Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Well-Timed Tantrum

Things were going well between Jack and me last night. After work, he and I went running together. That is, the first part of the run was done in the jogging stroller. Then, on the way back, we stopped at the park and he ran around the baseball diamonds yelling "You can't catch me!" like a maniac. This is probably a good time to note that he was wearing his Superman costume at the time, delighting in the way the cape billowed behind him. Afterwards, we had dinner together while watching Beauty and the Beast: Enchanted Christmas, which we got from the library as a special treat. My boy loves princesses.

When the movie was over, it was time to go to bed. I quickly discovered that it was really time to go to bed, because Jack hit the wall. He bonked. Or, if you're thinking of him as a little kid, and not a runner, he had a tantrum.

The tantrum began because he didn't want to go to bed, he wanted to eat ice cream. I said no to the ice cream because he hadn't eaten enough of his sandwich, but gave him an opportunity to eat more sandwich, thereby earning ice cream.

But the tantrum quickly spiraled out of control so that pretty much everything was setting him off. He wanted ice cream and he didn't like his sandwich but he did want his sandwich and I shouldn't throw it away and he was upset because his nose was running and because I couldn't get him a tissue fast enough and because he wanted to pick out his own pajamas and no he didn't he wanted his favorite Spidey ones...

And, infinity.

Eventually, he got fed up and asked me to leave him alone. I honestly thought that was a good idea, and not just because I wanted to ditch his crazy ass. I told him to come get me when he was feeling calmer, and that I'd be in the study. I was checking my email and listening to the crying in the next room when the phone rang. Steve!

Steve was in a great mood, due in part because he was a little drunk. We chatted, and I told him briefly what was going on. Then, I asked if he would talk to Jack. Not to solve things, but to possibly interrupt the cycle of freaking out.

I put Jack on the phone, and he alternated between telling Daddy about the things that were upsetting him (including "I wanted ice cream" and "I did not listen to Mommy") and telling him about his day ("Mommy and I went running and our shoes got dirty" and "Grandma and I made pizza"). All of it was covered in a thick layer of tears and snot, so Steve only understood "ice cream" and "wah."

So, no pattern interrupt. I forged ahead, and got a toothbrush into his cry-hole. Minutes later, the phone rang again. I figured it was Steve, so I had Jack answer the phone.

Jack asked, "Daddy, is that you?" several times in a teary, pitiful little voice. Finally, he said, "It's not Daddy" and handed the phone to me.

"Hello, may I speak to Mrs. Elizabeth Way-sur?" asked a heavily accented voice.

Yes, my name is Elizabeth, but nobody ever calls me that. And my last name is not Way-sur, rhymes with laser, but Wasser, rhymes with, um, tosser. There's only one kind of person who would call me Mrs. Elizabeth Way-sur:

A telemarketer.

I told the guy that this was not a good time (a fact that should have been incredibly obvious) and hung up the phone. It was pretty much the most awesome way to get rid of a telemarketer ever.

I hung up the phone and explained to Jack in terms a three-year-old can understand what a telemarketer is and why they are annoying ("No! I don't want any aluminium siding!") and how he saved Mommy from having to talk to the guy.

This cheered him up considerably, so after a couple of high fives and a bedtime story in which Remy from Ratatouille meets Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Jack, and Roary on his way to buy cheese, then gets rid of a telemarketer, he was fast asleep.


Non-Runner Nancy said...

You are WAY patient!! Way to ditch the telemarketer in the process.

Marcy said...

OH My GAWD! I'm am soooo LMAO!


"honestly thought that was a good idea, and not just because I wanted to ditch his crazy ass."

I know it's never fun dealing with tantrums, but dang you make it so funny!

the weirdgirl said...

I FEEL your pain!

I'm finding that book, Taming the Spirited Child really helpful, btw. It really hones in on tips for kids who are extra creative, persistent, etc. And your son's imagination cracks me up!