Chocolate Tantrum

Posted By on December 1, 2011

We went to the market only to get some bread. For some reason, there was a line of people to pay so we were standing right in front of the impulse-buy-shelf, where the chocolate and sweets live. Of course he sees the chocolate. I knew I was in for it now.

And so it begins, “Mom I want this.” He pulls a bar of chocolate off the shelf.

“I’m not going to get it today.”

“But I want it.” he says.

This is when I started my keep-it-together-mom deep breathing. “It’s okay to want something and not get it right away. You must be frustrated. I hear you.”

More whining as we edge closer to the register. These seconds seem so long. More complaining and whining.

The moment we stepped outside the store he breaks down and started crying, half screaming. I walked him toward the car still crying. “But I want it!” Big crocodile tears. I secretly hated the store manager for strategically placing that shelf next to the register.

I knelt down to look him in the eyes and said, “I hear that you’re frustrated. I know you want to eat the chocolate and it’s frustrating that I’m stopping you from getting it. I’m your mom and part of my job is to take care of you and your body.  We’re going to have a yummy lunch in a few minutes at our friend’s house.”

I picked him up when a car was moving beside us. He started kicking his feet, kicking me in the process. People from around the parking lot were now watching with intrigue.

I told him firmly, “That hurts. I’m going to put you down if you keep kicking.”

I set him down in his car seat . When I try to buckle him, he yelled, “I don’t want to be buckled.”

I said fine and closed his door.

I sat down on the driver seat. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t do anything. Where did I need to go at that moment more important than this relationship? Right now this is the work I need to do.

We just sat there in silence with my elbow against the window, face on my hand.

Many things went through my mind: What were the people at the store thinking of me or of my sugar hungry bratty child? I remembered what I have done in the past, forcing my will over his. I thought about how my mom handled similar situations. I thought about Buddha and Christ, Mother Teresa and Gandhi. I remembered that humans are inherently good, that there is a positive intention behind every action no matter what the behavior. I reminded myself that my top two priorities were safety and connection. AND it’s okay that I don’t get what I want right away either. So in those 5 to 10 min. I made space in my heart to embrace his suffering/hunger/need for autonomy as real and valuable. Then, very subtly, I felt a shift in the fabric of the universe.

“Mom.” I heard his sweet raspy voice say, “… I’m sorry.”

Please note, Cameron and I have made a point not to force our children to say “I’m sorry” when they have done something socially unacceptable. We didn’t want them to just say the words without meaning or authenticity. What is more important to us is that they admit to their actions and acknowledge how their actions affect the world around them. All the while loving them just as they are.

So when “I’m sorry” came out of my four-year-old’s mouth, I was deeply touched, because I knew, he really meant it.

I looked back at him and touched his hand. “Are we okay now?” I asked. “Can I help you get your seat belt on?”

He nodded. And the rest of the day was a breeze.

About The Author

Relearning to be as curious as a young child.


9 Responses to “Chocolate Tantrum”

  1. I was better at handling these things when my son was younger (he’s 11 now), but never this good. Your post is inspiring. I hope it will help me to do a better job of being silent when I’m frustrated.

  2. Laura says:

    We learn best through stories. Thanks for sharing this story. I’ll be posting it on Facebook.

  3. Wow, that’s a wonderful story! Thanks for commenting on my “sawwy” post :)

  4. Judith says:

    Thank you for sharing, momma. This is beautiful work.

  5. Leslie says:

    Lovely! Way to go, momma. And thank you for sharing – the experience and your thought process through it. We’ve all been there, and it’s HARD. the way you handled this stressful situation is so admirable. blessings and love. <3

  6. Bianca says:

    This is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing it. We all need each other as inspiration.

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