Struggles with my four year old rage-aholic

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALate last week, I’d had a good day at work, and was generally in a good mood, when I walked to Lily and Neve’s preschool/daycare and entered the building. Within seconds, though, one of the caregivers approached me in the hall and said, with a grimace, “Uh, some really bad news.”

Because she normally works in Neve’s room, my first thought was that Neve had fallen ill; but then she added, “Lily got upset a few minutes ago and hit one of the kids, and then hit a teacher who tried to stop her, and then she hit Miss Jenny,” Lily’s most beloved teacher. “Now she’s screaming and crying and will not calm down.” (Turns out she’d been assigned a group and a room that was not to her liking.)

I felt myself physically and emotionally wilt. Lily has had these awful bouts with anger plenty of times before, and she knows better than to hit me or Joe. But she’d never before hit teachers, that I knew of. So in that moment, I knew things were getting worse, not better.

Having dealt with these meltdowns before, I knew I’d be trying to calm her down for a good while, so I decided to leave Neve in her classroom while I tried to deal with Lily. (Which made me feel guilty on top of despairing, since Neve had been there all day and would spend even less time with me because I was dealing with my flailing, screaming, out-of-control older daughter.)

I entered the empty classroom where Lily sat red-eyed, red-faced, howling, and wailing on the floor next to her teacher, who was kindly trying to distract Lily by talking about something else entirely.

I sat down on a nearby chair, cupped my face in my hands for a moment, gathering my strength, and plowed into the conversation, knowing perfectly well that none of it would get Lily to a state of calm any sooner. Once she’s “left the building,” as Joe and I call it, she’s out for a good while. Continue reading

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The Nuclear Option

The other night after dinner, Lily begged me to go with her to ask whether a neighborhood boy – whose house we pass every day as we walk to and from Lily’s preschool – could come over to play on the trampoline in our backyard.

I’d previously mentioned Lily’s interest in playing to the boy’s mom, so I agreed to help carry out Lily’s plan (and yes, she DOES always have one).

Indeed, because we’d run into the family earlier that day, and suggested the possibility of a post-dinner get-together, the boy – I’ll call him William – spotted Lily as we approached and burst out the door to accept her invitation.

All good, right?

We walk back to our house, and the kids jump on the trampoline for a few minutes. Then Lily decides she wants to change into her bathing suit and run through the sprinkler. Now, as it happens, she’s so excited that she’s had an accident, anyway; but then I worry about William not having his swimsuit with him. His mother quickly says William can just wear his shorts, though, and Lily’s giddiness at having a new friend over to her house instantly ratchets up several notches.

So the two of them run through the sprinkler a couple of times, until Lily decides that she wants to fill the kiddie pool with water and go in that next – and she kind of orders William to do the same, even though he seems initially uninterested.

“Lily, you should ask him if he wants to go in. It’s up to him,” I say, but she’s like a coked-up hummingbird by this point and doesn’t hear a word, doesn’t change her bossy tone.

“She’s just excited,” I tell myself. “Nothing is making it through those little ears just now. Cut her a little extra slack until she get a bit more used to William being here.”

Joe arrives back home with Neve at about this time, having taken her downtown to an outdoor concert for kids. The poor little pigtailed baby is konked out in her stroller, so Joe, after chatting with William’s mom for a few minutes, takes Neve inside to get her jammied up for bed.

Meanwhile, in the pool, things slowly go off the rails. William agrees to come in as the hose fills the pool, and Lily suddenly gets obsessed about seeing his underwear under his shorts (“Let it go, Lily,” I tell her – and the source of all this is another blog post altogether, people); she also starts randomly throwing things like a large plastic watering can, with no regard for whom it might hurt on its way down.

I sternly tell Lily not to throw it again, but she’s just as oblivious to my voice as before. She starts splashing William, who asks her to stop it. She promises him she will; but then, moments later, she points the hose at him again, and I see the watering can go airborne again, too.

That’s the instant when some switch inside me gets flipped on – some recognition that Lily is way out of control, and that suddenly, the only option is the nuclear option. Continue reading