In My Opinion

Fabiola Santiago: In Mother-in-Chief version of The Great Republican Tantrum, a happy ending

 

fsantiago@MiamiHerald.com

The Great Republican Tantrum takes me back to my child-rearing days.

Whenever the trouble-maker in my brood threw an ugly fit at a store because she wanted something she couldn’t have or because she didn’t want to leave the play area — and my efforts to reason with her failed — I would strap The Offender in the stroller, explain to the others that we had to leave because of the behavior, and calmly but purposely walked out of the mall.

The wails of The Offender could be heard across the halls, attracting all sorts of onlookers who expressed different points of view, depending on what righteous side of the parenting discipline scale they embraced.

They uttered them loud enough for me to hear.

I endured the onslaught — and my mother’s attempts to mediate a compromise she wouldn’t have accepted as a mother, but as a grandmother now judged reasonable (not to mention, she didn’t want to leave the mall).

By the time we got to the car, I could see in the once-defiant little red face budding evidence of repentance, but no acceptance of guilt, no apology.

As I drove home, I could hear from the back of the Volvo the sisters chastising her.

“This is all your fault!”

“Uh, uh,” she would mumble, negating responsibility.

It took two or three of these incidents and the same playbook to make my point stick: I don’t acquiesce to extortion.

But after the second aborted trip to the mall, we negotiated a peace treaty: If everyone behaved while we first took care of necessary shopping, I would buy each child one book (two smiled, The Offender frowned) — and one favorite trinket, which could be a toy (The Offender then smiled), but not necessarily (the voracious reader always chose a second book as a “favorite,” and I admit that because we shared this value, I was more generous with the budgeting for this purpose).

The trips to the mall became a joy — and together, my children and I grew an impressive collection of children’s books, an eclectic mix of subjects in two languages still in bookshelves all over the house, the most popular stored in what is now known as “Abuela Mom’s Treasure Chest.”

Time delivers miracles.

The Offender’s son is the treasure chest’s No. 1 fan.

Nothing makes me happier than seeing him riffling through the books to find his favorite, the Berenstain Bears’ The Spooky Old Tree, the story of three scared but adventurous little bears who go “into, up, through, over, down, and out” a mysterious old tree until they find their way home.

True to his roots, The Offender’s son has thrown his own tantrums at the mall — and guess what she did?

When reason failed, she stood up to his extortion.

Abuela Mom tried to negotiate (her heart, now grown tender, broke easily; and like her mother, she too wanted to stay at the mall).

For the good of all, however, she put aside her weepiness and supported The Offender-Turned-Mother-in-Chief 100 percent.

It worked. Once more, the raising of a brat was averted.

So here’s a toast to hope and redemption, and a wish that against the odds The Great Republican Tantrum subsides.

The nation needs its happy ending.

Read more Fabiola Santiago stories from the Miami Herald

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