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This past Sunday was a beautiful day in my new community. I took advantage of the free day by getting on my bike and exploring bike paths and bike lanes for a 2 hour jaunt. It was bright, warm and everything wonderful that only a few places in this country can enjoy in November. I’m going to call it my new desert high.

And then I heard it, a haunting piercing scream coming from the Mormon church up ahead. It was indeed a great wailing and gnashing of teeth. Ah the memories of crying kids on the Sabbath Day!

Pedaling by at about 17 MPH I caught a glimpse of this father and son in a battle of wills as I passed by. The boy was clearly so upset and so loud that he had to be escorted not only out of the chapel, but also out of the entire building itself. The father, to his credit wasn’t matching the yelling but was trying to either hold the boy or get him to stand up rather than flail about on the grass and sidewalk. Of course I had to turn around, stop, and snap the photo above.

Been there, done that.

I’ve been the father at church trying to calm an out of control child, becoming increasingly frustrated that MY child was behaving this way. In the later years, I may or may not have secretly felt grateful that the kid’s misbehavior had been my ticket out of the meeting.

I also understand the child. Three hours is too long for an adult to sit respectfully. It’s torture for children. One could easily argue that the child’s reaction is the appropriate one to a LDS Sacrament Meeting.

The last temper tantrum I guided one of my children through was just about 3 weeks ago. Coincidentally it was on a Sunday too. I had taken the kids on an afternoon drive to a riverbank in a nearby State Park. Once in the park I turned off the radio so we could enjoy the natural peace and quiet. Their taste in music these days sounds like what you’d hear in a gay club. And gay or not, I can only take so much of it without a stiff drink. I also believe that natural beauty deserves serenity to be properly experienced. The kids protested but I mentioned that I’d turn it back on as soon as we exited the park. After a fun time at the river and barely 2 miles to go until we exited, my 10 year old started fussing about the radio.

We’d enjoyed the park and I could have easily given in but I still reminded her that I’d turn it on as soon as we were out of the park. I tend to err on the side of sticking to my terms. But as soon as she started whining it wasn’t about the music or the park anymore. She wasn’t getting the radio until the whining stopped. Any parent knows how that turned out. She demanded the radio. I demanded the whining to stop first….and we entered the slippery slope of a tired child who just wanted control over one minor part of her life, but was going about it the wrong way. It quickly morphed into a full tantrum…and then we had a parent who wasn’t going to reward the screaming with what she wanted.

After about 10 minutes I pulled over into a parking lot and calmly told her to get out. The kids freaked out thinking I was going to leave her, but my intention was really just for her to get out, breathe and calm down while we waited. I remember thinking, “I moved here for this?”

Once calm for a couple of minutes, I invited her back in the car… and she refused. That’s when calm Daddy finally set aside his calm voice and brought out stern Daddy saying something along the lines of, “You will move that 10 year old behind, get in the car, sit quietly and calmly if you want to ever listen to the radio again one day.”

She did and we drove home peacefully. We still often listen to her favorite channel (the gay club music as I call it) while driving. And I manage it without drinking. It’s still better than the 3-hour block on Sundays.