One of the most frustrating things for me in parenting is that behaviors never really seem to extinguish. They may lie dormant for a while, but they are still there…just waiting to bite you when you least expect it.
Yesterday morning started out beautifully. Two well-rested and happy children started their day with playing and laughter, hugs and snuggles. Then it was off to church we went. Our church is trying out something new where once a month the children stay in worship with the adults rather than heading off to Sunday school. Definitely a challenge for those of us with active little ones, but with a fully stocked backpack of coloring and books, we were up for it. And all we had to do was get through an hour of “regular” church before we could shed the stuffy clothes and head outside for a fun homecoming picnic.
Apparently Sprout didn’t get the memo. He didn’t sit still, he didn’t stay quiet, and during a sermon about peace, he sat glaring at us with anger-filled eyes. Of course, none of that was terribly shocking or abnormal. So when the service ended and everyone started filing out the doors to the picnic area, Sprout cheerfully packed up his things and hopped in line with Grandma and Grandpa.
“Not so fast buddy – You and I need to step into this room to have a conversation about your behavior before we head to the picnic.”
I’ve said word like those countless times and we’ve had conversations like those countless times. But this time? That’s all it took for him to lose it completely. Complete screaming, crying, flailing fit. Making a scene and literally throwing himself into traffic as we attempted an exit. He’s got a real knack at inducing simultaneous fear, anger, and public humiliation.
Didn’t we extinguish these public tantrums? Isn’t 4 years old to be far too old to be behaving like this? Apparently, no and no. This is the part of the rollercoaster ride that I find particularly intolerable. The fact that we’ve gone months without a public tantrum, then all of a sudden, here it is again. It feels like such a lack of progress – it feels like such a failure. I really wanted to go to that picnic.
But would you know it…he didn’t pee. And the rollercoaster chugs on.