Tantrums – NCHS Superintendent’s Notes, March 1, 2017

By Ernie Fowler – Nashville CHSD #99

efowler@nashville-k12.org

    Temper tantrums seem to be in style these days.  When I was a kid, a fit was met with a swift cure by my parents.  They often told me things that I didn’t want to hear.  This usually involved the word “no” somewhere in the conversation.  I either had to accept the “no” or try my hand at bullying my parents with a tantrum.  My parents weren’t easily bullied.  For the sake of my britches, my best choice was to accept the “no” and live to fight another day.

I recently visited Wal-Mart and observed a man pushing a little boy in a shopping cart.  The child was screaming and had tears rolling down his face.  I guessed that he was either in excrutiating pain or daddy told him “no”.  Fortunately, the second was the case.  I happened to follow this drama out to the parking lot.  At some point, the boy must have mentioned to dad that he was going to run away from home.  The dad, in a teachable moment, sat the boy down on the parking lot and told him to feel free.  The boy called dad’s bluff.  He began walking away.  He walked and walked getting further from dad.  I got in my car to leave the parking lot.  Suddenly the little boy took off running, much faster than daddy, and was about to enter the highway.  I slammed on my brakes & thought I was going to have to jump out of the car to catch this boy before he became a spot on the roadway.  Daddy finally caught the boy and took him kicking & screaming back to his vehicle.  I don’t know how this particular dad handled the conclusion of the incident.  My mom or dad either one would have quickly introduced me to their version of the “board of education”.

Today, it seems that we are seeing adults throwing more and more tantrums.  Folks don’t like this or that so they do things like burn college campuses, overturn cars, loot businesses, and cause havoc at airports.  Whatever happened to simply “agreeing to disagree”?  As either children or adults, we like things to go our way.  Parents know that , even if they tell their child “yes” nine out of ten times, the one “no” turns them from the best to the worst. It doesn’t take much maturity to handle “yes” as an answer to something we want.  “No” is much more of a test of our character.  It is normal to feel disappointment when we are denied something that our heart is set on.  The key is how quickly we bounce back from the disappointment and the maturity we show in doing so.  I learned a long time ago that a good old fashioned “hissy fit” would only cause me to have a sore hind end….and the answer was still “no”.

As I watched rioters destroy a town recently, I wondered how my parents would have handled this display had I reacted so childishly.  Mom would have told me that I “needed a knot jerked in my tail” and then would have proceeded to do so.  Maybe that is the problem today……not enough tails are being knotted in the young!  Had there been, these “young adults” would have thought twice before showing theirs!