OK. I think I've recovered enough from re-living the last post to try again! So here we were, with this adorable, smart, verbal kiddo who we were running back and forth to medical specialists for the first two years of her life. Crazy. I learned more than I EVER had the desire to know about head circumference, intestines, and adenoids!
The doctors couldn't quite figure her out. The thing is, neither could we, and for a much different reason. Firefly was having these tantrums, you see. Violent, frequent, long-lasting tantrums. Every day. Several times a day.
These were not "terrible twos" temper tantrums. They were screeching, falling on the floor, head-banging, door pounding, hitting and kicking tantrums. They would go on for easily over an hour (yes, at two and three years old--this kid has got AMAZING stamina!)
Sometimes they were provoked. Maybe we told her "no" to something she wanted. What nerve we had! Maybe her socks were uncomfortable. Maybe she didn't push the chair under the table EXACTLY the way she thought it should be.
Sometimes they came up seemingly out of the blue. You never knew what was going to set her off, or where it was going to happen.
I have vivid memories of physically restraining her at a park, and even more vivid memories of how my friends reacted to that. I can't remember why we had gotten to that point, but I do remember the screaming and head-butting that accompanied it.
I remember carrying her into day care (more than once), with her under one arm and her socks and shoes in the other; handing her off to her teacher with the comment, "here, YOU try to get these on her."
I remember the kindergartener Firefly screaming bloody murder into a uniformed policeman's face (yes, with gun) when he had the nerve to check to see if she was OK. (Never found out what he had been doing in my neighbor's backyard, though!)
I remember pulling over to the side of the road and actually putting her out of the car because her screaming was so piercing, so loud. The last time I had to do that, she took off, INTO the road. Now we just listen to the screaming.
You know the best part? Most of this behavior is saved for us (read, me). Since about age four or five, she has managed to control it around other people, for the most part. (Remember our disastrous trip to WalMart? Yeah, we've had others like that here and there). Nothing can make you feel like a horrible parent more than this five year-old that you can't control, can't get dressed in the morning, can't make it through the day with, who is an angel at Pre K all day.
I have to admit, the day she finally lost it with the nurse at her day care I was a little smug about it. Finally, someone else lost control of her. Maybe it's not just us!
I've heard all of the "professional" excuses, I mean, explanations, about her feeling safe enough with us to act out. I've heard that she is so quiet in other situations because her anxiety is so high that she is just trying to get through until she is home. I've heard it all.
I've also sobbed in my closet, sure my child hates me.
I've sobbed in my bathroom, sure that I don't like my child, and worried about what kind of person that makes me.
It is a journey. We are several years out from the worst of this now. I think it's probably been about six months since my last sobbing episode! It does help that I can understand what is going on with her (for the most part). We have a strong team of experienced therapists offering suggestions for us.
Most of all, I've worked on my journey with God. I'm starting to understand that He doesn't make mistakes, and what that means for my relationship with my daughter. I know that she and I are in the same family for a reason, and that I have a lot to learn about living my life in a different way. I know, deep in my heart, that we are where we are supposed to be right now.
That doesn't mean I remember it every day. Next time I'll give you a picture of what our days look like, as we incorporate all of our learned techniques and lessons into daily life, and what that means for how smoothly (or not) our days actually go. Once again, thanks for listening.