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Mother’s Day Tantrums

May 10, 2009

Amazingly not from me because today, I was an extremely lucky woman.

  • Two extra hours of sleep. 
  • Being awakened gently by my husband (probably as a warning shot) then by two princesses announcing “Happy Mother’s Day”.
  • An amazing pancake breakfast with Vermont maple syrup.
  • A loud day with my 97 year old grandmother, (she is hard-of-hearing.)




Isa seemed to feel good today. It isn’t just everyday that she gets pancakes. She played and had fun in the morning. Is it possible that the mess in the girls room is proportional to the amount of fun?  If so, then they had a blast while I slept.


Even though she seems upbeat, her temper can flair quickly. When she “got sick” I didn’t really have a good grasp on her personality. At barely three she was just coming into her own personality. Up to that point she’d been easy going.  She tends to be snappy, and rude to us and to her sister. We continually work on using her big girl voice when she whines, and letting her know that rudeness will not be tolerated. Sometimes she even gets a time-out. The medications do affect her emotions, so I feel like I am walking a tightrope. The cancer blogs, articles and cancer siblings all say to hold the cancer kids accountable, but it so hard to know when and how to do it.  Of course as with all children a solid amount of sleep and nutritional food make a difference, but on days like today—fun filled and napless—we run into trouble.

We had a major meltdown. It appears as if her fuse is shorter. Anyone who knows our family can attest to our extreme serenity, patience composure and calmness. We can’t imagine from where this tantrum type behavior could stem. [There is  bold, underlined, italicized, larger or smaller typefaces, but some programmer somewhere needs to design a sarcastic font. One that would immediately notify the reader, so that I could use it. Frequently.]

 I remembered an article I read in Mothering when my elder daughter was beginning to express herself, Cry for Connection: A Fresh Approach to Tantrums,  By Patty Wipfler. I have used this technique many times. Although it at first was distressing. As long as I keep her safe, and myself safe (a couple of days ago she bit me) a tantrum will end in hugs. It is a long article but well worth reading from beginning to end—especially for anyone with small tantrum-prone children.

I find it interesting that Ms. Wipfler points out that tantrums occur when children are “growing” in skills, physical, emotional or otherwise. By allowing these tantrums to happen we actually encourage and allow the growth to happen. Obviously she isn’t advocating permissive parenting which is NOT the same as allowing a release to occur.

To recap, Isa has leukemia, a blood cancer. My thinking is that this might be stressful to a three-year-old. (Geez, how long could it take to invent that  font?) We moved to a new city. She goes to the hospital at least every week. She has no hair. She has to wear a mask if we go out. Everyone sort of treats her differently. (Come on people, you do a great job but she still knows. ) Plus she is going through typical three-year-old I-can-do-it-myself-stuff.  Who wouldn’t throw a few good tantrums.

Isa & MamaBeing a mother is such an amazing experience in so many ways. Even cancer has its upside, if you look for it. I appreciate things in such a different way now. So Happy Mother’s Day to all.

One Comment leave one →
  1. natascha tomlinson permalink
    May 11, 2009 4:12 pm

    sometimes just remembering that they are little people and we (ourselves) don’t always have good days — helps me. And, I sometimes feel that i’m looking in the mirror when my children act up and out… Our ‘feelings’ doctor told us that when they have those kind of tantrums, they are in a growth spurt or had something major happen to them via — their eating habits, sleeping habits, or geographical change.. In your case, all the above due to the cancer.

    I applaud your patience….. The love and and hugs they give – cherish. Because when they get older, those become scarce……

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