Tantrum Tantrum

I come from quite a large family by today’s standards. I’m the second of 9 children, all of which come from the same two parents. We older kids not only babysat, but taught and instructed the younger ones as they came along. From shoe tying to reading to tree climbing to prayers before bed, they got that from us. For a bunch of kids who lived out in the middle of nowhere we had pristine manners and curious intellects.

What we didn’t learn how to do was talk back, be disrespectful, and throw temper tantrums. You’re probably laughing to yourself, saying that every kid knows how to throw a tantrum, but you’d be wrong.

When my little brother Charles was in kindergarten or first grade (I can’t remember which) he was cast in a Christmas play. In his role he had to throw a tantrum in the beginning and by the end he was supposed to be a reformed child. Everyone knew their lines, but it wasn’t until the first full rehearsal that we realized we had a problem. The drama teacher gave the cue for the tantrum to begin, and …nothing. She kept telling him Charles it’s okay this time, you are allowed to throw a fit right now, it’s just for the play. But he didn’t know how. He didn’t even know where to begin. The drama teacher didn’t believe him. She came to us siblings where we were painting sets and asked why he wouldn’t do it. We just shrugged and told her he’d never thrown a tantrum. He didn’t even know how.

With disbelief still etched across her face she went back to the stage and proceeded to instruct my little brother on what a temper tantrum would look like. By the end of rehearsals several weeks later, he had it down to a science.

My brother learned how to throw a temper tantrum from a teacher for a play. Why can’t more kids be that way? I’ve had my share of youthful rebellions and confrontation, but I’ve never thrown a tantrum. With the exception of the fake tantrum for that play, none of my siblings ever threw a tantrum.

Why?

Because we were never allowed. It would never have even entered our minds as a possibility! It would never have been tolerated. And we just weren’t that disrespectful. We were taught to mind our manners and respect not only our parents but anyone older than ourselves. This is lost on our current generation. Even the best kids I know where I teach have thrown tantrums. And their parents don’t even care – it’s just part of the daily grind. How is this okay? Why is this generation being brought up without any sense of respect? I can’t help but to find it disgusting, and disheartening for the future.

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