Cry Me A River – A Three-Year Old’s Never Ending Stream Of Tantrums

Sam seems to be recovering from her stomach virus. She’s still congested, which means I spend a lot of time standing in a hot shower with her in my arms until she can breathe normally. I wouldn’t mind so much, but I can’t actually wash while I’m holding her, so I end up taking a separate shower just to clean up. I’m starting to get a bit waterlogged.

Speaking of waterlogged, Cassie’s really been turning on the tears lately. I never knew a child could throw so many tantrums. Some are fairly minor, just a little crying and pouting when I ask her to do something. Others have been complete meltdowns, like the one in the playground parking lot on Friday, resulting in some disciplinary action (i.e. a spanking) that led to even more screaming. Ugh.

I am so tired of dealing with temper tantrums. I know what sets them off, I can predict when they’ll happen, but there’s not a damn thing I can do to prevent them it seems. Basically, Cassie will be doing something she enjoys and for some reason or another, I’ll have to ask her to stop and do something else. In fact, we’re starting to develop a routine of tantrums, based on our daily schedule. It goes something like this:

0630 – Cassie wakes up, usually in a bad mood, and wants a sippy cup of milk and an episode of Sesame Street. I’ll give her both, but we only allow half an hour of TV in the mornings, so…

7:00 AM – I turn off Sesame Street to have breakfast and Cassie throws a fit.

7:30 AM – After breakfast, I spend some time finishing up the morning chores. Cassie likes to sit and play with her Little People or her Barbies. That’s fine, but at some point she needs to get dressed and make her bed, so…

8:30 AM – Once the morning chores are done, I pick up Sam to upstairs and nurse and tell Cassie she needs to get dressed and make her bed. She immediately proceeds to throw tantrum number two.

9:30 AM – Cassie, Sam and I are dressed and ready to head out the door. If it weren’t for the temper tantrums, I might have a shot at getting to the Y on time to take yoga class. I haven’t been to a class since the week Sam was born. This doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon. I do still manage to get to the Y though, where I can leave the kids at the nursery for an hour or so while I get in some much needed exercise. Sam usually dozes in the arms of one of the attendants or sleeps in a bouncy chair. Cassie gets to play with other kids her age for an hour or so. I get to blow off some stress and rebuild my post partum body. At the end of that hour though, we have to leave, and that means…

11:00 AM – Cassie throws tantrum number three because she doesn’t want to quit playing. I sigh and do my best to make a graceful exit from the Y with my screaming child. I’m sure we’re very entertaining to watch.

11:30 AM thru lunch – Depending on her mood and my level of exhaustion, we may or may not experience various mini-tantrums. Subjects such as the lunchtime menu, getting to the potty in time to avoid an accident, washing hands before the meal, using utensils to eat, chewing with our mouths closed, etc., are all opportunities for outbursts of screaming and defiance. If I’m really lucky, Michael is home for lunch and we alternate tantrum management sessions between us until he has to go back to work. If I’m not lucky, I’m on my own with the little demon spawn.

1:00 PM – Clean up time after lunch. Cassie’s been pretty good about letting me have 15 minutes or so to clear the table and put things away, but as soon as I’m done, she jumps on me to play with her. I do my best to accommodate, but if Sam needs a diaper change or she has to be fed… well, let’s just say things can get ugly.

1:30 PM – I try to get us out of the house in the afternoons, either to run errands or take Cassie to the playground. This is the tricky part of the day, especially if we go to the playground. I can’t chase Cassie around the jungle gym like I used to – it’s just impossible with Sam in my arms – so she has to make do on her own. If there are other kids around, it’s usually not too much of a problem, but some days the playground is pretty empty (other moms aren’t crazy enough to deal with the heat, I suppose). Additionally, Cassie still hasn’t figured out how to pump her legs so she can swing on her own. Again, I can’t hold Sam and push Cassie, and since most playgrounds in this area are covered with mulch, they’re not exactly stroller friendly. Still, Cassie copes with these limitations. But as naptime approaches, I must start the countdown to let her know we’ll be leaving soon. Fifteen minutes… ten minutes… five… four… three… two… one… and we have meltdown. The screaming, sobbing, howling and kicking are unbelievable. I seriously believe my daughter is possessed at times like this and wonder where I could find a Catholic priest who would be willing to perform an exorcism on the daughter of a casual Buddhist like myself. I mean really, Cassie does all but spin her head 360 degrees and puke green pea soup all over the place as I try to get her in the car. Last Friday it was so bad I had to resort to grabbing her by the ear because it was the only part of her I could reach without dropping Sam. I had to haul that kid to the car and lift her up inside of it (by the ear, no less!), then shut and lock the door behind her to prevent her from running amok in the parking lot. She shrieked all the way home, into the house and up the stairs to her room. Then she screamed even louder when I put her to bed without any stories. As the tantrum continued, I went downstairs and collapsed on the couch until Cassie finally passed out from screaming so much.

3:00 PM – 6:00 PM – If I’ve done my job right that day, Cassie will be worn out enough to sleep for a good three hours. That gives me time to focus on Sam for a bit and do some work. If I didn’t wear her out though, Cassie will wake early and fuss and whine until I give up on any hope of getting any more work done and agree to go downstairs and play with her. We may or may not have a tantrum, depending on how determined I am to work and how determined she is to get me to play. If she sleeps for three hours though, we can skip all that and head straight to…

6:00 PM – The witching hour. Cassie wakes up and wants her movie. I must remind her she doesn’t get a movie until after dinner. She insists that she’s already had dinner. I explain she had lunch, not dinner. This little argument goes on until Michael has the meal on the table. Then we have a repeat of lunchtime’s fits and fusses, accompanied by the required time outs. This lasts up until…

7:00 PM – Movie and treat time. If Cassie hasn’t managed to lose her evening privileges by this time, she gets half an hour of movie and a small treat (usually a piece of chocolate, a bit of dessert, something like that). Or else she gets time to play with Michael or me for a bit before going up for her bath. And that’s where the trouble lies, because like all good things, this too must end, and it ends in…

8:00 PM – The end of the day meltdown. This one is a doozy. It starts with Michael or I telling Cass that it’s time to turn off the movie, quit playing, put her toys away and go upstairs for her bath. This particular tantrum lasts off and on through out her bedtime routine, with pitched battles of defiance over getting undressed, getting into the tub, getting out of the tub, brushing her teeth, brushing her hair, going potty one last time, and turning off the lights and setting down for the night. On a good night, Michael is home and he gets to deal with it while I nurse Sam and put her down for the night (a monumental task in its own right). On a bad night, Michael is either working late or at karate class and yours truly is just plain screwed.

You know, looking at all this reminds me of when Cassie was an infant and she screamed all the time because she had colic. Back then, we called her “Angry Baby.” I had hoped she would outgrow it. Now I know better.

About Cynical Woman

Cartoonist, Artist, Geek, Evil Crafter, Girl Scout Troop Leader and Writer. Also, a zombie. I haven't slept in I don't know how long.
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  1. We’ve all been here. Just be consistant! If you give her an inch, she’ll take ten miles. One suggestion, you might have her earn her movie time. Instead of losing it because of her behavior, she could earn it (so many gold stars or whatever). You’ll still have the major meltdown when she hasn’t earned her movie time, but she’ll get the point…eventually?! Thank God I have teenagers – LOL! Hang in there hun!

  2. we’re working up to temper tantrums, which is something she’s learned at daycare. little size 9 wide stomping feet, protruding lower lip, & whimpering sounds. all over the craziest things. “let’s go potty” the tv will still be here when you get back.

    you poor thing. i hope one day she grows up and thanks you for not killing her. this whole thing makes me want to hug my mom.

  3. Oh man, those tantrums can just make you want to find something small, cute, and furry… and torture it awhile. Hang in there, things will probably get better. Or maybe not, I dunno. But hang in there anyway 🙂

  4. What’s really bad is that in between tantrums, we have nothing but whining. Whine, whine, whine. I might just bottle it and serve it with stinky cheese and fancy crackers, we’ve had so much whining.


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