MAMMA’S DIARY – DIARIO DI MAMMA
The photo above comes from a time before my son spoke to us. He really did not get a grasp for language until he was 4. Now that he’s 5, we’re still working on it. But the future is promising. Nowadays, I spend more time trying to convince him to be quiet for a minute than trying to get him to speak with me or worse trying to understand what he needs despite his silence. It’s a blessing and a curse, and I’ll take it.
Still, I can’t seem to forget the days when his inability to communicate led to the wildest tantrums, the stuff of poltergeist legends. One of the longest ones lasted more than six hours and consumed gallons upon gallons of my blood, sweat, and tears (literally). I may forever have nightmares. Since then, I’ve reflected and come to terms with the inevitable tantrums. Even kids, who speak on schedule and just fine, have ’em. I know because I’ve dealt with those of my niece and nephew, too. And I’ve studied the tantrum as though a doctor seeking a cure to a deadly disease. Ok, that’s somewhat hyperbolic, but that’s cool these days, so I’m not editing it. In fact, it might get this classified as fake news, which means more people might read it.
I digress. Anyway, here is the anatomy of a tantrum as I have observed:
- The Precursor – That moment when mom realizes the end of the world is approaching. In the early days, she won’t recognize the red alert until the first tear is shed. When she becomes more experienced, she will understand what’s coming as soon as someone offers her baby the blue lollipop when the child in line before him received red. She will know that if Aunt Jackie fails to wave to him from the window, then he will melt down literally. It will look like Frosty in Hawaii on its hottest day. And mom will be left to clean up the flood.
- Jello Shots – This next phase in the tantrum gets its name from the fact that mom will consider taking jello shots when this moment arrives but also because her baby will likely drop to the floor and all of his limbs will turn to jello. She will be unable to pick him up and take him away. Her face will turn as red as strawberry jello as she tries to pick up the gelatinous sack of flour otherwise known as her spawn in front of the crowd of people gathering. Indeed, spawn is the way she will describe her child in this phase of the tantrum. Now, sometimes, the tantrum happens at home. That is called good luck. Thank the heavens and try to ignore the wailing child. Lock yourself in the bathroom and eat your stash of chocolate while in there. Yep, every veteran mother has her goodies hidden in the bathroom or the closet. Your secret is safe with me.
- Cool Down – Once mom has gotten hold of the monster she once knew as a cooing baby, she will continue sweating from places she didn’t know she had. Her body will radiate enough heat to melt an igloo. And she will try bouncing the child, the one she can barely keep in her arms, on her hip. She will try whispering, “It’s okay, calm down. Mommy’s here.” She will ask the child to stop. She might try her stern, bad cop face. “Santa is watching,” or “You’re going to time out as soon as we get home.” People around her will either pity her, ignore her, or try to help. All these reactions will annoy mom like nothing else has ever annoyed her, including the still wailing child. But suddenly mom will get a hold of herself. Maybe she’ll bring the child to a bathroom and they’ll both throw some water in their face. Or a few deep breaths will bring her back to Earth. Or one of those helpers will actually help and distract the child long enough for mom to collect herself. Then, she will calmly begin to sooth her child, even if he’s being a spoiled brat. (Sorry, but sometimes that’s what the tantrum is all about.) She will explain why he can’t always have his way, kiss, hug, or cuddle him.
- No Warning Finish – At a certain moment, mom will be about to lose it all over again. And her child will simply stop. There will be no explanation. It’s probably just a result of pure exhaustion. But the storm will end. For five minutes all will be calm. Savor it. You don’t know when you’ll have this serenity again. Such is the life of a mother.
Di Meglio has written the Our Paesani column for ItaliansRus.com since 2003. You can follow the Italian Mamma on Facebook or Twitter @ItalianMamma10. For more handmade crafts and party gear, visit the Italian Mamma store on Etsy.