Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Love Hate

When your child says, or rather, screams as loudly as they can, that they hate you, apparently it means that you are doing your job.  And doing it well.  By all accounts you are not supposed to be your child’s friend.  If you were their friend, they supposedly would not be telling you at the top of their lungs that they hate you.

Small consolation.

Tiny one.

In fact, crap one.

Explain to me then why I feel like utter shite when our second son throws a wobbler and shouts he wants to punch me, he is going to break my stuff and that he hates me.  

That’s hates me with fireworks going off in the background.

Explain to me how I am supposed to deal with that when little eyebrows are knitted together with absolute venom and rage and blue eyes are flashing at me. It’s not a nice feeling to be on the receiving end of such vitriol from your five year old.

When he has a meltdown I don’t see the five year old boy, I see the 15 year old teenager and it scares me to death.

The lump in my chest is back.

I can’t do right for doing wrong.  There is no reasoning with him.  I am ordered to stop talking to him, stop annoying him and to leave him alone.  Yet when I do, because I have to for fear of my own reaction, I am ranted and raved at to come back and stay beside him.

This boy, who is our shy and introverted child, certainly does not live up to that label at times.  He is unable to express himself in a difficult situation.  If something happens in school, he doesn’t speak up but lets it all burst forth when he comes home.  Home to his safe environment.

He doesn’t communicate very well and I suspect, at the moment, he is not the best at reading non-verbal signals.  For example, if he gets a bump from another child in the playground, it perceived by him to be a deliberate act.  He won’t accept that it was an accident.  He is particularly aggrieved if the “culprit” doesn’t apologise.

Ironically, if someone else witnesses his upset he gets embarrassed by the attention.
I can tell immediately that there is something wrong when he comes home from school. Rancour shimmers and vibrates from his little body.  

He can turn on a dime.  One minute he is happy, loving some one on one attention, responding well to a bit of banter and enjoying “having the laugh.”  The next, something small, so small I have no idea what I have said or done, sets him off.  Turns him into a simmering rage machine. 

It starts off as a garbled complaint with him being on the verge of tears.  Then the rains come.  Closely followed by winds of change which bring torrential anger and frustration; a storm which can last for many many minutes.  When your child is like this, it doesn’t matter if it is one minute or half an hour; the results are the same.  Emotional debris scattered everywhere, for both child and parent.

When he tells me he hates me I don’t take it to heart. I know he doesn’t mean it.  He really doesn’t.  It’s anger, rage and frustration that compels him to shout at me.  I am not condoning it either.  What does upset me, however, is I don’t know how to help him.  I haven’t got the skills or the training to talk him down from a tantrum.  Sometimes I can prevent one when I see the early smoke signals but there are days when he is just too tired or upset about something and no amount of silly stories or distraction techniques will work. 

There is a poison in his system and it needs to be purged.

Then it is time to take cover in the underground bunker and wait till the storm passes because any attempt, clumsy or otherwise, to disarm him, just ignites the situation.   

He might storm off, shouting and roaring about the unfairness of it all, to trash his room.  Or he might stay put to drum home the message that he hates me.  There are times when his younger brother watches with his mouth open.  Afterwards he is the one to come to me with a hug and to reassure me of his love.  He tells me he loves me forever and he doesn’t hate me.

Then, as quickly as the storms came, they blow over.   Almost but not quite forgotten.  I look at him when he is sitting watching television, in the middle of his brothers, sucking his thumb.  Content and lost in an animated world.

About a year ago, when the melt downs were all too frequent, I found I was tip toeing around him.  I was on tenterhooks, wary of saying or doing something that would set him off.  When it looked like I hadn’t been cautious enough, a little panic alarm would begin to sound and I noticed I morphed into that mother who threw the reigns in her child’s direction; to let him run with them, as I was too afraid to chastise or reason with him. 

I flung off the chains of responsibility to appease him, to let him have his way because I believed in doing that he would calm down quicker.  

He may have done, but it certainly wasn’t going to help him in the long run.

I’ve sought out which books to read and approached individuals for help.  

I was doing all they said.  There was Special Time for the child in question.  I remembered to try and keep my cool. I listened to him and allowed him to speak.  And when none of it worked, I removed myself from the situation.    

The books have a flaw; they just don’t translate well when there is a short age gap between several children.

For the time being, we’ll muddle along.  He has a lovely teacher who, from the first week, noticed how he wasn’t mixing.  She was also fantastic in helping us resolve an issue he was having in the yard during break times.  He has come a long way in a few weeks and has made some friends.  

No doubt I’ll screw up along the way but for now all I can do is my best.  I take comfort in the fact that he will still come to me when he needs something or he has hurt himself. 

All I have to do is remember that I am his mother first and his friend after that.


  1. You poor thing. It's so hard, and it sounds like you're doing everything right, which is small comfort at the time. He'll come through it.

    1. Thanks (Not) Maud! I reckon if I can manage to wing it 80% of the time at least he won't be too scarred! Thanks for reading!

  2. I completely agree with Maud. You're doing brilliantly. Maybe he just needs to work through it to learn to manage his emotions - and isn't it wonderful that he loves you so much and trusts you so much that he knows he can hurl all manner of abuse at you and you'll still be there for cuddles and protection? My heart skipped a beat picturing your younger one coming to tell you he'll love you forever and never hate you. What a dote!

    Gorgeously written piece xx

    1. Thank you! He is definitely on a learning curve emotionally at the moment and as a result, so am I! I think though, I can honestly say, I am not looking forward to the teenage years. Kiss Me by Carlos Gonzalos is a great book with great insights.

  3. He sounds just like our first daughter who is 4 1/2. I found resources on Sensory Processing Disorder on the web, and the Highly sensitive Child book by Elaine Aron very helpful. Standard parenting books just don't get this sort of child, or HW to deal with multiple kids close in age so
    I stay the fuck away from them, they make me so angry and feel like such a failure. On my blog I have a couple of pieces on dealing with overwhelm, and the white heat of mama anger. Your analogy of the storm is what I use too to keep my sanity and keep me from hating her back when she says he wants to kill me. It is so hard, and so damaging and hurtful and traumatic for both parties. All I can do is squeeze as much love in as I can when she's calm and alls OK. Xxxx

    1. Thanks, Lucy. "White heat mama anger" nails the feeling exactly.