O is the rage. I am the machine.
A few nights ago I was unpicking some wayward spaghetti off a window, when I realised that it had in fact been a rage free day. I’m not talking about me, but O who for almost three weeks, seemed to live under a thunder cloud of unadulterated anger.
In real life, if I had to do a “Describe your Children” quiz, I think I would end up with mostly b`s – your children are pretty regular. But if I did one, whilst the rage was visiting, it would probably say “Run, while you can.” Of course, our daily lives include meltdowns over things such as not being first to press the lift button or because they have only been allowed six biscuits, not eleven. But this was gobsmackingly, knee knockingly, reaching for wine at breakfast time different.
Writing this, I am trying to pinpoint a particular catalyst for a volcanic episode, but I seem to have erased all memories. Basically, instead of communicating normally, O’s voice was replaced by a shriek and he perfected the art of roaring. I practiced ignoring the issue and staying calm, but this proves a bit tricky to do when three tubs of Playdoh are being lobbed at your head. I tried reasoning, negotiating , signalling to the slightly barren looking reward chart.
But the wrath became commonplace and dialogue went something like this
O : “Please can I have an apple”
Me : “Yes, “
O (flailing on the floor): “I SAID AN AAAAAPPPPLE!”
Me : “Yes, here you are.”
O : “ Not THAT apple!” cue storming off, slamming and kicking doors, cheek pinching little brothers,(what is it with cheek pinching?!”) hurling books only to emerge thirty six seconds later saying “Excuse me, Mummy do you want to play Lego with me?” seemingly oblivious to the monster that inhabited his body minutes earlier. Multiply the apple incident by seventeen per hour and treble the ridiculousness factor and that is pretty much how the living with rage weeks panned out.
There was also a particularly scary episode involving a large jagged rock on a coastal path, I was dealing with F who was hysterical because of some seaweed between his toes. O was with my friend A, who was holding his hand walking back to the beach. When I had left them 30 seconds previously, O was chattering happily about his fishing net finds. All of a sudden, all heads on the beach turn to the jagged rock where there are harrowing horror movie screams coming from O. A is holding onto O firmly, but O is screaming and shouting. Great. I scour the beach for S, who is snorkeling in the middle of the sea. I do my best foghorn impression and he flippers back to dry land. Leaving F with S, I scrunch over the rocks to the crime scene. The reason? A won’t let O climb the jagged rock which drops directly into the sea, 10 feet below. O has turned the colour of a sunburnt crab from all the screaming and crying and A, who has dealt with it brilliantly is nursing a very pinched hand.
I am used to tantrums and meltdowns, but these episodes were different and I started to get worried. I asked him and his teacher how he was at school, apparently all good. Earlier in the year there had been an incident where he was being picked on by a group of older boys, (6 years old) but that had been dealt with. I wondered if it was due to extra family stresses but this was a different bag altogether. I would ask O what had made him angry and sometimes there were feasible reasons ( F broke my super duper Lego space rocket) and other times not so ( Today is Wednesday and I thought it was Tuesday). I asked two friends, A who suggested a hormone fuelled growth spurt and R, my go to before google, who also suggested hormones.
HORMONES?! He’s 4.5 years old! Doesn’t that come when they’re 13 and turn into Kevin the teenager, lock themselves in their LYNX smelling bedrooms, communicate by grunts and smoke signals and only enter and leave the house by ladder?
Apparently not, according to Biddulph in Raising Boys “at the age of four , for reasons nobody understands, boys receive a sudden surge of testosterone, doubling their previous levels” which would explain the PMT style moodswings, luckily “ at five years of age, the testosterone level drops by a half..” Phew!
And as I write this, I am happy to report that we are back to the normal four and a half strops per day rather than per minute, but I need to deal with F who has been screaming for the duration of this post because I said he couldn’t have spaghetti for breakfast….