Before I had a child, I had a lot of opinions about how parents could make things easier on themselves, which (surprise!) all turned out to be based on total ignorance and do not work in actual practice. For example, “just don’t make the kid eat if they aren’t hungry” lacks insight into how a moment in time fits into the rest of a 24-hour period: children who do not go to sleep with full tummies do not sleep well, which means you do not sleep well.
But there was one thing I thought that has largely turned out to be correct: if a child is throwing a temper tantrum, just leave the room.
This works! (I mean, it works for now, for my particular child; I am certain that there are any number of children who it absolutely would not work for.) It only works when nobody else is home, because if you have a house full of people and you simply leave the room when your toddler is having a meltdown you are leaving other people to deal with a toddler having a meltdown. But now that Edith and I are on our own, I deploy this tactic with success often.
For example, this morning Edith was lying on her stomach in the kitchen playing with some toys and I noticed an unfamiliar clicking sound, so I hurried right over to see what she had.
She had two big broken pieces of glass.
I knew where they had come from — my mom broke a jar weeks ago, and cleaned up after it scrupulously, but these pieces of glass were from that same jar. I can only assume Edith somehow retrieved them from underneath the refrigerator. I took them away from her gingerly but swiftly and inspected her hands, which had not been cut, and then I sat at a little distance freaking out.
When I had calmed down, I noticed that Edith was throwing a full screaming crying tantrum because I had taken her pieces of broken glass away.
So I went into my room. She immediately stopped crying and a second later, I heard her little feet padding across the floor as she came to see what I was up to.
See? It’s easy, this parenting thing.