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Headaches & Tantrums

When I got home from work yesterday, my head was pounding - the kind of headache that pain killers don't touch. This was the moment my daughter unleashed a full on, 20 minute, scream competition winning, angry at the known world, tantrum.

It all started because my daughter had barely been drinking all day. She has been just getting over a cold, and I, because I wanted my daughter to you know, "feel better", offered her a cup of water, even from her favourite Montreal Canadiens cup. She proceeded to show her gratitude by launching herself off the couch, and kicking the cup of water out of my hand with ninja like accuracy. (Dear Leaf fans, you can insert your joke here.)

A few minutes later, after a mutual break from each other, I sat her down to eat dinner. She was hungry. I knew, as a parent, that she was pretty angry because she was hungry and thirsty. She needed food. I am afraid that my condition, which I like to call "Bruce Bannerism", a condition that turns me into a raging beast when I don't eat food, has been genetically passed onto my child.

She refused to eat anything. She was screaming "NO!" She was swinging her arms trying to hit me when I got close to her. In my head I'm thinking "listen kid, eat some freaking food and you'll feel better". There is no rationalizing with a toddler. I offered her a piece of candy as a reward - "NO!" I offered her juice, milk and water - "NO!" I used my stern Dad voice - "NO!" I used my nice Dad voice - "NO!"

A two and a half year old's stubbornness is a more sophisticated prison than the most modern penitentiary.

I made her favourite; a peanut butter and banana sandwich, and placed it in front of her. I poured her a class of premium Florida orange juice and waited.

Push the plate and cup away.

Scream. Scream. Scream. Scream.

Ask Daddy for her plate and cup back.

Push the plate and cup away.

Scream. Scream. Scream. Scream.


Patience is a gift of God. I don't know where else the patience that I felt came from. I was tempted to run full speed into a wall. There was this voice in my head telling me there was a lesson in all of this.

I knew what my daughter needed. She needed food. She also needed to calm down. She needed me to step back and come to the understanding of her need on her own.

Finally, a small bite. "Surprise! Oh, you're HUNGRY and the food is making you FEEL BETTER?" I thought to myself. She stopped crying. She started to smile: "Oh, this food is so good! Thank you Daddy!" She downed a glass of juice.

Was the madness finally over?

Bath time is always a lot of fun, and last night she loved her bath like always. However, at the end of her bath, I took her out and attempted to put a towel around her. Please note the pure insanity of the following conversation that represents the madness that is parenthood.

"Holly, you're cold, here I have a towel for you so you can be warm."
"NO! I don't want the towel!"
"You don't want the towel? But, you're shivering, you're cold, let me warm you up."
I wrapped the towel around her and started to dry her off. This act of warming up my wet cold daughter caused her to start shouting and yelling at me.

I used my stern Dad voice and this time it worked. "There is a time to cry, and this isn't one of those times." She stopped crying immediately. It was a slight victory in the battlefield that was my evening.

It was now time for bed. It was TIME for bed, but apparently my daughter decided it was not TIME for bed. The food and bath fueled her like a person intent on running a marathon. My daughter usually falls asleep around 8:00. We read some stories, watched a little bit of narcissistic Toopy and benevolent Binoo, and finally it was time for bed. I had it all planned out. I would put her down, warm up a heat pack, and lay down on my bed. My bed, oh my glorious bed, to which I would experience the silence of the saints. It was getting close to 8:30, my wife would be home from work in about an hour. I just had to stay alive for 1 more hour before the toddler whisperer arrived. I was in the home stretch!

That is until my daughter pulled down all the books from her book shelf to build a make shift ladder to get her glass snow globe from the top shelf.

I wasn't even mad, I was actually impressed. When I walked in her room she was pretty happy with herself: "Look at what I did!"

Take glass objects away from bookshelf. Remove book ladder. Put child back to sleep.

My wife came home and rescued me from being mauled while trying to calm her down in bed. She chatted to herself for almost another two hours, and finally fell asleep. When I went into her room this morning, she was dancing to the music from her Leapfrog Violet doll. The blessings outweigh the stresses 100 to 1. I wouldn't trade being a father for literally anything in the world.

It's a weird thing being a parent, it starts to put things into divine perspective. You see, I wonder how much my life is like that of my toddler. You wise parents will probably read my story and pick out things that I did wrong, or find some fault in the way I handled things; but during the entire ordeal, I kept feeling like God was reminding me of who I am, and who he is. I wonder how many times God listens to me seethe and cry over being hungry, knowing fully that if I would just trust and find my fulfillment in him that I would truly be happy. I wonder how many times I am spiritually cold and miserable, when he just wants to warm my soul with his Church, his word and his spirit. I know this sounds cliche, but I can't help but think we sometimes live in a world which is so out of sync with what is best for us.

Even at the end of the chaos yesterday, I went to bed thanking God for my daughter, for teaching me patience and helping me experience a new perspective on life, and a new knowledge of the love of God the Father. My love is very imperfect. Nonetheless, it continues to remind of the perfect love that God has for his children.

If you are getting angry about something in your life, maybe it's a good time to ask the questions: Is God trying to feed me, teach me, heal me, comfort me, or draw close to me? Do I trust God that he knows what is best for me? Do I demand to control my life, or do I believe there is someone more loving, knowledgeable and wise that might actually want what is best?


Sue said…
This is such a great post! It made me smile, nod and agree that there are absolutely times when I am the screaming toddler in the story. Thanks for sharing.

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