The Day My Son Just… Broke
As if raising triplets weren’t a big enough horror story, on recent Sunday my son just… well, I don’t know how to explain it. He just broke.
He is by far the more emotional of my two boys. Always has been; I expect he always will be. He can be touchy on his best days, and simply telling him not to slam the door can result in an angry mood. He has on more than one occasion told me he wants to break his favorite toy of the moment, simply because I told him throwing it across the room will break it.
And his mood swings in this direction tend toward hitting. When one of the other kids is yelling in his general vicinity – not at him, mind you – he will occasionally walk over to them and just hit them. Great. But at least I’m prepared for this behavior. Three count him to correct his behavior and move on to a timeout if needed.
But as I said, on this recent Sunday he just broke.
It started around 7 p.m. It had been a long weekend full of Gymboree and a birthday party and visits to both grandparents’ houses. But Sunday itself was nothing special, just dinner at grandmom’s house. But as we were climbing into the truck to leave, Liam decided he wanted to go first, even though Sadie sits further from the door than he does.
But then he secured his feet to the head rest and wouldn’t move them, blocking my daughter from getting to her seat. So I warn him that I’m going to have to take him out of his seat if he doesn’t cooperate. I three count him and get… nothing. Out he comes. Now he is mad. But he is three. Have you ever met a three year old? Any interaction of any type has about a 50% chance of making them mad. They are like terrible little dictators unused to not getting their way; Stalin on steroids.
Put him in the car seat, buckle him in. She screams on the top of his lungs.
Whatever. Been there, done that, kid. Not bothering me. Except that he kept doing it for the entire 10-hour car ride. Ok, so it was only 10 minutes, but it got so bad my daughter said he was “hurting her feelings.”
I’m not going to run through the entire course of events here. Suffice to say:
- He didn’t want to go upstairs, until…
- He did, and I hadn’t waited long enough for him
- I had waited, but in the wrong place (silly of me to wait 10 feet from the gate, rather than at the gate door)
- He wanted to walk up the stairs after my wife carried him up
- He didn’t want to go potty
- Until, of course, he did want to go potty.
And finally he slept. But again, I started this post with how my little Halloween goblin simply broke, so you don’t think this story ends now, do you?
No. Of course not.
So he cries.
Why? He has boogies. He needs a tissue. He has a headache. He has to pee. He has aliens abducting him. About two of these are true. He cries and settles. Then he cries some more, only to settle again. And then he cries some more.
At 9 p.m. he cries.
At 10 he cries.
At 11 he cries
But finally seems to drop off to a deep sleep. He has to be exhausted enough to sleep to morning. You would think; you’d be wrong.
At midnight he cries; again
I get on the monitor and ask him what is wrong. He’s all done sleeping. Because you know, three-out-four pediatricians agree that 35 cumulative minutes of sleep are all 3-year-olds need. Oh, and he wants to play with Daddy. Which is a completely reasonable request at midnight. On a Sunday. For a kid with a bedtime so steeped in ritual repetitiveness the Catholic Church is jealous.
And he just starts screaming. Arrrrrrgh.
He reaches operatic monitor-red-lining screaming that must stretch the top of his freaking lung capacity. Nothing comprehensible, just screaming. Just reprehensible screaming. My wife and I don’t much care. What we can’t ignore is the unfairness to the other two kids trying to sleep in the room.
So we threaten him, we will take him out of the room if he continues screaming. This seems like a 3-year-old vacation, because of course it means a trip to our bed. Trips to a parents’ bed is like the adult male equivalent of going to Spring Training and Jamaica all at once. So we threaten to take the others out of the room.
Surprisingly, he is OK with this plan at first, which while not a great course of action, is at least something. Notice, I said “at first,” because the minute one of his siblings is picked up, he immediately wants them back and takes screaming to a new high for which a Guinness Book Of Records category must be created, if one does not exist.
I jested above about my son breaking, but at some point his voice actually breaks. After this point his screams become a scratched out version of the real thing. He still manages a red-line breaking scream, but its clear his vocal chords are shredded.
We can ignore it. We’ve long since moved downstairs. But I find it just too uncomfortable to sleep with my wife on a couch so I head back upstairs, where I finally find sleep.
He had one more relapse, sometime around 5 a.m. Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you how long it lasted, it could have been five minutes, it could have been half an hour. After that, he was quiet for the last 2 or so hours till morning.
We have this sign leading up to our stairs with a verse from a popular nursery rhyme. It goes:
You make me happy;
When skies are gray
Yeah, right. That may well be true most times. It wasn’t this particular night.