My Granddaughter Has Learned To Throw A Humdinger Of A Tantrum


When my granddaughter Tess was two years old, we kept waiting for the Terrible Twos, tantrums which generally begin the minute a child learns to say “no” and then realizes the power of the word.

But Tess was a perfect angel throughout her entire second and third year, evidently saving everything up for ages 4 and 5, when she could give tantrums the full benefit of her whole life experience.

One such tantrum occurred last weekend, when the grandkids were invited to spend a few nights at grandma’s house in order to give their stressed-out, working-from-home-ain’t-all-it’s-cracked-up-to-be parents a well-deserved break.

Everything was going swimmingly until bedtime. Skippy, exhausted from a day of digging up my lawn in a relentless search for “hidden gold” (I wish), fell asleep immediately, but Tess was too wound up to sleep, too tired to sleep, too wrung-out to do anything but pitch a humdinger of a fit. It started out with a loud wail, which, of course, I ignored. I was over-tired, too. Instead, I went into the bathroom to clean up after the hurricane the kids call “brushing our teeth,” saying to my husband Mark, “Tag. You’re it.”

It didn’t take long before he was standing in the doorway. But instead of telling me she was all tucked in, he said, “I lost her.”

“What do you mean, you lost her?” I asked.

“I think she went out onto the porch, but I don’t see her.”

I ran to the door. No Tess.

I searched the front yard. No Tess.

I searched the backyard. No Tess.

(Where was that loud wail now?)

I finally found her, hunched down into a ball next to the neighbor’s garage, snurfing, “I think I am in the wrong family. Nobody likes me. I have no friends. All my friends have betrayed me.”

(Betrayed her? She’s five! Who uses that language at five? I don’t think she even knows what it means! But, due to COVID, she may have meant “abandoned.” This is the world these poor, impressionable little kids are growing up in.)

So, I gathered her up and sat on the porch, rocking her a little bit and naming all the people who do love her. She even named a few herself. (“Mama, you and Ninja (her dog) — but that’s it. And I have no friends.”) So, I reminded her how she got a letter from her best friend Tina just last week. So, OK, Tina makes the cut. And Ashia.

“I guess I’ll go live with Tina,” Tess said.

(She is nothing if not a problem-solver. And Tina’s mother will certainly never do something as awful as to try to get her into bed at 10 p.m.)

So, things are looking up, and she began talking about a trip her parents are planning for the family in which they take a camper to their other grandparents’ lake house in New Hampshire. Tess invited me along, but added that I’ll have to sleep in my car “because there aren’t enough beds.”

“That would be fun,” I said. “And I could always sleep in your bed since you’ll be at Tina’s.”

This rattled around in her brain for a while, then she said, “Thank you for making me feel better”

And then she trundled off to bed where she fell asleep in 30 seconds.

She awoke the next morning, refreshed and happy and hungry for the Lucky Charms that she will later throw up all over my Toyota.

“I forgot to tell you… I get carsick now,” she explained.