When we were cuddling in bed he was still miserable so I thought we should have a conversation about it. I am going to go into the pedantic details to illustrate how difficult it was for me to move away from my adult thinking.
Me: You still look sad
Me:What are you sad about?
Arjuna: I really didn’t want you to use that piece of toilet paper.
Me: Is that all you’re sad about?
Me: (convinced that he couldn’t really be upset about something so “trivial”)
Are you sad that I had the last TV turn and then it was too late for you to have a turn before bed?
Arjuna: Yes I’m sad about that too.
Me: What else are you sad about?
Arjuna: (getting frustrated) I told you. I didn’t want you to use the piece of toilet paper.
Me: But you told me too late and it was just a piece of toilet paper we've got rolls of it.
Arjuna: But I wanted to do something else with it.
Me: Oh? (The penny finally drops that it is something about that specific piece of toilet paper) Was that piece of paper different?
Arjuna: Yes (in the “grown-ups can be so stupid” tone of voice). It looked like a dinosaur tooth. I wanted to play with it.
I apologised for not understanding. Then we talked about how toilet paper wouldn't have worked that well as a dinosaur tooth anyway and discussed other materials that we could use to make dinosaur teeth the next morning. He fell asleep happy.
I on the other hand spent a long time tossing and turning, thinking about how easy it is to screw up on this parenting journey. To me it was just a piece of toilet paper and I was frustrated by the amount of energy being wasted over something so insignificant. To him I had flushed a dinosaur tooth down the toilet and that was unforgivable.
Every single time a child throws a tantrum there could be and probably is so much more going on inside of them than what we see through our blinkers. How often do we look at something like that and think, “I don’t have the energy for this crap at 10pm.”
Then we moan at them for throwing tantrums about stupid things, or ignore them, or assume that they are just over tired and focus on getting them to sleep, leaving so much unresolved.
The next time you see a child throwing a tantrum ask yourself, “Am I missing the dinosaur tooth?”