It was on Christmas eve few years back when we had close family friends visiting over and my house was buzzing with fun and laughter, just what you want for holidays. The tree was decked up and lit, milk and cookies were left for Santa and some carrots for the reindeer too, the garage became a gift wrapping station, the kids sang jingles along with the radio and there was ample sugar goodies to keep everyone happy. When the gifts were opened on the Christmas morning, there was a little pink skirt gifted to my little girl from her favorite aunt. I remember the twinkle in her eyes upon seeing the skirt. She tried it on immediately, twirled in it while watching the frills move along with her. She touched the sequins at the end of the frills almost mesmerized by it. Her eyes glowed as bright as the glitter in the fabric. The gift from Santa, mom and dad and the grandparents sat opened but ignored near the tree.
She asked if she could keep the skirt on. Of course, I said. She wore it that entire day, slept in it that night and wore it for the next two days. Taking it off only while taking a shower. All negotiations to part with the skirt even to get it washed and cleaned did not work. The aunt who had gifted the skirt tried her tricks – the sequins will come off, you won’t be able to wear it your friend’s birthday party and the likes of that. That did not work either. My mom, being the grandparent felt we should leave the little girl alone. She was only four and after all it was Christmas, the holiday time. Everyone did what they liked.
On the fourth day however, she refused to take it off even for her shower. We had a mother-daughter argument behind the closed doors of the bathroom. I remember her being absolutely mad at me that day. The shower had come to my respite. The coolness of the water washed it all off. When we came out of the bathroom, she was wearing another pretty dress, her face still grumpy and eyes welled with tears. Her favorite aunt looked at us with almost a guilt – I wish I had gotten something else as a gift.
Later that day we went to a beach. My little girl soon forgot about the pink skirt, her moment with me in the bathroom and how accidentally her own hand had turned the shower on and drenched her and her pink skirt. When she was done playing at the beach and it was almost time to go home, I called for her. “I need to teach you a little magic.”
We went towards the ocean. I asked her to make a fist. “Remember, you told me you get angry and you don’t know why. Whenever you get angry, make a fist, put all your anger there and then open the fist and let it all go. You can pretend to put in the sand, throw it in the ocean or just in the air. I promise, it will not come back to you.”
Many have laughed at me for teaching something so philosophical to someone so young. I leave it to you to form your opinion.
Two years later, she has another new pink skirt with sequins at the bottom, her aunt still gifts her a special dress every single year and we no longer need to tell her when she needs to open her fist. She does it by herself. Most of the times she is able to identify that she is getting severely angry or upset. She has found her techniques too. She makes peace with a cold drink, drinking water helps. Taking a shower helps. Asking her to smile helps. Playing the piano or making a colorful artwork helps. She loves to write, letters and notes to us. Expression in any different form helps curb the temperament. Even crying is ok. Yes, for most part it helps relieve a lot of emotions.
Few days back, I overheard a conversation she was having with her toddler sibling “Don’t get mad at me. It is not good to be angry.” She gently held his hand, made a fist and helped him open it up. “Feeling happy ? Right. I told ya! “
Epilogue : I have toiled with this post for very long. It is easy to write glorified things about your loved ones and yourself. It is not quite easy to be forthcoming about other things. But as a parent I choose not to be blinded specially when I see this all around, when I deal with it myself. Anger issues happens at all ages and is so very common in adults. But it can be curbed early on. Mind you ,temper and tantrum have a fine line between them and both are not the same. Temper however short-lived always creates a negative impression, is usually hurtful. So why not confront it early on. I come forward with this post today because I know many parents may have a similar story to tell and I am sure they would have devised better techniques than I did.
Story Credit : Piya Mukherjee.