Tears and frustration and broken hearts

Is this normal? It can’t be normal, surely? I ponder this a lot at the moment as I try, once again, to calm you whilst doing my best to stay calm myself.

I don’t want to do you a disservice with this post, because most of the time you are actually very reasonable. You are helpful and sensible – or as sensible as can be expected for a four year old – and love to talk through things. Why we should do this or shouldn’t do that. You love nothing more than being given some responsibility. You love it a bit too much in fact, and your bursts of rage are usually linked to one of two things:

  1. feeling you have missed out on something one of your brothers has just done. You MUST experience everything, no matter how mundane
  2. wanting to do adult jobs without any help

You NEED to carry the breakable china around John Lewis and to the till BY YOURSELF, you want to use the sharp knife to cut the pastry WITHOUT ANY HELP, you urgently need to carry the elephant bag that you had no interest in until your brother picked it up 10 seconds previously, you must re-sort the laundry that your brother has just been sorting out; you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO take your unremarkable plain green top to the park to show your 4 year old friend just because it is new. No you don’t want to wear it, you want to wear your other new top; you just want to take this one IN A BAG! You don’t want to show it another day, you need to show it tomorrow with your haaaaaands.

It is all desperately unfair and mummy is surely the most unreasonable person on the planet. You do not cope well with being disappointed and….well, given the nature of your demands, you are disappointed a lot at the moment.

Unfortunately, my love, these are not two-minute meltdowns. Oh no – these go on and on and on. You do not want to be comforted or spoken to or reasoned with or touched – you just have to get it all out of your system. Watching you is draining and soul-destroying. It physically hurts. It leaves my brain addled and my heart bruised. It almost wipes the rest of a good day from my mind.

I think about other children of your age; I think about your friends, and somehow I can’t imagine this happening in their homes. Why is it that some days I feel like I have gone back to dealing with a toddler? Albeit a bigger one, and therefore much harder to manage. Why it is that sometimes I feel like we are getting there – that yes, it is hard work, but we are in control; we are managing. We’re happy and look…..we’re having fun most of the time too. And then within seconds everything seems to collapse and I feel like it is all slipping out of my control. Why are we still going from one extreme to the other like this?

I can sense when you are ready to be reasoned with. Your muscles loosen, you are ready to stop fighting….or all out of energy; one or the other. I can see when you are finally ready to give in and have a cuddle. And when you cuddle, your little arms hold me tight. You sit with me quietly and bury your head in my neck.

This is mummy’s privilege – the tightest cuddles, but the biggest tears too. And a broken heart to mend before the morning.

boy with trolley

Here you are, poppet, being reasonable and helpful at the garden centre.





The playdate

I’m not a fan of the word playdate, but for ease of a title I’m going with it. And yesterday afternoon the eldest boy had one – a little girl came to play at our house of boys.

It all started swimmingly. They walked home from school hand in hand in the sunshine chattering happily. My boy gave her a comprehensive tour of the house including the shoe drawer, his collection of Autocar and WhatCar? magazines, and the cleaning cupboard. There were obviously two 2 year olds hanging onto them, desperate to join in; and predictable heartbreak from them when I told them to stay downstairs and leave the big children to play, but before long everything was relatively calm and I could hear the happy sound of two children pretending to run their own school upstairs.

Lovely Friend (let’s call her LF) had brought her pretend teacher’s resources pack with her – it is a dream for any child who, like my boy, comes home from school and immediately launches into the role of teacher, desperate to re-enact the day s/he has only just experienced. It comes complete with a bell, stickers, whiteboard, whiteboard pen and more.

I know, I’d have loved one too.

They seemed to have a pretty efficient operation going on – I could hear them running along the landing to take registers to the makeshift school office, and arranging supply teachers forplaying schools Year 2 who, rather alarmingly, had been left without a teacher. It was all very impressive.

At some point I even made myself a cup of tea.

And then things started to unravel – I should have known the cup of tea was a bad idea. I heard my boy’s tears escalate into a tired, frustrated, nothing-you-say-will-calm-me-down hysteria. And the reason? The teacher’s resources kit had, after at least an hour, been tidied away; including the whiteboard. The lack of a whiteboard of his own had never been a problem before. It was definitely a problem now.

‘I NEEEED MY OWN WHITEBOARD!!! I want to be doing my phonics happily not sadly’, he managed to explain through the sobs.

I desperately wanted my boy to understand that it isn’t really appropriate to invite LF to play and then stamp around your room hysterical about not having a whiteboard. But at the same time I felt so sad that, in his utterly distraught state, he was missing time with the friend he absolutely adores. Sometimes it feels like my 4 year old is the only one who occasionally gets so tired, frustrated and overwhelmed by what seem like simple things that his whole world crumbles around him. But then I remember that he is only little – he is doing brilliantly at school, hangs onto his teacher’s every word, copes with a noisy and frenetic home life; so perhaps it’s not surprising that every so often he gets a little overwhelmed by it all.

The meltdown probably lasted a maximum of 10 minutes but seemed like forever. LF was left downstairs with the adoring 2 year olds, totally bewildered as one boy asked her to remove his shoes and the other requested a kiss for his injured foot.

Thankfully, my boy re-grouped in time for tea which was which was the usual messy, rowdy affair. Three boys competed for LF’s attention by knocking over drinks, shrieking over each other and, of course, doing their loudest dinosaur roars about three inches from her face.

After a few civilised minutes of games, LF’s mum arrived to pick her up. Everyone had cuddles and off she went.

Then I microwaved my cold tea and hoped we hadn’t put LF off ever returning to this loud, chaotic house of boys with an incompetent seeming mum.

I wanted to tell her that it’s not always like this………except it sort of is.