They wanted that toy. Or to play the game their way. Or not to be told what to do.
Our daughter Leah does this super cute arms folded pouty thing.
Of course, Melissa's response internally may be a little more R-rated as well, I'll let her comment on that if she likes ;)
Emotions are funny things. They point out the truth of our internal world far more than the words we say. You may say "I love you" or "I hate you" or "I miss you" but you always know, when you hear those words, if they really mean it.
How do you know? You know intuitively based on their emotion. If the words they're saying are coming from the depths of the soul, you know it. You can see it in their emotion.
This is what makes some people good lovers and others poor. Some people just are loving people, and their emotions adhere to that reality. Others are not. Now obviously, that is a ridiculously loaded blanket statement, but it's more or less true.
Kids? Well kids are little people without emotional filters. They just let out what they feel. They haven't been stifled or stunted or squelched or proprietized or gotten their little minds around what are our culturally acceptable or unacceptable emotional responses.
They just let loose. And it's awesome. Why?
Kids are living truly and authentically out of the core of their being (this is where our emotional responses come from). They are sincerely being themselves.
They want things. They desire things. They envy. They dream. They grow infuriated when the world is not working out the way they think it should. They scream "that's not fair!" or "that's not right!" or even better "you suck!"
And they are truly being themselves.
Which would you rather have, honestly? A child that is sincerely and authentically living in this world as their true self, or a child that has learned appropriate and acceptable cultural emotional responses? In other words, would you rather have a kid that never throws tantrums, never gets angry, and is generally dead inside, or a kid that lives out their emotional life to the fullest and sincerest reality of themselves, forgetting what is acceptable?
Seriously though, which would you rather have?
Now, I'm not saying that only a tantrum throwing kid can be authentically living out their emotional world. There is a correct way to deal with big emotions; namely, for a Christian, it is to bring those BIG emotions into both a vertical direction as a rage against God, and in a horizontal direction in a relationally safe area. The Psalms give tons of help in walking through this.
Walter Brueggemann says of the lament Psalms that they "are refusals to settle for the way things are. They are acts of relentless hope that believes no situation falls outside Yahweh's capacity for transformation. No situation falls outside of Yahweh's responsibility."
How about that. You kid is living out a relentless hope when he/she is throwing that tantrum. The world is not working the way they think it should work. Some correction for their incorrect picture of what the world should be may be needed, but a normal "Be quiet!" or "Calm down!" or "Stop whining!" or the myriad of other natural parental response is just not a very helpful response.
I think the way to really nurture a healthy emotional world in my kids, or friends or whoever, is not to squelch their big emotions, but to see them as a hopeful cry for the way the world could be. These tantrums are cries of hope. They are dreams. Let's dream along with em. Let's cry alongside em at the injustice of the world.
Maybe our kids can teach us a thing or two about hoping for a better world -- rather than just going along living culturally acceptable proper lives?
And ironically, Melissa's response (and our normal response) to our kids tantrums is a hopeful one as well. "I want a world void of strife and pain and hurting and chaos. I want just one day of peace from a screaming child!" So, the ultimate twist is that Melissa is the relentless hope-er as well. She wants the world to be different than it is. Her emotional outburst shows her inner desire.
I say let's just bring all our hope and dream-fullness together to the One who could ultimately do something about it. Rather then seeing these outbursts as problems, let's view them properly: cries of the soul for a better world.