Yesterday Kerri had the mother of all temper tantrums. The day before, bully boy had hit her on the head, hard. But he apologized, so we chalked it up to an accident. But I wrote her teacher a note, since the teacher was unaware of the incident. And so, yesterday, the teacher grilled Kerri about it. She decided that it was indeed an accident, since he apologized, and that Kerri was very mature and had handled it very well, following her classroom policies. The teacher made a point to talk to me about it when I picked Kerri up from school, right in front of Kerri (who kept walking away and looked upset that this conversation was happening). We went home, did homework, and I praised Kerri for reading her first book all on her own. As a reward, we went outside to play for an hour before Kung Fu class.
And that is when it happened. It started when we went outside to play, and none of her friends were in front. They were all playing in the back, where Kerri is not allowed to go. So she started getting upset and saying she hated the neighborhood. Then she approached me (I was sitting on the doorstep), and told me I had a ladybug in my hair. Without thinking, I shook my hair and head (because I have this horrific fear of bugs). And that is when Kerri lost it. She started yelling at me, telling me I was the worstest for shaking my head. So I told her to go inside.
Inside, she continued her yelling and screaming. She would not listen to anything I had to say. I needed a few minutes to count to ten, so I told her she had a choice: she could go to the corner in time out or go to her room on a time out. She stomped up the stairs, screaming and crying that she hated me, that she wanted to go back to China, and that I was not fair. She slammed her door and started banging things and throwing things in her room. I took a deep breath and counted to ten, determined not to raise my voice.
When her crying and screaming seemed to calm down a few minutes later, I told her that when she was ready to talk she could come downstairs. This only led to more screaming and crying, but eventually she started yelling that she was sorry. I told her to come downstairs so we could talk face to face, since I would not scream up the stairs at her. So she did. And then she asked to watch TV. I told her no, that she would not go outside or watch TV for the next hour because she was being punished. She erupted again and was sent back upstairs to continue raging in her room. I took another deep breath and counted to twenty this time.
When she finally stopped banging and screaming, it was eerily quiet. I asked her to go to the bathroom and blow her nose and wash her face. She started crying all over again, telling me I could not tell her what to do. And that she was leaving for China. I finally raised my voice, and said: "fine, then go now. But you take nothing with you. You leave the same way you came, go back to the orphanage if that is what you want, but leave now and don't forget to close the door behind you." I instantly regretted every word I said. Kerri said nothing. Next thing I know, she is in the bathroom, blowing her nose and washing her face. She came back down and shuffled her feet. I asked her to sit beside me on the couch and look me in the face. She reluctantly did.
We had a conversation about how hurtful her words were. And that I would never say any of those things to her, or let anyone bully her. So why did she think it was OK to bully someone else? She agreed it was not OK. We then talked about why she really was angry. She would not say. I told her she needed to use her words instead of screaming and throwing things around and saying mean things. She agreed. I reminded her that she was not going to go outside or watch TV, but that we needed to get going to Kung Fu. She started to panic and worried that I would tell her Sifu that she had misbehaved and disrespected me. I told her I would not tell her Sifu, but that she would. She pleaded and begged, and all I said was: "We'll see." Her Daddy called and - after I briefed him - she talked to him, and then re-apologized to me. I told her I did not want her to leave, and I hoped she would choose to stay. She asked if she could live with me when she moved out. I told her she could stay with us as long as she wanted. We hugged.
We dressed for Kung Fu and she was all of a sudden her chipper, happy self again. I think she was trying to pretend nothing had happened and trying to change the subject. So, I let her. When we got to Kung Fu, her outbursts and anger were all but forgotten - by her - and she happily went to play tag with her friends. And when we got back in the car to go home, she said she wanted pizza. I told her I would not reward her bad behaviour that day and she would eat whatever Daddy was making for dinner. She went on to say she would not eat anything but pizza. So I told her that was fine, she could go straight to her room to bed without dinner if that is what she wanted. Or, she could choose to eat whatever Daddy made. The decision was hers to make.
We arrived home and we sat at the table, where Daddy had prepared our meal. As we talked about our day, I told Daddy that Kerri said she would not eat what he had made. Kerri was already biting into a chicken nugget. She said: "I won't eat chicken." Daddy told her she was eating chicken. Kerri laughed and said: "Oh, that's right." And then I told Daddy that after dinner Kerri needed a quick bath and to go to bed. She had a test the next morning, so we reviewed at the dinner table. And then Daddy (knowing I needed some time to myself) gave Kerri a bath, and put her to bed. But not before she came downstairs to hug me goodnight.
This morning was better, and before Kerri left for school she made a point to give me a huge hug. I hugged her back, and silently prayed that whatever is really bothering my daughter ends soon. Because I did not recognize my daughter yesterday. And I came very close to losing my own temper, something I rarely do. I try to reason with Kerri, since she is a very logical child. And I know that deep down, something is troubling her - and it was not a ladybug that I shook out of my hair. But I am not sure if she even knows what is making her angry. Or, maybe, she is just afraid to say it out loud. I sincerely hope the incident with the bully was not the cause. Ever since this boy was put back in her classroom, Kerri has not been the same.
If this is normal six year old behaviour, then I am definitely not looking forward to the teenage years!
Life with Kerri gives me reason to worry.