Saturday, July 18, 2015

Teenage Tantrum Meltdown

“If you don’t stop it this instance, I’m going to smack you!” Of all the sentences Mum used during the ten minute spat with Son in the supermarket, this was the only one that did not contain swear words.

Son was probably no more than 6-years-old and had thrown a tantrum because Mum, had not bought him a box of miniature cereal packets. He was so vexed that he threw a tsunami of tantrums - wiping everything on the display shelves to the floor and following it up with a screaming fit and throwing himself to the floor at the check-out counter.

Of course everybody had an opinion to offer. “Bad parenting” said one. “I blame the schools. The system has broken down” one chirped. Another said: “A good stroke of the cane would sort him out.” But I was in awe because in my days, at the first hint of a tantrum, Zeye’s left hand would have been quick to swing into action to neutralise the situation.”

We have all thrown tantrums. We threw them when we were kids and through school and at university. In our jobs today, we are still throwing them. Some of them are controlled while others, border on the tsunami like that of Son.

I think I was 7 when I last threw an extreme childhood tantrum brought on by a falling out with Mum. As she left my room, I sat on the bed seething and frothing at the mouth. And then just like that, it happened. I snapped and went into a rage in which, I tore up everything I came across including a new shirt I had been given. I was like Hurricane Katrina’s long ignored step-sister for it was brutal and nasty that when I was done, the damage freaked me out.      

On this occasion, Mum perhaps felt she had be hard on me and had returned to is say all is forgiven until she saw the destruction. She stood there, in shock and probably thinking this is not one for Zeye’s left hand alone to handle. This requires convening an elders or clan meeting and input from the best doctor at Butabika – just to be on the safe side.

I expected a walloping of a lifetime but this time, I didn’t get one. I was merely handed a needle and thread and told to start sewing back together the new shirt which, had been relieved of pockets, sleeves, buttons and collar.

I tried and though the end result was pathetic, Mum didn’t complain. She simply smiled and took the shirt away with her.

Months later when all was forgotten, as we got dressed to go on an outing, my sisters were given new dresses. I too got a new shirt – well kind of a new shirt. It was the shirt I had ripped to shreds during my extreme tantrum fit and told to sew back together.

Mum made me wear the shirt and I cried. I cried louder as I was dragged to the car and we set off to go and visit family friends. One sleeve fell off no sooner had I sat in the ride, while the rest of the shirt fell apart sometime into the journey.

Rounding the corner to our destination, panic set in and I cried even more. My sisters were also in a panic, but there was nothing they could do.

At the house, the gate was closed and as we waited for it to open, Mum swung me nonchalant looks. And just as they opened, she reached under her seat and pulled out a new shirt.

Though I still throw tantrums, that day marked the last time that I threw one – extreme or otherwise at my parents.