Tuesday, July 7, 2009

In contemplation of the noble tantrum

What is the evolutionary principle behind tantrums? Can you imagine, just imagine, cave mamma Ugg with child #1 standing just outside cave mouth #43 on Cave Mouth Street grinding corn or preparing to go out and gather and little cave kid Ugg Jr throws himself to the ground and pounds his tiny fists and kicks his tiny legs and screams like a bear to get what he wants? Do you suppose she rolls her cavelady eyes and hands it to him? Because I don't. I see cave mamma taking her club out and giving him a good whack.

Imagine, again, Mayan momma standing in the hot sun after harvesting corn (oh I'm not an indigenous tribe specialist get off my back) watching Mayan girl baby screaming to be allowed to play with that last ear of corn, because it had become her toy, and not giving it to Mayan momma immediately upon being asked. Do you think she might be tempting the Mayan god to select her for the heart sacrifice? I think I'd tread a bit more carefully if I were that kid.

And imagine, if you will, prairie settler family Miller just put prairie kid Joseph to bed and he throws a tantrum to the point of barfing on his bedcovers. Do you think that in an era of no washing machines and no multiple sheet sets he was allowed to do this time and time again for no apparent reason and not end up sleeping amidst his barf particles? I think not. I think he'd be washing his own sheets pretty soon in the river with bloody knuckles of his own. I think he'd learn pretty stinking fast not to barf in his bed. His mom wouldn't be running with his barfing self out of the nursery to try to stop the inevitable sheet change one stinking time. I don't think so. Heck, he'd be lucky to have a bed. And if he barfed in mom and pop's bed? I think he'd be hoeing a row of crops before he was 2.

I mean how did tantrums achieve anything until the current parental administration where we overindulge such children? In the last, what, 50 years there's been a sea change from children being a necessary production of help mates for the household to children being our entire reason for the sun coming up in the morning and goodness knows you better not wake/upset/scold/deny/deprive them. So I see how it's evolutionarily useful now. It works like a charm to lay your tiny little body down in the middle of a packed grocery store and go to town with tears and snot because you bet your mom is going to scoop your butt up and get you anything to shut you up so she can finish shopping because this is the one stupid chance she gets all week to get groceries and if she can't now you'll all starve.

Well not this mom. That kid and I will either be standing there annoying the rest of you until he's done with his theatrics or we leave and we starve. I know it looks bad to the other judging eyes and I've been them too, but you know once you're the parent that the difference between a tantrum and a true cry is so obvious to you at some point early on in getting to know this kid that you can not allow yourself to indulge the former. Because that only means more in the future. And those judging eyes? They can go have triplets of their own and then judge me. Well, maybe not even then. Because this is my kid, and for some unexplainable reason tantrums are there in the animal brain, even though I'm pretty sure that our ancestor apes used them to better effect and they should have been extinguished as a useful strategy somewhere around the 1300s, BC, and there is NOTHING. I. CAN. DO. ABOUT. IT. So smile sweetly and move on rubberneckers. Nothing to see here.

No comments:

Post a Comment