I was barely through the door when the scream erupted from her cupid bow mouth. She shouted protests and raised her voice as I set my keys upon the ledge. In the stalemate with her mother, she was emphatic about her position: she would not leave the room. When this position gained no ground, she hurled another scream upon the roof beams and shook the house with an aching tantrum. Welcome home, Dad.
I listened for awhile as Jeanette calmly told Jordan she could not handle the dog that way. I listened as Jordan’s volcanic assertions escalated into thrashing thunders of condemnation and foulness. Jeanette’s voice remained calm and rational. The girl’s voice shrieked and wavered out of control.
Finally, I stepped into the doorway. I watched her dig her heels into the hard wood. She knew I was watching, but she gave me no attention. She repeated a phrase over and over. “I wanted to watch that show.” Jeanette reasoned about the infraction. Jordan intoned her testimony. “I wanted to watch that show.” She was so far out of line, reason reasoned restraint, but she could not muster an ounce of reason or restraint. I stood still and watched her writhe. Finally, I said, “Jordan, you need to go to your room to calm down.”
– No, I will not go.
– You need to go to your room.
– I want to watch my show!
– Either you walk to your room, or I carry you … drag you … whatever, but you will go to your room.
– I don’t want you to carry me. I want to watch my show.
Her behavior accelerated. She heaved with heavy sighs and waving arms. I stood still.
– Jordan, go to your room.
I knew nothing about what had transpired. I only spied my daughter in a state of animation.
– No! I am staying here to watch my show. You can’t drag me to my room.
I walked over to her. Bent over and cradled my arms under her legs and back. She seemed to let me. I carried her … as she would say, “like a bride,” to her room. She didn’t fight me. She scowled with jowly cheeks. I set her down gently on her bed. As I closed her door, she hurled another wretched scream. It bounced around the hallway and struck me in the behind. She screamed of murder and tortuous angst and furled it against the walls to rattle the house. I walked.
In an hour, she was asleep. The tantrums come sometimes. They have no meaning. They defy logic. And the only way to manage them is to just be calm, to let her be. Tomorrow, she will rise and greet me with a smile. She will make my coffee and join me for an egg and we will chat about trivialities. She might tell me she is sorry. Maybe. She feels it, and sometimes she lets me know. When she does, I just nod … sometimes touch her hand … and love her because she feels and lives and lets her emotions run. It isn’t always pleasant, but it is her. And I love her.