Janey gets off the bus with manic excitement, something I've learned over the years to be a little wary of. She runs into the house, dropping her coat and hat and backpack as she goes, and dashes to the refrigerator, pulling out cheese and pesta and ketchup, and yells "Cheese, please, cheese! Want to pour ketchup! Pesto, please!" I fix her multi-course snack, and she eats. Then she asks for Angelina Ballerina. I hold my breath as I put it on, and sure enough, after about two minutes, she starts screaming. She stomps her feet and bites her arm. As I walk over, she lunges toward me, teeth first, not exactly biting but hitting my chest with her teeth. I pull away and say as calmly as I can "The TV is making you upset. I am going to turn it off" She flings herself onto her bed, screaming loudly.
I stop, take a breath, try to not fall into a useless despair. I remind myself she hasn't had a mood this bad in a long time, probably a few months. I tell myself to be patient, to stay calm. I get on the bed with her and say "You seem very, very angry" She screams more. I pick up a few of her stuffed toys, which she never touches, and make them say "I am so angry at you, Mama, for turning off the TV! I'm VERY ANGRY!" Olivia Doll says it, Angelina Doll, Kitty Doll. Janey watches for a bit and then repeats "I'm very angry!" I rush to praise her.."Great talking! You told me how you are feeling!" She grabs my hand and bends my fingers backwards, while kicking me.
I get off the bed and say "I can't be on the bed with you if you are hurting me" I walk away, keeping her within sight. She screams and flails around. Then she screams out "Want to watch Hercules!" I say "I can't put on the TV until you are calmed down" She screams louder. I say "Would you like to take a shower?" At this point, I'm counting the seconds until Tony gets home, and thinking how a shower would kill some time. She screams back "WANT TO TAKE A SHOWER!" and so we do. I don't get in with her, not feeling like being bitten or hit. I sit in the bathroom and hope she wants a long shower. She fiddles with the taps and makes the water too cold. I fix it, and remind her not to touch the taps. She does it again. I tell her next time she'll have to get out. She makes it hot and yells "FIX WATER!" I get her out. She is furious.
We go in the living room. She says "want to watch SpongeBob?" I ask her if she can calm down. She responds by taking a deep breath. I put on SpongeBob, unsure as so often if I'm doing the right thing. She watches for a few minutes, and then punches the TV and screams. I walk toward her and she lunges to bite me. I block her. I am out of ideas, out of patience. She goes back on her bed, screaming. She asks for the iPad. I give it to her, and sit out of biting range. There are ten minutes until Tony gets home. She plays with the iPad for about 5, and then asks for cheese again. I cut some for her. Two minutes until Tony. She asks for the TV. I say no. She screams and tries to put it on herself. I hear Tony coming in. I tell her Daddy is home. He walks in the door and asks how things are. I say "hellish" I tell him I'm going to the store for a minute, and I leave, shaken and tired.
To the others out there living this life---how are we going to make it? How are we going to get through the rest of our life that's like this? How can we help the kids we love so very much? How can we keep them safe while keeping ourselves safe? What are we going to do?