Monday, March 8, 2010

Throwing Tantrums

My otherwise angelic grandson has developed a charming new Terrible-Two habit.

Whenever he doesn’t get his own way, he takes whatever he happens to be holding at the time and throws it onto the floor (or ground) as hard as he can.

Then he spits. (Like a “Bronx cheer.”)

Unfortunately, the auntie that was babysitting him the first time the spitting thing occurred laughed uproariously at his little display of anger. So, of course, that reinforced the behavior like liquid cement.

Now it happens several times a day.

“I need a cookie!”
“I’m sorry, James, you’ve already had too many.”
Thomas the Train slams into the floor and ricochets against the floorboard.
A shower of spit comes my way.

“I wanna go Mimi’s house!”
“I’m not ready to go back over there yet. We’ll go in a little while.”
Smash! Shatter! goes the favorite DVD he’s clutching. “Pppppttt!” (Bronx Cheer.)

But this is the funny part.

After the spitting, accompanied by a defiant little look at me for emphasis, his gaze turns to the injured item. And he cries, “Oh noooooo!” Scooping it back up, he hands it to me and says, “Fix it, Mimi. Fix it.”

What a great tableau of a spiritual principle, acted out for my benefit over and over again. 

Until I get it.


I know people who are really mad at God. They blame him for everything wrong in their lives. They become increasingly bitter with age and its accompanying disillusionment.

There’s a lot to be angry about down here.  It’s not hard to fall into a state of perpetual anger. Anger can become a reflexive reaction to anything or anyone that thwarts our will, destroys our plans, rains on our parade, or cuts us off on the by-pass.

Having tumbled into that treacherous trap on more than one occasion, I appreciate the unambiguous illustration my grandson provides for me:

Our anger hurts us more than anyone else.

It destroys the very things we hold most closely and value above all else…sometimes beyond our ability to repair.

And then we run to God and ask Him to fix whatever’s broken.

Whatever we’ve broken in our rage…

Even if it’s been directed at Him.


 When James comes to me with the fruit of his anger, I request (require) an apology for the behavior. 

“I sorry, Mimi,” he readily admits. Then he hands me the pieces of Toby the Train’s broken Station House.

I easily snap the door back on its hinges and give him a hug to celebrate. Then I say, “Now, James, I don’t want you to act like this any more, okay?”

“Okay, Mimi, okay,” he assures me as he runs off to play.

But he probably will.

Just like his grandma.


"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."  (James 1:19-20)


  1. We went through the spitting thing with Thing One. If you aren't too soft hearted to do it, I found a great solution. Hot sauce.

    I told him that if something bad came out of his mouth, then something bad was going into it. It was perfect for his two year old brain- the connection made sense to him. One dollop of hot sauce on my finger applied to his tongue and he figured it out pretty quickly. He tested the limits, but it didn't take long. He tried it in the car one day, reasoning that there wouldn't be any hot sauce readily available. We pulled over at the first gas station and I bought a bottle of Tabasco. That was the last time he spit (on purpose! Drooly episodes don't count). Three years ago.

  2. true...

    our anger hurts US more than anyone else.

  3. Oh Kim! We are right there with you on the tantrums!! I hear 3's are worse!!! :) Oh are Britt and I in for a ride! :)



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