Temper Tantrums and Candy Bars (Or Things That I Want for My Birthday)

I turned 29 the other day which means I’m about one year away from being 30 and about 25 years removed from when it was socially acceptable for me to throw a temper tantrum.

And that’s what I regret the most about my wasted youth–temper tantrums. If I had it to do all over again, I’d throw way more temper tantrums. I’d throw them all the damned time. I’d be a little temper tantrum machine.

I’m not saying that I’d scream and shout and become some sort of little demon child in the middle of a grocery store checkout lane because my mom didn’t buy me a candy bar or something.

That’s not really the kind of temper tantrum I’m talking about. I’m talking more about the great, dramatic, throw-yourself-on-the-floor and cry-until-you’re-hyperventilating temper tantrums that kids have all but perfected. .

There’s something to be said about temper tantrums like that. They just look so damned cathartic.

Also I just really appreciate the dramatics of them. Children in the throes of these sort of temper tantrums are amazing to watch. The singularity of focus they bring to the endeavor is breathtaking (sometimes literally, hence the hyperventilating).

In that moment, they are so incredibly, unbelievably overwhelmed by whatever has upset them that they literally can’t take any more.

So they just call a timeout and plop themselves down on the floor wherever they are — in the middle of their living room, in the grassy field outside their preschool and seemingly most often, (at least in the eyes of this former cashier) the checkout lane at the grocery store.

Now, I’m not saying that throwing yourselves on the floor of your neighborhood grocery store is a good idea. (It’s not a good idea–those floors are gross.)

I’m just saying that you have to admire kids’ ability to acknowledge when they’ve had enough and demand a break.

Sure, they could probably (definitely) find a better way to express their wants and needs, but, hell, you have to admire their willingness to ask for some assistance (or at the very least, some chocolate) ASAP.

As adults, we lose some of this honesty in part because we become more mature and realize it’s not a good idea to throw ourselves onto dirty grocery store floors.

But I think we also lose some of this honesty simply because we no longer want to allow ourselves to look vulnerable and more than a little bit ridiculous, to look even for a second like we don’t have it all together. And in that way, I think maturity kind of sucks.

I think most of us could stand to throw a good temper tantrum now and then. I think it’d be rather good for us.

Have you ever seen a kid after they’ve finished a good, dramatic, bawl-your-eyes-out temper tantrum? They just look so damned relieved (you know, after the hyperventilating stops).

Whatever they were freaking out about a moment before, has been forgotten. They’re  over it. They’ve moved on.

As far as I can tell, adults as a whole are not as good at this.

Instead of just screaming, shouting and calling a timeout when we need to, we just mumble under our breath and keep piling on responsibilities we don’t want (and in most cases, don’t need).

This doesn’t seem like a very effective way to solve our problems which is why I think we can learn a thing or two from the kiddos here.

So, with that in mind, my belated birthday wish is that we all give ourselves permission to be a little more ridiculous now and then. To give ourselves a timeout.

Oh, and my other belated birthday wish is for a candy bar. I think I made that pretty clear.