Parents publicly discuss "tantrums" with each other like only kids have them, but we all know that's some straight-up bullshit. I've probably thrown twice as many tantrums as my kids have over the course of their lives.
I hate it, and I'm not proud of it, but there's a certain dark magic in just surrendering to that spiraling loss of self-control. The adult temper tantrum is often too compelling to resist, and at once immensely satisfying and deeply shame-inducing.
Today's adult tantrum is brought to you by Paige and sponsored by Lego.
Paige had long ago assembled this Lego airplane, but somehow in the widening gyre of shit that swirls through her bedroom like Jupiter's permanent superstorm, it had broken up a bit. Now she was demanding my help putting it back together, and she wasn't exactly being polite about it.
Quite the opposite. She was criticizing my efforts as inadequate, and whining incessantly in frustration. I told her she had a friend over, and should just forget about it. (Pro tip: having a friend over during an imminent adult temper tantrum always raises the stakes because (a) you might traumatize the friend; and (b) regardless, they will definitely out you to their parents).
Anyway, Paige continued to malign my efforts to fix the plane and I kept getting angrier and angrier. Finally, I picked the plane up in one hand and raised it high up over my head. Here it was. That fork in the road where I could choose to be mature and parent with love and logic, or where I could instead choose to submit to my basest, least productive, and most juvenile impulses.
Obviously, I chose the latter.
I dropped the plane with a dramatic flourish onto the hard composite wood of the playroom art table, where it shattered loudly into all of its remaining components.
Paige, who was already melting down before this, went full Chernobyl as I stormed up the stairs. I ignored Geoff's quiet protests of "I don't really understand why you did that," and dug out the instruction booklet.
"Here," I said, marching the booklet down to a still wailing Paige and handing it to her as an olive branch of sorts. "We can make it again. It's better to get more use out of it anyway."
Paige narrowed her eyes skeptically, but by then both of us had calmed down a little. She was spending the night as a mini-mother's helper of sorts, camping with a friend of mine with a toddler whose husband commercial fishes all summer. She knew she had to step up her maturity game lest I revoke this privilege.
My maturity game, however . . . well . . . that's a different story. We left the deconstructed Lego plane in this plastic baby crib, which is probably where I belong given my behavior this afternoon.
But you know what? I'm okay with that. Sort of.