This morning, I met peace over the litter box. My younger son, a floor above me, was 15 minutes into a rant about damage to a Nerf sword, and I was working hard to keep my cool. Not everyone may choose scooping cat poop during these events, but I’ve yet to find ways to consistently keep my cool during these loud, protracted tantrums, so I gave it a go. It worked.
My younger’s tantrum verge on the legendary. They’re long, loud, aggressive, and sudden. Eight and a half years of these beauties should have inoculated me against their effects on my heart, but time hasn’t helped. (Okay, they were nonverbal for the first year, but at what age does protracted unexplained screaming morph from colic to tantrum?) He’s inconsolable, angry, and out of control during the events, and they generally just have to run out of fuel on their own. On my best days, I can keep my cool for the duration, keeping my voice even and expressing what I imagine his feelings are (he doesn’t use those confusing feeling words often) while he interrogates me relentlessly, looking for the answer he wants and erupting more when I don’t give in.
Until today, ear plugs have been my best defense. I can hold my temper better when my ear drums aren’t threatening to explode. While I wish a hug and open ear helped him, these tactics only fan the flames. Answering a few questions to assure his understanding then refusing to continue the conversation seems the best tact. So I often move around the house, cooking, cleaning, and tending to simple tasks while I wait out the storm.
Today, I headed toward the litter box. With six kittens in my charge, there is no shortage of poop to scoop. Once by the basement box, I search through the sand with my blue scoop. His voice fades a bit with the distance, and I sift through the box for telltale clumps. It’s oddly soothing, and soon my mind is only on those stinky lumps of clay. Too soon, the job ends. After reluctantly setting down my scoop and tossing my findings, I return to the tantrum still in play. It’s easier now to weather the storm. His raging continues for another 20 minutes or so, but my storm is past, thanks to the litterbox.