Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tantrum Theology a.k.a Why Monkey Shouldn't Have to Clean Her Room

It started our innocently enough.  The Engineer told the girls to clean their room.  We've had a long-standing problem with Monkey playing while Hedgehog cleaned the whole room, so he divided the room in half, assigning each child a half.

Monkey exploded.

By the time I arrived, the full force of her five year old fury was on display.  She was crying, kicking and screaming about the unfairness of the system.

"Her half is smaller and has less stuff," Monkey shrieked, loudly enough to be heard by the entire tri-state area.*

The phone rang.  It was Belle-Mère.  The Engineer left the room to talk with his mother as I tried to reason with Monkey while Hedgehog swiftly and steadily cleaned her half of the room.

After completing her half of the room, Hedgehog got on the phone with Belle-Mère.  Seeing this, Monkey screeched that she wanted to talk on the phone, too.  I explained that she would have to stop yelling to talk on the phone.  This proclamation was answered with an ear-splitting shriek that instantly terminated her telephone privileges.

She was sent back to her room with orders to stay until it was cleaned, or she would not get to dine with the rest of us.

Defiant, she crossed her arms and shouted "I will NOT clean, I WILL eat dinner and I WILL call Belle-Mère!"  She refused to even return to her room until I counted to number two of three.

From her room, she continued to rail about unfairness, until she suddenly changed strategies.  The cries were now "I can't do it, I can't help it, I just can't do it!" in a most pained, overly-dramatic way.

She burst from her room and ran to me.  "Mommy, I can't do it, I can't help it.  My brain's not right for it!  I'm not smart for cleaning!"

I told her she was a very smart kindergartner and she certainly could clean.

I picked her up, put her in my lap, and said "Monkey, whose hands are these?", holding hers up for inspection.

"God's" she answered.

Recovering far slower than I would've liked, I said "Well, who did God give these hands to?"


"That's right.  And you can use them for fun things like playing with your toys AND for cleaning your room."

"But I don't like to do that" she whined.

"I know.  That happens sometimes.  Mommy doesn't like doing the laundry.  But these,"  I plucked at her pants, "were clean and folded and in your drawer this morning, right?"

"Yeah", she said sullenly.

"So what does that mean?"

"You really do like laundry?"

"No," I chuckled, "I still don't like laundry.  But we all have to do things sometimes that we don't like.  It's part of growing up.  Understand?"

She gave me a grudging nod.  I sent her, still sniffling, back to her room to clean it.

I smiled at the Engineer, mentally patted myself on the back and contemplated sending my story to ScreamFree Parenting.

Then Monkey screamed, "I don't know why God made me this way!"

It took another hour and a half of screaming, kicking and throwing before she finally cleaned her room.

I may need to go to seminary before her next fit.

* Obscure Phineas and Ferb reference


  1. I can relate! I have a 5YO who screams like he's being poked with a knife when he has to do something he doesn't want to do. I thought tantrums were supposed to end in toddlerhood? Ugh.

  2. She's got a point, I have to hand it to her. ;)

  3. OMG, this scares me! My daughter is only 2.5, but based on her behavior now I can totally see this in my future. This? Is why I was freaked out when I found out we were having a girl. The drama. I don't like drama!

    Well handled, though, Mama! I think you must have left the part out where you poured yourself a stiff drink! ;)


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