crying people were always good to take, aesthetically (you can quibble about the morals). There my daughter stood in her crib in a white satin dress-up princess frock. Her face, framed by tired pigtails, revealed the sadness and regret just beneath the frustrated, overtired impulsivity. Her dark eyes were slick and teary and her rounded cheeks appeared rounder, all pouty. And the camera happened to be around my neck. She was so freaking adorable I had to sneak in one quick shot.  Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 8 2013

My Toddler And I Had Our First Fight

By at 2:01 pm

Every duo fights. It’s inevitable, especially when you’re always together.

Until recently, Lila and I have had a pacific relationship. But increasingly, I’m interacting with a rapidly evolving and independent little person. This is wonderful overall, but Lila is less predictable and more difficult to manage than she was only a month ago, stretching me as a parent (sometimes uncomfortably).

One recent evening, I picked up Lila downtown. She insisted on walking to the Metro. I pushed her stroller with one hand, using the other to navigate Lila along the sidewalk, while my heart nearly leapt out of my chest. Thankfully, Lila listened when I told her to stop, especially near street corners. Our journey home was mostly manageable until Lila sat in a busy street, while we crossed; I immediately scooped her up and said there would be no more strolling after dark. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 24 2012

Women Who Do It All: Doctor, Writer, Mother Claudia Gold

By at 12:30 pm

Claudia Gold is a pediatrician, writer, and perhaps most importantly, a mother. She took some time out of her busy writing schedule to share her experience negotiating the challenges of balancing family and work.

How many children do you have? How old are they?

I have a 14-year-old son, an 18-year-old daughter, and a 24-year-old stepdaughter.

What kind of work do you do? Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 21 2012

Should You and Your Kids Be BFFs?

By at 9:57 am

care bears bff forever“Daddy, you’re my best friend,” our 2-year-old told Scott a few weeks ago. So. Freaking. Cute. But was it good? I wondered.

I know Ellie is only 2 and that her concept of “best” might not be fully developed yet. But the notion as a whole got me thinking about the parenting books and articles I’ve read that state it’s more important to be your child’s parent than his or her best friend. The reason, according to the publications–my favorite among them being The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel, which draws on the Torah, Talmud and Jewish traditions–is that children need structure, boundaries and a reliable support system. More simply: your best friend doesn’t send you to time out. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 30 2012

When Your Toddlers Start to Act Like Teens

By at 9:03 am

little girl in heelsThere is a saying that the way your kids were as toddlers is how they’ll be as teens.  (Only bigger and louder and, in some places, with the legal right to drive.)

If that’s true, then we’re really in for some fun times over at my house.

When my oldest was a toddler, he didn’t talk much.  But–Bad Mommy confession–we really didn’t notice until our pediatrician got a concerned look on her face and started asking questions while taking notes and measuring the size of his head (boy had a really big head. Literally off the charts big. He still does). Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 3 2011

Trial By Fire

By at 10:56 am

Our cruise ship, post-fire. Yes. It was really really bad.

Sometimes being a parent feels incredibly overwhelming. The other day my daughter tripped and fell and landed on her chin, cutting her lip with her tooth. It wasn’t so bad as to need stitches, but man, that thing swelled up so fast! Trying to stay calm, get her calm, and get some ice on a 2-year-old’s lip was quite a challenge.

But when I face the tough moments of parenthood, I think back to life before I was a parent, back in the hazy days of when my husband and I first got engaged. A couple of weeks after the engagement, we took a cruise to the Caribbean. We were about three days into the cruise when, in the middle of the night, the ship alarm went off. Before we knew it, we were being told to get our lifejackets, hats, and long-sleeved shirts and report to our muster stations—this was an emergency of the highest level. Smoke was coming into the room and it was clear that the boat was on fire. My husband, being the wonderful romantic man he is, turned to me and said, “No matter what happens, I love you.” I responded, “Turn around and get the f*@% out of here!” (Yes, the boat was on fire. Luckily, we were fine and all of our belongings were fine. Others weren’t so lucky.)

What you’ll notice from this story is that I’m good in a crisis. (When we got home and I told my friends what happened, they universally said that if they had to pick anyone to be with on a burning cruise ship, they’d pick me. Who knew?) I keep calm, I analyze the situation, and I work toward a solution.

I’ve learned this even more now that I’m a parent. Because when you’re a parent, there’s a crisis happening almost all of the time.

Whether it’s a scraped knee, a missing stuffed animal, or the fact that suddenly your toddler hates strawberries with a passion so strong that she throws them across the room, life with a small child can quickly shift from everything being fine to tantrum mode. So how do you deal with the crisis? Deep breaths, assess the situation, and deal with it. And if you need to swear a little bit to get it done, I approve.

Oh, and another lesson I learned from the cruise? After you’ve been in a crisis situation, offer free wine or beer at dinner. You’ll make everyone a lot happier. Including yourself.

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