Two MAJOR tantrums from Boy #1 this evening - to the extent that I am just about wrung out. And why? Well, have you got a moment?
Tantrum #1 - let's call it Tantrum Isaac, since that is how far down the alphabet I believe we've travelled since the beginning of term - probably rated a 4 on the scale. It blew up out of a relatively cloudless sky shortly after bath time. Admittedly, it did follow a short squall over dinner that dissapated amazingly quickly once gingerbread cake was promised for pudding if all the main course of gnocchi was eaten, but there was no hint of the mayhem that then followed when I refused to top up Boy #1's milk immediately, the moment he asked for it. I was making a telephone call, and asked him to wait a couple of minutes, hence the sudden and unexpected visit from Isaac.
I dealt with it as best I could, confining the eye of the storm to his room for 5 long minutes of time out, during which time Isaac blew itself out with shouts of 'Milk! Milk! Milk!', 'I'm not your best boy any more, mama!' and the classic 'I've been in here for HOURS!' We made up, apologies and kisses were given, calm was restored, and normal service was resumed.
Or so I thought.
Isaac may have been powerful, however, but it was nothing compared to Tantrum Jeremiah, which arrived 20 minutes later when I switched off the television 7 minutes earlier than normal. I wouldn't usually do this - both my Boys look forward to their tv probably more than they should - but Nick Jr were showing seven, yes, that's SEVEN, minutes of adverts before the next scheduled programme, and whilst I'm OK with the boys sitting through a couple of minutes of pleas to buy the latest Power Ranger / Hot Rod / Baby Born / Gameboy etc, 7 minutes seemed just a little excessive and rather manipulative no matter what the time of year.
So, I switched it off.
My oh my, Jeremiah was what I believe they call a Doozy. Screaming, shouting, pleading, throwing himself on the floor, you name it; it must have registered a 5 on the Tantrum scale. Clearly, Boy #1 was over-tired, and the simplest thing would just have been to give in and turn the blasted box back on, but I couldn't, for two very simple reasons.
Firstly, if I give in to that behaviour then I am making a rod for my own back in the future; being consistent and sticking to your guns is one of the only ways to exert control over your children, so I knew that if I gave in I had lost not just this but many future confrontations.
And secondly, who was standing wide-eyed, watching the whole performance? Boy #2. Who, just for the record, had already been sent to the Naughty Chair (for spitting out his food and repeatedly getting down from the table) during dinner. So it was doubly important that he also saw justice being carried out for his brother.
Tantrum Jeremiah was sent to blow itself out in Boy #1's bedroom. It took a little longer than it's predecessor, but it did die down eventually, and is now all forgotten by my beloved older son.
Whilst it was dying down I had Boy #2 on my lap in another room, and was calmly trying to explain to a spooked two year old that his brother was fine, would be OK in a couple of minutes, that mama was not a monster (OK, I didn't say that but - even though I knew I was doing the right thing - it felt like I was being one), and that Time Out was what happens when you behave badly like that.
I don't know about you, but when Husband and I became parents, we agreed that smacking / hitting / physically punishing our children was not on the agenda. You don't hit an adult, we reasoned, so why would you hit someone whom you supposedly love even more than life, who is defenceless, and who is less than half your size?
I still believe that, really I do. And I still believe that Time Out is the most effective and the best way of dealing with these situations.
But god, it's exhausting being the Grown-Up sometimes.