Like most children her age, my daughter C, knows how to throw a really good tantrum.
She is well into the ‘terrible two’s’ now and whilst on the whole she is an absolute joy to be around, when she loses it, she really loses it. She sinks to her knees, then doubles over towards the floor, bereft. She bangs her chubby hands on the floor in a rousing display of rage. Her cherubim face contorts; it is the end of the world
The reasons for her tantrums are many and varied. She can’t have cake for breakfast. She has to wear her boots when we go out in the rain. I gave her the wrong cup! Her favourite cartoon is not on the telly!
From my perspective, as an adult, her total over reaction to life’s every day set backs is fairly frustrating. I just want to get on with the task in hand. I sooth and console, and sometimes I compromise. But every now and then her reaction is so utterly incongruous that all I can do is laugh.
So when I read about Greg Pembroke’s new book ‘Reasons my kid is crying’, my first reaction was to kick myself for not having thought of it first. In the book, which is a spin-off from his blog, Pembroke shares photos of his son mid-tantrum with witty captions explaining the cause of the upset. The massive disconnect between the look of complete despair on the child’s face and the event that triggered it make for humorous viewing.
Last week, C threw a complete show-stopper of a tantrum. We were at the beach, she dropped some grapes in the sand and when I insisted that we wash them, she lost it. Apparently she wanted to eat sandy grapes.
First she scowled, then the howled, then she threw herself face first into the sand. With limbs flailing, and sand flying it really was quite a dramatic display. I had a good laugh, and inspired by Pembroke’s book, I took a photo.
Later, while C slept, I looked through the photos from our day. There was a picture of her laughing as she ran towards the sea, one of her concentrating as she built sandcastles, and then there was her tantrum. Sand clung to her angst filled face, her mouth grimaced. Her eyes starred straight back at me – she was in pain.
Suddenly it didn’t seem so funny. I abandoned all thoughts of posting it on my blog, and started to feel quite uncomfortable about having taken it in the first place.
For me, it all comes down to perspective. As adults we have a lifetime of experience behind us, when we suffer a set back, we can draw on our experience to give us perspective – we know it’s not the end of the world. But toddlers, who are only just starting to fill their memory banks with their own life experiences don’t share that same sense of perspective.
To them, a set-back, however minor it may seem, is the end of the world. Their reactions are genuine. They are in pain. And as their parents, I think we owe them some compassion.
I won’t be sharing the ‘my kid is crying because I washed the sand off her grapes’ photo. There are plenty of other jokes to tell without offering up the distress of my child. Will I still find some private amusement in the ridiculous reasons for C’s tantrums? Probably. I am only human.
So, where do you stand on sharing photos of your kids throwing tantrums on social media? Okay or a little embarrassing?