August 8, 2015
The violent storm crashed through our home, causing it to be barely recognizable. Overturned chairs, black dirt from an upended plant, a shattered lamp, and ugly dents in the wall were left in its aftermath. I simply stood in the middle of the room staring at the chaos, powerless to move, unable to process what had just happened.
This was not the first time such a wild tempest had destroyed our otherwise peaceful home, but oh, dear God, please let it be the last! I love this little girl with all of my heart, but I truly don’t know how much more I can take!
With increasing frequency over the past year or so, her usual sweet, sunny disposition would unexpectedly turn dark and sinister with very little warning. I rarely saw it coming. We would be in the parking lot after a pleasant shopping trip, and suddenly she would be shrieking and flailing, refusing to get into the car. Or we would be the front yard of a friend’s house, when her enthusiasm for a play date would abruptly morph into wailing and thrashing, refusing to get out of the car.
Even our family vacation to a magical kingdom, which should have been a dream come true, ended in disaster. About 10 minutes after entering the gate, the storm hit. A fierce, raging storm that unleashed its fury indiscriminately onto everyone and everything in its path. As I dragged a screaming, kicking, biting, flailing, hyperventilating child through the crowds of “perfect” families, I could feel their scornful accusing stares and could imagine their question: What kind of mother would let her child act like that? I could almost hear their exhales of relief as they must have been thinking, I’m glad that’s not MY child! Never in my life had I felt such shame.
And never in my life had I felt so helpless. How is it possible for a smart, competent, college-educated adult to be completely incapable of controlling a child’s tantrums? How could her erratic, hysterical behavior continue to be such a mystery to me?