At our garage sale today, this boy wanted to buy some of my old Matchbox cars. When his mom said no, he threw a grand mal temper tantrum–yelling and crying abusively. “I WANT MY CARS!!!” he screamed at her, along with other stuff, for at least ten minutes. Meanwhile, she gently tried to explain herself to him in a calm and quiet voice…which was totally futile. The kid needed…well, that’s not very PC today.
“I WANT MY CARS!!!”
The kid went berzerk. It went on, and on, and on. The whole neighborhood could hear the kid screaming stuff at his mom, and she just let him go. Apparently, the mom graduated from the Young Kids Respond to Reason School of Parenting.
So they’re standing beside their van, grandparents in front, probably terribly embarrassed by this huge temper tantrum, waiting for the kid to calm down and for everyone to climb in the van so they could drive away. Everyone around looking at each other with expressions that said, “Can you believe this? Why does she allow it?”
Finally, probably the only person there who didn’t have kids–ME–took action. I walked out to the van. “Hey,” I said, getting the boy’s attention. He stopped berating his mom and looked straight at me. “I’m NOT going to sell you my cars,” I told him in a firm voice.
A blank, bewildered expression spread across his face. And the temper tantrum immediately stopped. Just like that. Magic.
Was it a male voice? Or just a voice speaking to him with authority? (Mom and Pam said that if they, as women, had told the boy the same thing, it would have had no affect.)
And what was the back story with this mom and child? How did they get to that level of dysfunction? Was he one of these modern kids who, if his mom had touched him at all, would have cried, “That’s child abuse!” Was there a dad in the picture at all? Custody issues? Did the kid have some kind of medical or psychological condition? I have no idea. Hate to be too judgmental and simplistic about how to deal with a situation I know nothing about.
The whole thing was astounding and perplexing. And it reminded my parents that, because they had three boys with mild temperaments, they had it pretty easy.