You know how it is: You were supposed to be out the door for preschool 20 minutes ago, you’re naked and suddenly your mom’s screaming bloody murder about the stable you’re building in the living room for your My Little Ponies using chairs laid on their sides, a laundry basket and wet grass pulled from the backyard (they’ve got to eat right?) Such a drag.
So, what do you do when a parent loses it?
The truth is, some parents are more prone to tantrums than others. If you’re lucky to have one of those mellow moms, more power to you. My mom on the other hand blows a gasket on a regular basis.
Meltdowns for parents are not cause for alarm. They’re simply a way for them to vent frustration when, during their job’s restructuring phase, they’ve been told they now report to someone 15 years their junior.
My mom’s been having tantrums as long as I can remember. When I was a toddler it was so easy to push her to the edge by hurling food off of my high chair in my ‘gravity versus weight ratio’ experiments. You could set your watch by it.
Unfortunately, parental temper tantrums are a part of life but there are ways of preventing them before they start:
Avoid situations likely to ignite a tantrum.
If your mom is on the phone with Budget Car Rental trying to figure out why one full month after she rented a car she’s suddenly being charged for a scratch on the bumper it’s not a good time to sing the The Itsy Bitsy Spider song at the top of your lungs substituting the word “spider” with “poo.” Most moms, I’m sorry to say, cannot appreciate the absurdist utilization of the non sequitur. I, however, think it’s freakin’ hilarious.
Give your parent the illusion of control.
When your parent is desperately trying to do the laundry and get dinner together let them choose if they want to play Candyland 20 times in a row OR engage in a round of Ariel verses the Polly Pocket army. These little choices won’t make much of a difference to you, but they’ll make your parent feel as though they at least some control over their own life — even though we know better.
Let them believe they are the best drivers in the world.
First thing you’ve got to understand about parents: They think everyone is a shitty driver except them. With that in mind they are likely to lose their temper multiple times in one car trip. Calm them down by parroting back exactly what they yell out the window at the offending “crappy” driver. Remember imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
Make sure your parent is well-rested.
A tired parent is a cranky parent. If you got up at 5AM and now it’s 10PM and you’re in the middle of a bedtime filibuster/puppet show your parents are likely to go all Charlie Sheen on your ass. Let them get at least 4 hours of continuous asleep (unless of course you need a drink of water, a doll that’s fallen on the floor, protection from monsters, or just an impromptu chat during the night.)