Tempering temper tantrums with tea.


When my daughter was around 3, she had her first hissy fit over some perceived slight. It could have been over something silly like that I didn’t take her to gran’s house after a play date or didn’t stop for ice cream, I don’t remember why.

She stormed into the dining room and threw herself onto the floor, kicking and screaming, bawling her eyes out. The noise was deafening and unexpected. I had never seen someone lose their shit to this magnitude before, least of all a sweet little person I loved to bits. I was completely perplexed. 

My visceral reaction to having someone go batshit crazy on me is instantaneous anger. I can go from 0 – 100 faster than you can say “Lamborghini”. Luckily for all concerned, I did the unexpected. I took my anger to the kitchen and made a cup of tea. Then I stepped over the body that was writhing on the floor, with not so much as a glance, and continued to my room.

I gently closed the door behind me, set my cup carefully down on the bedside table with shaking hands, picked up a book and tried to concentrate on the words swimming in front of my tear filled eyes. I felt that I had failed somehow. What had I done that could make her react so horribly? Why was she so angry at me and why did I feel angry at her?

After what felt like hours but was only minutes, I heard a timid knock on my bedroom door. I answered “Come in,” and there stood a red-faced, tearstreaked, snotty-nosed piece of my heart that lives outside of my body. It stood there looking confused momentarily and without another glance, I suggested this little person should give her hands and face a good scrub and then return. I was buying time because I still didn’t know what my response should be but I knew it shouldn’t be anger.

A few minutes later, a freshly scrubbed child stood shyly next to my bed and I smiled at her and patted the pillow next to me and asked if she would like to get in. She was in the bed like a flash and I offered her a sip of my tea – after all, I assumed wailing banshees must get pretty thirsty.

I pretended to read my book as she took small, noisy slurps of tea in between the hiccups she had managed to get from crying. Then I turned to her and asked softly, “Are you done shouting now?” to which she had the temerity to look embarrassed and replied softly back, “Yes.”  And then I explained to her how she had more words in her vocabulary than most children her age, that she was a very clever little so-and-so who had no problem articulating clearly in English, much to the surprise of many when she won a speech contest at the same age, and choosing to scream at me was counterproductive because I didn’t speak wail.

My daughter is almost a teenager now and over the years, I have had post it notes, letters, emails and even what’s app texts from the other room but I have never had a knock down screaming tantrum again.

My children have learned In Case Of Emergency, make tea. Bad grade? Failed a test you were reminded to study for and didn’t? Note from a teacher? In trouble with Dad? Tell Mom, wait for the initial incredulous outburst and then go make tea. By the time you return, Mom has devised a strategy to help you fix the problem and you can both sit down and iron it all out. 

After all, who can shout over a good cup of tea?


There is no substitute for a loving parent.


Who wins when custody courts decide that a previously loving, fun, awesome parent will now get 4 days out of every month (!) to spend with a child they used to tuck in every night, read stories to, do homework with, engage with in discussions of politics, car mechanics, physics and the abstract notion of why farts smell and tears are salty? Why does the World go through such extreme measures to keep decent, loving parents out of their children’s lives?

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