My daughter threw her first tantrum yesterday. She’s one year and five days old. It was a very simple tantrum: I was cutting her nails, and she didn’t like it. She wanted her hand back, she wanted the nail clippers, she wanted to be free. She also very much needed a nap. And so, she cried. This is the first time that I can think of that she has cried for a reason that didn’t have to do with comfort, fear, or hunger.
She was crying because she couldn’t have what she wanted and she would not be consoled. That’s a tantrum. I’m sure she will learn to step up her game in the future, with leg kicking and fist pounding and so forth. This was simply crying to the point of needing to catch her breath. Which, I have to say, it has been a while since she has cried like this. Before, this kind of cry was just in the carseat, because at the beginning, she hated her carseat.
It would have been very easy to give her what she wanted. I could have given her the nail clippers, let her go off with them, and let her play on her own. But, they are nail clippers. They are sharp. They are dangerous. They are not a toy.
They are what she wanted.
I did not give in to her want.
It was not a good thing. To her at least.
I know better than she does. I know where the dangers are.
I could have been soft in setting those boundaries, just this one time, and let her have what she wanted. But what about the next time?
I had to hold this boundary firm, so that I can be soft in other ways.
Because as she cried, I held her. Even as she twisted out of my grip, I let her stand on her own, and held myself open for her. I never let her have the dangerous thing, I didn’t give into her want, but I did offer something better.
This was our first tantrum. It will not be the last.
Because it was the first, I can say that I have done exactly what I wanted every time my daughter has had a tantrum. You can say those kind of things when you’ve only done them once.
There will be tantrums that I give in to. There will be tantrums that I lose my patience. There will be tantrums that I will do the opposite of what I want to do.
I hope to be soft on myself as I learn this parenting gig alongside my daughter. I hope I can show grace to others who are learning as well. I hope that as we learn, we may continue to live into boundaries that allow us to keep our hearts soft towards our children, and those around us.