First New Stage:Flipping Out Mom & Dad with the 3- to 4-year-old Schizophrenia Act

Will went through this stage as well. That’s how I diagnosed it in Liam. This is how it works. Liam calmly asks for something; I give him exactly what he wants; then he drops into an immediate tantrum saying that’s NOT what he wants. All of the reconciliation attempts I make are futile, only adding to the frustration of this strange little being. For about a week, Bill and I have both tried the calming words, trying to talk Liam through this as he sobs, screams and kicks. Will sobbed and screamed, no kicking. This is tricky for me as I don’t want or need to be kicked, not that anyone does, but I’m like the football player with the bad knee: I have spots that are slightly weak that I try to protect.

Every morning this week between 5:30 and 6:30, we’ve had an episode. It happens throughout the day as well, but not at school. After all, as the character Wilson on "Home Improvement" once said, “Parents are the bone upon which children sharpen their teeth.” I’d much rather take this than hear at the end of a school day that a teacher had to bear the brunt of it.

Yesterday morning, it all started as I handed him his warm chocolate milk that he had asked for but, now that I’m handing it to him, does NOT want it. I finally remember what we did with Will. Pulling “calm karma” from the voices of teachers, I say, “I want to talk to you, but I can’t until you stop this.” Then I leave the room. Bill stumbles upon the episode, and in an exasperated voice says, “I’ll go talk to him.” (Bill’s voice reminds me of the exasperated fish from Nemo that always has to deflate the puffer fish when he pops into a ball.) I say, “I wouldn’t go in there if I were you.” So we listen to the music for 10 minutes. Then into the kitchen Liam comes, gasping for breath after expending so much energy on this tantrum. He sputters in a small breathless voice, “I… need…some…warm….chocolate.” Ah, the power monger alien has left my son’s body. My Liam has returned.

(And then, there is the Second New Stage: Exper-ee-menting.)