Me: "What was all that paddying about then?"
Daughter:" It wasn't really about the biscuit, I just needed to say that" (for an hour, apparently, in increasingly higher pitches)
Me: "What was it really about, then?"
Daughter: "It could be anything, really".
I am envious of the sheer joy of the tantrum. How I long to do what she does: just pick a subject, any subject. The slightest slight, the merest askew look, and just roll, roll with it, until the yells and screams and whines have attained their own music and you've forgotten what it actually was all about. How much nicer you must feel when you've stopped. I can see her, enjoying the stopping of it. It is like she is trying on emotions, for size, for later, for adulthood. And of course, that is in a sense exactly what they are doing. How can a child who is happy and looked after truly know "sad"? My refusing to read the damn stupid Charlie and Lola book is not a reason to be sad. Losing a limb or having me burn the book, possibly. But there they are, trying on emotions, seeing how they fit. I once caught daughter in front of the mirror, doing a "sad face" and trying to cry, for no reason whatsoever. Then, suddenly, you're all meant to stop this nonsense, and stop being emotional and behave. This is school. Then you are a teenager, and for a brief flowering, it's suddenly allowed again, everyone expects you to be an emotional see-saw, so you are. Weeping because, in my case, that one out of the Psychadelic Furs was married, or because you were never ever going to get a Lippizaner stallion. Days spent, later, holed up in my room (which I was not allowed, NOT FAIR to paint black), wallowing in misery, listening to the Smiths and inflicting it on everyone else too. Losing my temper when my dad said I looked like Max Wall in my Goth get-up. Crying because some greasy fringed boy with the only motorbike (and thus, only way out) of the village didn't like me. But really, it could have been anything.
Same sort of time in your life, I suppose. Aged 2 to 4, you are trying out being without your mum, trying boundaries. Will she run after me if I sprint off? If she says "Right, that's it, i'm GOING?", how far will she really go? Round the corner? (If you are me, round the corner and then HIDE. Freaks 'em out. They certainly stop yelling). Screaming for attention. Now. And then, teens, not much different. Suddenly awkward again, only with the opposite sex also pointing out you're awkward, and preparing to leave your mum a bit more. You don't get to do it as an adult (with the notable exception of the year I was on a weird contraceptive pill that sent me into hormone overdrive, that was interesting. And the year my thyroid went hyperactive. That was tantrummy AND hallucinatory. People with back to front knees and faces. Which annoyed me.)Hopefully, by the time my two are teens my standard response of ignore, ignore, ignore, then say "What was that all about then?" whilst barely looking up from my sewing/paper/pint will work then, too. I will also know that the biscuit/boy/popstar/teacher isn't the real reason, either. Sometimes,we all just need to yell.