Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Life's Temper Tantrums

A while back one of my sons sent me a short video of his one-year-old 
son throwing a temper tantrum. Accompanying the video he wrote, “Here’s 
just a taste of what happens when we don’t let baby play in the toilet.” 
In the video my adorable grandson is rolling back and forth on the 
carpet, crying as if he’s been mortally wounded. He pauses as if to see 
if anyone is paying attention, then he pounds his feet against the floor 
over and over and continues to howl. Of course, I’m the grandmother, so 
I laughed and laughed. I don’t recall feeling that amused when my own 
children threw tantrums, but I was fairly naive when I first began my 
adventure of parenthood and I don’t think I handled their tantrums very 
well. I’d like to think I’ve helped my children be better parents than I 

The first time I watched the video, which was very small on my cell 
phone screen, I could see my son’s foot in the frame at what appeared to 
be somewhat of an awkward angle, but I didn’t give it much thought. When 
I viewed the video on a bigger screen, I realized that he had his foot 
over the corner of an end table to keep his child from bumping into it 
and hurting himself while he got the tantrum out of his system. I 
actually felt moved to tears. As I considered why it made me emotional, 
a mixture of insights came to mind. I could clearly see now that while 
my son was patiently waiting for his own son to calm down and accept the 
situation, he was making certain he didn’t get hurt in the midst of his 
absolutely ridiculous infantile behavior. At least infantile behavior is 
expected when you’re barely one. When you’re one, playing in the toilet 
is fun. There’s no comprehension of the germs or the possibility of 
falling and bumping your head on hard porcelain. Knowing my son and his 
wife, it was likely one of the cleanest toilets in the world. Still, 
playing in the toilet is one of the first experiences this child will 
have of being kept away from harmful behavior by his parents. He’ll have 
to learn about hot stoves and sharp scissors and crossing streets. In 
his one-year-old brain, he only sees the chance for discovery and 
pleasure. It’s up to his parents to keep him safe. And they do.

Some days later the tenderness I’d seen in the tantrum video (which I 
have dubbed it) settled into me more personally. I consider myself to be 
fairly mature emotionally and spiritually, and I only say that because 
I’ve worked very hard to become that way and I try to be mindful of my 
behavior and attitudes. However, there are facets of my life that I am 
not very happy about, and I’m struggling to understand. Metaphorically, 
am I kicking and screaming because I want to play in the toilet because 
it’s fun and it’s what I want? Am I simply not trusting that God can see 
the bigger picture of my life, that He has a perspective I can’t 
understand? Maybe he’s protecting me, refining me, teaching me. Or all 
of the above. Is He figuratively keeping his foot over the corner of the 
table to keep me from bumping my head until I get my current state of 
emotional unrest out of my system? Is he just waiting for me to be still 
and accept that things are not the way I want them to be, but the way 
they need to be? I don’t know the answers to all those questions, but I 
do know God is in charge and my gratitude for that knowledge is deep.

Considering what I know of human behavior, I think tantrums come in many 
forms. Is it emotional eating? Getting angry with someone over something 
stupid? Refusing to let go of a misunderstanding in a relationship? You 
get the idea. The possibilities of adult tantrums are limitless. I’ve 
now paused to consider what ridiculous behavior I might be preoccupied 
with while my Father in Heaven is just watching and waiting patiently 
for me to get over it while He tries to keep me safe.

While this very thought was strong on my mind (because it was for 
several days) I went with one of my other sons to see his sons play 
soccer. Two boys of different ages were competing in different sections 
of the same field, so I was able to watch them both a little bit and let 
them see my face with the hope that they would know I love them and care 
about what they’re doing. While my son’s wife was coaching the game of 
their younger son, I walked over to that field to observe. For the 
record, trying to coach four-year-olds playing soccer is like trying to 
herd cats. It’s very entertaining for the onlookers, but nothing much is 
getting accomplished. My daughter-in-law deserves a medal for getting 
out there and trying to create some order in the chaos just so her son 
can be part of a team

Back at the other field, where my nine-year-old grandson was playing, 
the game was actually a game. I sat with my son and the two-year-old 
little sister of the athletes while the game progressed. With the 
exception of keeping an eye on his daughter (who is the reason the term 
“terrible twos” was created) my son kept his eyes tuned perfectly to his 
own son playing soccer. He cheered him on and shouted encouragement and 
never stopped watching. He wasn’t pretending to be interested; he really 
was. For me, little in life has felt as fulfilling as seeing my own 
children being good parents. So, my heart was warmed and I was so glad 
to be there—even though it was cold and a little rainy.

When the game was over, my son put the chairs and the big lawn umbrella 
in their carrying cases and we headed toward the parking lot. This was 
when his little daughter started crying to see Mom. He explained to her 
that they were going to put the stuff in the car and then find Mom, but 
she wasn’t listening. Finally she just sat down on the grass and refused 
to move. We were quite a ways ahead of her before it became evident she 
wouldn’t be talked out of moving. Then I watched my son patiently walk 
back, and with cases already hanging from one shoulder, he gently picked 
his daughter up by her shoulder, and with masculine strength and the 
evidence of much practice, he efficiently swung her over his free 
shoulder like a little bag of grain and held tightly to her to keep her 
safely there, and on we went.

Again I saw metaphors of life in this simple act. She was being stubborn 
and difficult because she wanted what she wanted and she didn’t have the 
patience to do things in the right order. But her father just lifted her 
up and carried her with patience and tenderness. He didn’t get angry or 
frustrated. He just did what he had to do to watch over his child. And I 
watched and wondered how often my Heavenly Father has lifted me up from 
my stubborn declarations of “I’m not going any farther” and just carried 
me over his shoulder until I’m ready to walk on my own again

I wrote last time about the wisdom of waiting, and of being still. I 
feel a sense that part of my need for stillness is to learn to recognize 
whether or not I’m being stubborn or ignorant or naive, and to trust 
that God is watching over me even if I don’t feel it in the moment. The 
youngest of my three sons is expecting his first child this summer. I 
see the precious waiting and anticipation in him and his wife as they 
make preparations and try to imagine how dramatically their lives will 
change. I love this baby already and can’t wait to meet her. And I 
wonder what she might teach me about waiting and being still and not 
throwing my adult version of tantrums. Perhaps waiting can be compared 
to being in a womb. It’s dark and crowded and we’re squirming and 
kicking and just waiting to be ready to come out, which is not unlike 
the butterfly in the chrysalis. Funny how life is full of lessons, 
everywhere we look. We are born and we learn and grow and we are reborn, 
sometimes again and again as we move toward the person we came here to 
be. For now, I’m going to try a little more to act like an adult and 
stop kicking and screaming. But I’m going to continue to be amused as I 
observe my grandchildren try to figure out this world, and eventually 
realize just how loved they are.


Anita Stansfield aka Elizabeth D. Michaels (All of Anita Stansfield's books, and The Horstberg Saga by Elizabeth D. Michaels, are available at


Chris v said...

" I watched and wondered how often my Heavenly Father has lifted me up from my stubborn declarations of “I’m not going any farther” and just carried me over his shoulder until I’m ready to walk on my own again."

I have wondered this very same thing myself. You put it so eloquently. While my struggle is completely different than yours, the metaphors you've drawn are spot on.

It's amazing how different our struggles might be, yet the truth is still the truth, regardless. :)

Thank you for your posts!

Unknown said...

Anita, I have been a fan of yours for many many years -- love your books and the lessons I learn from you. I hope you don't mind that I quoted you a few time (yes, I gave you credit along with plugs for your books) on Facebook. Thank you for sharing your talents with all of us. I have learned so many things over the years just by the way you present ideas and principles that make me analyze them and see how I can incorporate them into my life. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anita

My wife and I very much like your audiobooks as we travel long distances. We purchased a the Rain, Thunder, Storm but did not get the Winds of Hope when we picked up the three we did not check to see if one was missing. Well it was the Winds of Hope that was missing.

Can we get this audiobook from you directly? We are holding off reading The Jayson Wolfe Story Shelter From The Storm so we can follow the story. We understand the last one is missing also The Silence Of Snow.

We started with A Loving Heart and enjoyed it so much we started the above set only to find we were short. What to do?

Well we searched Deseret books and found only broken sets of other series.

Well we bought what we could hoping to pick up the missing volumes and it has not been easy.

Can you help us out?

We just don't know where to look. We did not realize the path we started and now the trail is cold and we find it hard to chase down from Ebay.

The Jayson Wolfe Story
The Sound Of Rain*
A Distant Thunder*
Need (The WInds Of Hope)*
Shelter From The Storm*
Need (The Silence Of Snow)*

The Dickens Inn Series
Need (Volume I, The Best of Times)*
Need (Volume II, A Far, Far Better Place)*
Volume III, A Loving Heart*
Volume IV, Tranquil Light*
Volume V, Every Graceful Fancy*

Barrington Family Saga
Need (Volume I, In Search of Heaven)*
Need (Volume II, A Quiet Promise)*
Volume III, At Heaven's Door*
Volume IV, Promise of Zion*

Please let us know if you have a solution and source for other sets?
Justin and Elizabeth Price