A certain little Owl is coming of temper tantrum age. I forgot how young the sass can begin. At this age, it’s kind of an amusing detour from an otherwise pleasant moment. Now that I am seeing Owl in the throes of his mini-tantrums, I can remember why I didn’t feel so flummoxed with Penguin’s tantrums at this age. It’s not that you want to laugh at them, because they are an expression of your child’s emotional state, but at the same time, their miniature stature and total reliance on you make the resulting tantrum seem so harmless and silly. They are a far cry from the wailing, dramatic and overpowering three-year-old tantrums of last year. Now I can see why I was so taken aback and I can retrospectively cut myself some slack. I was used to a silly tantrum that I could basically overlook. At age three, you are introduced to the lengthy, angry, body thrashing tantrum that has the added benefit of a held grudge afterwards. At fifteen months, the tantrums are more frequent, but they are short and soon forgotten.

Almost everything can lead to a little tantrum these days and I am sure that it is an inability to communicate a want or a desire. Owl is very good with pointing and gesturing, but those moments don’t exactly translate into something I can comprehend. Yesterday, I made the grievous faux pas of handing him a paper towel when what he really wanted was a pair of dangerous kitchen scissors. Tantrum ensued. I wanted to take of his shoes, he wanted to run after the kitty. Tantrum ensues. I can roll with these because, ultimately, they are forgotten in four seconds by all parties involved.

The four-year-old tantrum is different because it generally culminates after moments (hours?) of lobbying for a specific request. So you have the lengthy, draining lead-up to the tantrum and then the tantrum itself, which is an explosion of frustration resulting from the fact that the child did not get what he so passionately wanted. On the plus side, they are infrequent, or at the very least, do not happen daily. On the down side, they are tremendously exhausting because the singular, driven persistence in which  a small child can hone their laser-like focus on fulfilling their desire is, at best, tiring and, at worst, likely to drive you into your own state of angry acting out.

Being of Sicilian blood (all of us), I think we have the predisposition towards the loud and dramatic. I dislike making generalizations, but in this case, I think it applies. My own Nana was a warm and effusive and dramatic and loud woman. My mother is less loud, but the qualities are the same. Many of my other relatives fit the description. I also see it in Papa Bird and, by extension, in the boys. Truthfully, you can hear us down the block whether we’re happy, sad, angry or all manner of emotion in between. My job, and it’s a work in progress for me as well, is to honor the emotions while at the same time reigning in the dramatics ever so slightly so that we don’t all drive each other crazy.