My daughter did it a few times, but my son did it more frequently and with more vitality than I ever knew was possible. Nothing had prepared me for it. None of the children I had ever babysat for ever did this, and I was totally caught unaware as a parent. My son's hit early. My daughter's was delayed. I am fortunate that Erin came first and chose to do her times pretty much at home. Pearce was equal opportunity. The time, location and number of people around mattered not to him. Some refer to these outer-body experiences as temper tantrums, the "terrible twos" or the "trying threes."
I remember when Erin hit one of those temper tantrums full-blown. I looked down at my affable, easy-going beautiful little girl and thought the Exorcist had taken possession of her. When she decided to abandon all self-control again, I did something that I continued to use with Pearce. I put her in "the hold." When I was in middle school and high school I worked with a girl at church who had cerebral palsy. In order for her to get on the floor with her peers, I would take her out of her wheelchair and sit her in my lap. I placed her feet between my legs as I sat like an Indian, and I pulled her left arm across her to hold it with my right, and did the opposite for her left. We looked like an intertwined pretzel. With the girl I could help navigate her arms while she attempted to manage direction, but when Erin was in the thralls of a thrashing tantrum, her arms were not allowed to flail. She would fight against me all the while I would be calmly saying, "Erin, when you calm down I'll let go of your hands, but the harder you struggle the tighter it will feel." It was tighter not because I was tightening my grip but because she was pulling away. Eventually, Erin would get it all out of her system and begin to release control of her anger and would settle against me exhausted. It was then I could actually parent her. Like I said Erin did her tantrums at home. Pearce…not so much. I remember one time specifically at the Fall Family Fun Festival. He was a little over three years old, and he was a cowboy. So stinkin' cute! His daddy was working one of the booths which meant he had to stay with me as we went to find my friend who had Erin. This did not please Pearce at all. He began thrashing, yelling and acting like a raving lunatic. What was I to do. I had to show him his momma was the same at home as I was in public, so I sat down and put him in the hold. Had there been a more private place for me to do it, I would have, but this was in an open field in the middle of God and everybody. Yes, GOD AND EVERYBODY!
Now Pearce add a twist to his flailing and thrashing. Once I would put him into the hold, he would start throwing his head backward into my chest or head, so I started leaning forward to prevent him from the behavior. I was praying the blood of the cross from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. When he calmed down enough for me to manage him, we went to the car. It didn't end there. Let's just say it was a LONG RIDE HOME for him and me.
Have you ever wanted to lose your control? Have you lost your control as an adult? Embarrassingly I admit I have. My sister says that motherhood sometimes feels like you're being pecked to death by a duck. I have on occasion snapped, lost my ever-lovin' mind and exploded. My children's jaws hit the floor. I remember my jaw hitting the floor when my mom would get to the point where we would make her say her cuss word – "Dang it." (Snicker all you want, but when Lori and I heard those words come out of Momma's mouth we knew we had not only crossed the line but were broaching where angels fear to tread!)
Sorry, I chased a rabbit.
But self-control doesn't just mean your temper. It means your mouth – do you have control over your tongue? It means your mind – do you control your thoughts or do they run amuck? Do you have control over your eating, or do you eat when you are not hungry or do you over-indulge? (Trust me, I'm talking to myself as I sit down here in New Orleans where the food is WONDERFUL!) Do you control yourself in your spending? Do you control where you go and what you do so you reflect your Father's interest? Are you exhibiting self-control? It's one of the fruits of the Spirit. If you are struggling with this, seek Him and His wisdom. This isn't something you or I do alone.