“illegitimi non carborundum”
Okay, you are two years old and are up way past your nap time. It has been a hard day filled with bug and worm eating. You've been told that you can't have another piece of candy. Your cheeks, both sets, have been patted, pinched, and if you were my child, slapped. Your diaper is wet, or is carrying a concealed stinky-poo-poo, and truth be told you just aren’t feeling very fresh. And just when your senses are just about fried, your parents – the bastards – tell you not to stick the knife into the electrical socket on the wall.
Methinks its time for a temper tantrum. What say you?
What is a temper tantrum? A guide for children
In short, under the Geneva Baby Convention of 1918, you have the unalienable right to pitch a major fit if you:
- Don’t get your way
- Have to share when you don’t want to share
- Break your favorite toy
- Have had too much coffee
- Are sick of Baby Einstein and have decided that you aren’t going to take it anymore.
The Tao of the temper tantrum, a delicate balance
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The successful temper tantrum has two key elements, the “temper” or mood, and “tantrum” or explosive method of taking out on the world to which you can not verbally articulate.
It is important that there be as much balance as possible to create the proper effect. Too much temper, and you will likely be labeled as “demanding”; too little and you will be labeled a “wus” or worse, a “pussy”. Too little tantrum and you won’t get the recognition that you rightfully deserve; too much and they’ll be calling for the tranquilizer gun.
If you are the type of child who fails to deal with your emotions as they arise, and instead prefers to continually push down the feelings of shame and alienation, clumsiness and awkwardness, humiliation and obsession, you could be the type of person who will one day be described by your neighbors as “a quiet person who kept to themselves” and “(he/she) was always pleasant,” and “we had no way of knowing that (he/she) had those bodies buried in their crawl space.”
Creating the perfect storm
The perfect tantrum can be private (in the home) or public (the middle of the mall, at Grandma’s house, preschool, etc.) and made up of one component from each choice below:
1. You should be (pick one)
- Too tired
- All sugared up
- Inherently evil
- Feeling the uber angst of no longer being Mommy and Daddy's favorite (and only) child, and have recognized that the new baby is more loved than you ever were.
2. Your parents (or authority figure) try to make you (pick one)
- Take a nap
- Put down the knife
- Get in the car
- Get out of the car
- Put down the gun
- Take a bath
- Leave the shiny red button alone
- Put down baby brother/sister because he/she "is not a toy"
3. Upon asking nicely the first time, you escalate the climate by (pick one)
- Ignoring them
- Running off into traffic
- Throw things at them
- Pretend to press the shiny red button, over and over again.
- Fold your arms and hunker down
- Pout and say "NO" in a half hearted way
- Bear you teeth and say "NO!" like you really mean it
- Try to stuff baby sister/brother into the dishwasher
4. The parent (or authority figure) again deals with your behavior by (pick one)
- Ignoring you
- Screaming at you
- Instructing you in a stern voice, again, to do exactly what they first asked you to do.
- Grabbing you by the ear and throw you into, or pulling you out of the car
- Giving into your demands of another cookie or six
- Telling you that they never loved you, or worse, that Mommy/Daddy left home because they hate you and that they wish that you were never born.
- Taking baby brother/sister out of harms way, and thus spoiling your plot to regain primacy in their hearts
Thar she blows
If, after the above has happened, you experience a single blessed moment in which you feel silent, a coldness forms in the pit of your stomach and the world around you begins to look bloody red, IT is upon you.
Like any sport, the rule is to relax, and let what is about to happen wash over you and everyone within five miles, because this is going to be a doozy. You may pick one or more of the following script options:
- Scream really loud
- Scream as if someone is cutting the heart out of your mommy and eating it in front of you – or, for real effect – scream as if someone has taken your teddy bear!
- Roll on the ground - no, wait, you should actually writhe on the ground and express your agony; remember to emote, emote, emote
- Kick everyone in sight
- Hit grandpa in the area proximate of his testicles.
- Pull the trigger on the gun.
- Actually press the shiny red button and end life on earth as we know it.
- Hold your breath until you pass out
- Scream “NO” really, really loud (evoke memories of someone shooting your teddy bear)
For extra added effect, bear down as if you have to pass a really a really hard turd - c'mon now, the key is to exert yourself until your face turns purple, and then let the inner child within roar forth with an ear piercing scream. Try it right now, yes...that's it. Make the neighbors think that Mommy is stabbing you for real. (And in a way, she is - her goal is, after all, to keep you her little adorable "messy pants" for the rest of your life.)
Continue doing the above until you are spent, your throat hurts and your father has gotten a hold of you and has swatted your ass but good.
At peace and quiet with your inner whiner
If you have done your job, you have just expelled every ounce of energy that your little self can produce, then you have worked out your aggressions and you will feel at peace. That nap that you didn't want to take before? Well it looks like blessed relief, doesn't it. You know that tomorrow is another day, and another chance to assert yourself as a fully functioning member of the toddler community.
But above all things, take pride in knowing that you can do all of this, over and over again and enjoy the satisfaction of a skill well learned.