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Sunday, February 10, 2013


I know the east coast is fussing about snow storms, but my attention has been on people storms lately.  Sudden changes always cause disruption in the usual order of business, and there’s nothing quite like the boss dying suddenly to stir up the pot.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s been less than a month since the world turned upside down.  I know things will settle down again, but I wish it would settle a bit quicker.

Sometimes I’m reminded that grownups aren’t all that different from children.  When we’re babies, we cry and someone feeds us.  Anything we want, all we have to do is cry and someone comes running.  All we have to do is smile once in a while at our adult slaves.  It’s a perfect system.

Some people never grow out of this reward system, and the older people get, the more tools they have to annoy the rest of us into obedience.  This has often put me in the role of teaching limits of adult patience and cooperation, but I have 4 younger brothers and I used to be a substitute teacher in middle school.  Want to test my ability to withstand a storm?  Go ahead.  Try me.

One time, I took my niece to the mall.  I didn’t realize it was the first time she’d been to a mall, and I had forgotten about all those things at kid level designed to make adults insane.  “I want!  I want!” started increasing in decibels.  I let her play one of those stupid claw machines.  I told her in advance that the game is rigged, but she wanted to play, and I let her.  Then she wanted to play it again.  “No, I don’t think so.  Let’s go to the park.”

We had this, ahem, “discussion” in one of those wide echoing hallways where every old lady walks past.  Screaming bloody murder wasn’t achieving my niece’s stated goal so she threw herself on the terrazzo floor and repeatedly kicked the machine and screamed a lot more.

“Is everything alright??” “Yes, everything’s fine” I answered every scandalized mall-walker.  After a while, I quit looking embarrassed and apologetic.  If every parent would have this showdown with their kids, the rest of us wouldn’t have to be putting up with their tantrums.  In fact, they should just get it over with quick, when the kids are still small enough to pick up and haul out to the parking lot, which sadly, was not the case with my niece.  I waited it out.

In another conversation on the brink of another storm my niece demanded that I spend my hard-earned money on something I didn’t want to buy.  “You can afford it!!”  “Why yes, I can.  That’s not the point.  It’s not good for you to get everything you want.  You’ll end up spoiled.”  She didn’t understand “spoiled” so I reminded her of Grandma’s compost pile of rotten apples.  “Do you want to be like that?”  “No-ooo…?”

Don’t get me wrong, I spent plenty on indulging this kid, and I gave her plenty of love.  We had a lot of fun spending our quarters at garage sales and eating out at restaurants.  After a while she learned how to plan her indulgences, and we didn’t have any more storms.  She learned she didn’t have to have everything, but she could have a lot.

Same rules apply to grownups, but sometimes I swear I need Valium and headphones.  And no, nobody has been actually screaming and kicking arcade games lately.  It just feels like it sometimes.  I want the new normal to kick in any time now.


  1. Was in a grocery store not too long ago and a young lass took a temper temtrum. A few words of admonishment (warnings) from her mother just raised the level of screams. Concerned and irritated looks came from other shoppers. After the second quiet warning the mother took the girl by the collar, left her shopping cart, turned around and marched the girl out of the store. I couldn't help but see the supportive smiles on the other shoppers... Storm over. The sun came out. Tom Jones sang from the store's music system. All was peaceful again in the world.

  2. LOL Next time around one of those storms I'm going to have to listen for Tom Jones!

  3. I really hope you ride out this storm in your life soon Linda. The big storm I remember with my now gorgeous 26 year old daughter was at the library when she was 2. I removed her her from the room but she decided to scream blue murder on the steps outside. I just left her to it, lots of people tut tutted as they stepped past her but she did calm down and we never had a repeat! Life will be peaceful again for you soon but the one thing that will happen is change...be there to greet it ;0) x

  4. I've weathered a few people storms too. Reading this, it's sad to say that I remember more tantrums from "grownups" than from children. Maybe their labels are wrong. I hope you get to s mooth sailing soon!

  5. Hmmm...I'm call the "storm" at my house...I don't think I need to explain. LOL! I love the simplicity of the line and the dept in this illustration! :)

  6. I've got to laugh that I'm not alone when it comes to being on the receiving end of people storms. (I don't find it necessary to admit to any of those times where I might've had a moment...) Thanks for the comments!

  7. A very interesting take on 'storm.' One I would have much preferred over the 2+ feet of snow we received in New England. I agree with you 100% about the necessary showdowns. It doesn't mean you don't love or care about the child. It's just one of life's necessary lessons...that should come early on from parents. But you're right....these storms don't end in childhood, unfortunately. Hang in there!

  8. My comment got lost somewhere so here it is again...
    I love your spoiled=compost analogy, Linda. I am watching my mother and father-in-law become more and more under the influence of dementia these days, and it's exactly as you describe a child-storm: a lot of kicking and screaming (and pouting) to get one's way. Nope, some people never grow out of mind-game--they just get older, more manipulative and more stubborn. Re: the job...there's *always* the "I quit!" option when it's not a family member. Happy Valentine's Day to you, my dear!

  9. Mit, my sympathies to you and everyone else buried under the snow. I hope people at least get out for a snowball fight or to make a snowman when they've got so much to work with.

    Susan, my sympathies for your struggles with your mom and f-i-l. I've never had to deal with that kind of situation, and really hope I never have to. Kids can be hard enough. Wishing you the best!

  10. My cats weathered a storm yesterday. The terror of snow removal on the roof sent them literally flying through the air leaving nothing but destruction in their path. Later I placed a metal pan in the sink and it had almost the same effect. They were so jumpy all night. Ha! And they never grow up.

  11. Despite the fact that he's a total asshole, my brother-in-law can empty a claw machine with enough quarters at his disposal.

    Oh, and I really like the lines in your illustration.

  12. Holy cow, four younger brothers AND substitute teacher. I think this is related to your always seeming so practical and level-headed! I have a couple difficult folks at work, and my weapons are a little humor and patience. And if that doesn't work, I ignore them. :)

  13. A little humor and patience goes a long way. If we all did that, maybe there wouldn't be any more people storms? Maybe that's the secret to those claw machines too? I have no idea how to make cats less crazy. That's why I always have dogs :) Keep smiling everybody!

  14. I wish you a speedy "new normal" too!

    My kids never threw fits. I'd like to say it was due to good parenting, but they just didn't have the personality for it. Or maybe it was because we just laughed if they even got started. But middle school. Holy kamoley. And substituting. You're a hero.

    I do really really like this drawing.

  15. Substituting was fun once I got the hang of it. I could stir things up and leave :) I think I'd have a harder time trying to keep the peace with kids if I had to do it with the same kids every day. Thanks for the comment Coreopsis!