One of my favorite put-downs has always been “What, are you two years old or something?”
Lately, however, I have been rethinking the wisdom of this phrase. My grandniece, who really is two years old, has helped me to see the error of my ways. If I put aside the likelihood of public embarrassment for a moment, I am forced to admit that I am jealous of her.
A couple of years ago, in one of my early posts on this blog, I took issue with a former boss who claimed that she wanted to be six years old again. As I recall, I recited a litany of reasons for my disagreement with that point of view. I stated that I enjoy being an adult, thank you, and would never wish to return to a time when I could make none of my own decisions and was subject to the whims of those around me.
Okay, so I was wrong. Admitting to one’s mistakes is supposed to be a grown-up thing, right?
On second thought, I don’t want to be six again like my old boss did. I want to be two again.
My current boss says that one of the reasons she chose me to work for her is that I am mature. I told her that she must not know me very well.
This evening, my little grandniece schooled me well and truly. For reasons not totally understood by me (and probably not even by herself), she decided to throw an unholy fit right here in the living room. I’m talking about a regular kicking and screaming, crying and carrying-on tantrum. I believe it was set off by being provided with a bite of an ice cream rather than having the entire ice cream handed over to her, as she felt was her due. (Although the real reason that she put on this show probably runs a whole lot deeper. Doesn’t it always?)
I thought the whole thing was killer cool. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to freely express our emotions in a manner that included throwing ourselves on the floor and yelling “Mommy! Mommy! Moooommmmmyyyyyy!” for, oh, about ten minutes or so?
It would be ridiculous for an adult to do this, of course. Or would it? It might sound silly to you now, but I bet you’d feel better when you were done.
I know next to nothing about psychology, but I’ve heard that Gestalt therapy sometimes trucks in exercises like this. Why not? I remember my high school psych teacher telling the class about scream therapy, which has to be a near cousin of the tantrum.
Know what the best part is? After a few minutes of leaving my grandniece to her histrionics, my wife picked her up, carried her over to my wife’s chair and proceeded to rock and cuddle her. She quieted down almost immediately. My wife says that my grandniece gets so upset that she is no longer able to calm herself down. I think this is true of adults as well, but we instead try to calm ourselves in decidedly insalubrious ways such as drinking, doing drugs, overeating, gambling. shopping, engaging in passive-aggressive behavior or general bitchiness. I daresay that my grandniece’s method of letting it all out is far more healthy than nearly any employed by adults (and cheaper, too).
I really might be tempted to try it, if only to prove that I’m not as mature as people think I am. My problem would be how to get my fat behind onto the carpet and how, with my bum knees, to drag myself back up again afterward. I wonder if the true statute of limitations on tantrum throwing is not age but weight.
Adults are expected to act their chronological ages, and failure to do so is met by sanctions ranging from shunning to being locked up in a mental hospital where you can freely do your tantrum thing in a padded cell. No one can reasonably expect to be rewarded for throwing a good old-fashioned tantrum, and certainly not by a cuddle and a kiss.
Unless, of course, you’re two years old.
Which is why I urge my family to save some money when my birthday rolls around by not buying those three boxes of candles. This year, maybe they won’t have to burn through a whole box of matches and keep the fire department on standby.
After all, I only need two candles on my birthday cake. Just don’t buy me any Frozen or Little Mermaid merchandise as presents.
You wouldn’t want me to throw a tantrum now, would you?