My Mama taught me at a very early age that having a hissy fit was just about the worst thing you could do…right up there with telling an untruth, using the words “shut-up,” stealing, looking down your nose at someone, and keeping your eyes open while the preacher was praying.
Blanche Avery, who would have been 91 last Monday if she were alive, was one of the sweetest people God ever allowed to walk this earth, but she tolerated no foolishness. She embodied tough love…which was fortunate for me. I was what some of her relatives referred to as a “challenging child.” I have remarked often that if I were a youngster today, I would probably be so heavily medicated I would be unable to walk. We didn’t have focusing drugs for children back then, however, and Mama did her best at teaching me how to channel an exorbitant amount of energy and curiosity. If she said it once, she said it a thousand times: “Pam: keep your mind on your business.”
Once upon a time, however, I did have a hissy fit….smashed a loaf of bread flat as a flitter when Mr. Bo Daniels did not have any banana pop-sickles in his store.
“He only has grape,” said Mama, as she opened the door to our dark blue, 1951 Buick and put the bread on the front seat. “Do you want grape?”
“I want banana,” was my answer.
Her response was to close the car door and go back in the store to pay Mr. Bo for the bread.
I was only about three or four years old, but I already knew what I wanted in life — and it wasn’t a grape pop-sickle.
I was standing on the car seat — in shock. I felt the anger of not getting what I wanted, coupled with Mama’s obvious lack of concern. I gritted my teeth and exclaimed to the silent, unconcerned universe: “I (stomp) want (stomp) ba-(stomp) na-(stomp) na-(stomp).” I was born with dancing in my soul, and as I stood on the front seat of our 1951 Buick, the rhythm felt right and the loaf of bread was an easy target.
“I (stomp) want (stomp) ba-(stomp) na-(stomp) na-(stomp). I (stomp) want (stomp) ba-(stomp) na-(stomp) na-(stomp). I (stomp) want (stomp) ba-(stomp) na-(stomp) na-(stomp).” I tap danced on that loaf of Colonial white bread until it looked more like giant pancake.
The punishment was swift and direct. My mother did not ask me why I jumped on the bread. She knew why. I had a hissy fit.
Now I can honestly say that I never jumped on another loaf of bread. Granted, I have had my share of frustration over not getting what I wanted or what I thought I needed. (I admit there are those among us who have witnessed a Pam Avery hissy fit firsthand, and I am quite certain they have never forgotten it; and, for those outbursts I do apologize…I’m not saying I was wrong for getting pissed off. I merely apologize for the intensity of the expression).
I do, however, clinch my fists and scream at life on a routine basis; but daily, I try to accept the fact that I am ultimately responsible for what makes me feel like I want to jump on a loaf of bread — not someone else. Daily, I recognize the truth that I must take responsibility for either adapting to life or get on with changing it.
As a rule, however, our highly educated society has evolved (if you can call it that) and we now choose to ignore and excuse hissy fits.
For starters, the word is not in the dictionary. When I typed it, my incredibly smart computer gave me a message that I needed a grammar session! Regardless of what psychologists or technically superior machines tell us, however, a hissy fit is a real and dangerous way in which human beings manipulate life and one another.
If you do not believe me, visit the nearest mall and watch the interaction between parents and children in the food court.
Be a fly on the wall during a parent-teacher conference. See how many excuses a parent can come up with as to why “little Johnny” is not cooperative or productive.
Better yet, watch our politicians go after one another. If you think that for one moment, the welfare of their constituency motivates the majority of them, look again.
Our lawmakers vote for or against bills based on retribution against the other party or other politicians. It’s all one big hissy fit. “If I can’t get what I want, then you can’t have yours either.”
Webster’s defines “spoiled” as a “damaged disposition due to pampering, coddling, and indulging.” When we make it our mission to give our children and ourselves what we want, rather than what we need or have earned, we set the stage for a lifetime of hissy fit throwing.
We can point fingers at each other for creating a society that has more resources than any other in the world, yet suffers from more depression and anxiety. We can blame the media, rock and roll, MTV, suggestive fashion trends, divorce, welfare mothers, or anything else that comes to mind when trying to pinpoint why we and our offspring appear out of control.
But when all is said and done, there are just too many loaves of bread stomped, and far too little done about it.