As I finish putting away the groceries, I look over to the couch and see he has fallen asleep. It’s 4:30pm.
I brace myself for trouble.
For thirty minutes, there is peace. Little C (my one year-old) and I enjoy a thrown-together meal of leftovers from the fridge while the sleeping beast continues to slumber.
By 5:00 pm, the nightmare begins. Big C awakens, confused and crazed over the sounds of me and Little C playing cars. He screams, kicks, and shrieks. I try to soothe him.
He hits me.
I try to squeeze him with a bear hug, knowing it can sometimes calm him down.
He tries to kick his little brother.
I try to coax him to eat some dinner, drink some water, watch tv, eventually settling for just leaving him the hell alone. Little C and I continue to play, but it’s hard to focus with the shrill sounds of an irate child. Little C continues to look over curiously, even attempting to offer toys to his big brother, while I shield him from the attempted blows.
I carry Little C into the other room, ignoring the demon that has possessed my child. There is no trace of Big C in that body right now. He is unintelligible: howling, blubbering, shaking with anger. I hear a crash. I know what he’s done without needing to look, but I do anyway.
His bowl of soup is on the floor across the room, its contents dripping down off the walls and nearby toys. We make eye contact. He defiantly grabs the chair he has been sitting on and knocks it over, trying to hit me with it. Then, at an alarming rate, he starts shoving it towards me and Little C with the full force of his body, trying to knock us over.
Little C cowers, tucking his little head into the crook of my arm.
My heart begins to race. I start to panic. I feel my own anger rising. I want to simultaneously punch every person in the face who has ever given me unwanted advice about how to “properly” deal with my child. Get your shit together! I chide myself. You don’t have the luxury of losing it right now.
I set Little C down, setting him into a howl of his own. I tell Big C to go to his room. He screams, “No!” I promptly pick up all 40 lbs of him, throw him over my shoulder, and carry him up the stairs, into his room, and shut the door, chiding myself for not getting a lock installed yet.
I go back downstairs, pick up Little C who is on a justifiable tirade of his own now, and attempt to calm him down with Mega Blocks. As we play, I try to enjoy this time together, but it’s hard when I hear the frustrated screams of my oldest up above, as well as the bumps and thuds of his room being dismantled. I really, truly try to enjoy my time with Little C, but all I can really think about is how much I want to grab my keys, jump in the car, and run away. I feel like I might throw up from the unnatural mix of emotions stirring in my gut.
Twenty minutes go by and Big C comes down, a changed man. He actually asks for a second chance, which is a triumph, and apologizes for throwing the soup. He sits down, eats a large meal, and the night continues on with a relatively easy bedtime routine. I feel both relieved and annoyed that Big C is able to “turn the switch” so easily. I know my anxiety and racing blood pressure will continue to last far into the night.
Tonight was a small victory. I didn’t lose my cool. My sanity, maybe, but not my cool.
I pour a glass of wine. . . I pour a little more.
Then I cry and try to forget,
knowing all too well the cycle begins again tomorrow.