The Tantrum Within

Sometimes I wish I could act out my feelings. As young adults we learn that it isn’t “appropriate” to let it rip when it comes to letting others know exactly how we feel at any given time. We are to be “mature” and “calm” and “keep it together.” And by no means, under NO circumstance is it acceptable to come unglued in front of others.

Last Saturday I was at a minor league baseball game with Lee and another couple. It was hot and humid and just generally uncomfortable. The game was running a little long (or so it felt) and I’ll admit it… I was dreaming of my pajamas, a cold drink (that didn’t cost $7), a comfy couch and the luxury of air conditioning. Yet there we sat, 4 composed adults calmly watching the game and chatting about this or that.

In front of us sat a family with 2 young girls that I would guess to be around 5 or 6. At the beginning of the game they were so cute… All neatly put together with tidy little outfits and hair ribbons to match clipped firmly in place. They were happy. They had cotton candy and fruit-slushies and peanuts. And since our seats were right behind the dugout, each girl had received a foul ball from one of the players.

However, as the evening unfurled and the innings slowly stretched from one into the next, the girls began to … how shall I put this?? … Unravel. Their hair was beginning to frizz from the heat and stray curls were sticking to the backs of their necks. The ribbons began slipping from their places and dangled limp, clinging to scraps of sweaty, unkempt hair.

The outfits weren’t so tidy anymore, smudged by dirt and food and God only knows what else. Their once-shiny little faces were now partially covered in red, blue and purple cotton-candy and slushie stains. Smiles had turned to frowns and eventually all-out scowls.

Then the meltdowns started.

Whining, crying, twisting-in-the-seats, stomping, kicking, bickering and eventually screaming became the main event rather than the ballgame. It was quite the scene, I tell ya. Eventually they did run out of steam. One of them surrendered to her seat, slumping deep down into it while turning the baseball over and over in her small hands… sort of trance-like.

The other had one last hurrah with an empty plastic water bottle. From her mother’s lap she banged it and banged it repeatedly against the concrete of the dugout before winging it as far as it would go. And I admired her for it. Hell, I envied her for it. I laughed at this wonderfully expressive tantrum, not because I thought it was cute but because I COULD RELATE TO IT.

Her little fit served three purposes: 1. It made noise. 2. It provided the opportunity to flail her arms wildly about. And 3. It showed everyone in our section her extreme displeasure with the current situation. How I wish I could do the same whenever I am displeased with my current situation… whatever it may be. Ahhh to be young again. Ultimately, she succumbed to exhaustion and passed out in her mother’s arms at the bottom of the eighth.

It was at this point that my friend turned to me and said: It’s about that time… It’s late. It’s hot. Everyone is tired. And there is no more candy. We’re just like them, you know, except that we—unfortunately—are all grown up.”