The Irrational Rage Monster
Hey, Owlet, Platypup, wanna know a secret? Mommy knows exactly how it feels to have a tantrum. Because she still has them.
Seriously. You people out there, you dear readers, you know what I’m talking about, because you have them, too. (Pssst! Even if you don’t have kids!)
You’re walking along, all normal like, doing your daily routine, and something happens to make you frustrated. Maybe you step in dog poo. Or your boss yells at you. Or you stub your toe. Or your computer disagrees with that coffee you accidentally shared. Or your child looks at you, grins, and simultaneously spits up and poops while your phone rings (um, thanks, Platypup).
If you’ve got a modicum of self-control, you work through it. You deal with the practical aspect of the issue at hand and try to roll it clumsily off your back.
Then it happens again.
Eventually, rolling it off your back achieves a Sisyphussian level of difficulty. You could get over it like you did countless times earlier today. But then you do it. You think THE THOUGHT.
It only takes one.
Maybe it’s “this is so unfair.” Or even the classic “Why me?” Or something more tailored to your individual situation, like “How can I possibly still be lying here trying to get this child to sleep after an hour and a half when I should finally get to eat lunch, check my email, and commence battle with the couch-eating laundry pile?”
Your brow furrows. Your eyes acquire a haze of insanity. You start to clench muscles you didn’t even know you had. The taste of your saliva offends you. In short, you become The Irrational Rage Monster.
The Irrational Rage Monster speaks primarily in whines, howls, and screeches. Certain breeds are prone to wild gesticulations and/or unusually heavy footfalls. The Irrational Rage Monster does not stop to consider the feelings of others prior to hurling insults or even tremendous fistfuls of fishhooked sarcasm. It is not uncommon for The Irrational Rage Monster to weep uncontrollably. The Irrational Rage Monster is devious in its use of logic for its own purposes, but cannot listen to reason from outside sources. It is very, very hard to stop The Irrational Rage Monster in its tracks. Most guidebooks advise finding a safe place to wait for it to pass by. Do not expect to confront The Irrational Rage Monster directly and escape unscathed. The Irrational Rage Monster can be relentless in pursuit of its foes, and all things, living creatures and inanimate objects alike, are foes to The Irrational Rage Monster.
How can we possibly expect a child to control The Irrational Rage Monster when we ourselves still struggle against it? Our tantrums may not look like theirs. They may be more sophisticated. They may be more eloquent. They may have volume control and awareness of traffic patterns. But it’s the same damn Irrational Rage Monster nonetheless.
There’s only one way I can possibly help my little ones learn to tackle The Irrational Rage Monster. I need to grapple with my own. And, most important, I need to let them watch. With Ms. & Mr. Sponges-for-Eyes in the audience, I need to do two impossible things. I have to show weakness. And I have to win.
And then I have to do it all over again.