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"Nothing" But Hysterics

band-aid

Lucas has officially set the world record for longest meltdown. As of yesterday, it's been going on for 10 days. Yes, he has moments of sweetness (like when he's sleeping!), but those moments are few and far between, often overshadowed by the screaming and obstinacy that has overtaken the boy we used to know.

Most child development books talk of the "terrible two's" as the cataclysmic event for which to prepare. But with Lucas, 2 came and went, business as usual — it wasn't until he turned 3 that hysteria became a regular part of our routine. Maybe Lucas is a late bloomer and the angst usually associated with 2 is now catching up with us. Or maybe 2 really isn't that bad, and the books and folklore need to be revised to address the "threatening three's."

Regardless of what's causing the seismic shift in Lucas's demeanor, the meltdowns are wreaking havoc on the rest of us. Six out of seven mornings, Lucas wakes up "in a mood," leaving my mom and me to battle over who will go into his room first.

And Lucas's antics are not reserved for his nearest and dearest. Last week his teacher reported that she almost had to call my mom to come and either calm Lucas down or take him home. Apparently, his Spider-Man Band-Aid, which had been just barely hanging on after four days of dutifully protecting the most miniscule of boo-boos, had finally fallen off. When Lucas realized that the quarter-square-inch of skin was now exposed, he had a meltdown. He demanded that his teachers stop the class to look for his fallen comrade. He wanted steps retraced and even went so far as to pat down his classmates to make sure the Band-Aid wasn't stuck to any of them.

band-aid

His teachers were finally able to placate him with an old-fashioned character-free Band-Aid, but not before putting a note in his backpack: "Please send Lucas to school tomorrow with extra Spider-Man Band-Aids."

Aside from the ongoing battle of the Band-Aids, sometimes all it takes to set Lucas off is to look in his direction or to laugh "wrong." Such horrors can send him into Exorcist-like behavior: repeated screams of "Nothing!" with lips pursed and arms flailing — any day now he'll be head-spinning and talking in tongues. I haven't yet figured out the significance of "Nothing!" but it seems to work for him.

I'm hoping that Lucas' behavior is truly developmental, and therefore temporary. Husband and my limits are tested every day as we try to maintain a united front against the crying, screaming, and thrashing body parts. Over the course of this latest 10-day meltdown, our tactics have swayed between the sympathetic and the hard-lined – we've tried putting him to bed earlier, we've tried reasoning through his feelings, we've taken away privileges and revoked TV time — all in vain. Husband tends to think that this is Lucas's way of testing our limits, almost like a test-drive into adolescence.

Whatever the cause, I can't take it anymore. "NOTHING!!!!"

band-aid

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