I’ve barely had time to breathe this week, let alone blog. Megan has single-handedly taken it upon herself to prematurely age me (even further!) with a mixture of relentless crying, screaming and super human levels of violence. Where as she has been acting this way for several months now, this week as I sat there applying Savlon to the scratches on my face, arms and chest and surveying the damage that she had done to Eva and Harry’s little faces, I realised that enough was enough. And so it went against everything that I believe in as a parent and I hated myself for sinking to such an all time low, but in a last bid attempt to get some much needed help…….I rang the Health visitor!!!!!
And actually, the Health Visitor was really sympathetic, listened to me while I sobbed and snivelled and told her about Megan’s outbursts and her constant reign of terror. She eventually advised me to book an appointment with the doctors which, again reluctantly, I did. The GP was surprisingly helpful, told me that my concerns were totally understandable, that it was important to first rule out any medical causes for her behaviour and that we would begin all assessments with a pediatrician and see where we go from there. And as I sat there with my little Meggy snuggling up on my knee, I began to worry whether we were doing the right thing at all.
Because I’m sure that everyone can relate on some level? Surely there are millions of parents out there dealing with an unruly two year old and feeling as though this stage will never end? I’m sure I’m not the only parent to be nipped, slapped, scratched and head butted? And yet at the same time, while I understand that they don’t call them the terrible twos for no good reason, this feels like so much more?
I think as a parent, and especially as a Mother, you feel that you know your child better than any other person on this planet. And taking that into consideration, I think when I look back, I knew from the very first day that we brought Megan home that on some level, she was different. For a start, she did nothing but scream and cry for twenty four hours a day, for six months solid. At first we used to joke that she was so angry for such a tiny baby, we would laugh as she smashed away her bottle, clawed at our faces when we tried to kiss her and kicked us repeatedly when we tried to cuddle her. I can remember countless occasions when she was finally asleep and Gaz and I used to take it in turns to cover her in kisses as it was literally the only time we would be allowed to show her any affection.
We spent months in and out of hospital, countless stays in the children’s ward, hours waiting in A&E and hundreds of miles travelling to various hospitals across the country. And every time the doctors saw her or we hit another brick wall without a diagnosis, they would scratch their heads and tell us that they couldn’t find any answers but that any baby who cried THAT much must have something wrong!! And sometimes, we would walk away from the hospital, feeling like frauds that another test result had come back normal, and I swear to God, if babies can smirk, Meggy most definitely did.
And I knew then, that this child of mine was a force to be reckoned with.
It’s a running joke in our house that if ever there is a chance of something going wrong, someone getting ill or hurting themselves, it will always be Megan. It could only ever have been Megan who had a reaction to her MMR jab, so severe that it affected her brain and her ability to walk. She was rushed into hospital and had every doctor on the ward declare that they had never seen a reaction quite like it spanning their entire careers. It could only ever have been Megan who was the first of my children to require stitches, falling and splitting her head open, right across her beautiful forehead. Only Megan who has fallen ill on every holiday, every Christmas, birthday or special occasion without fail. Always, Megan.
But as she approached eighteen months, she finally began to blossom from the screamy, angry baby into the most beautiful, sweet-natured and exceptionally loving child. And as she literally showered us with kisses, “I love you’s” and snuggles, we couldn’t believe the change in her and several times I would wonder, where did that angry baby go??
Everywhere we went, people would comment that she was “such a character”, remark how they had never met a child quite like her, laugh at her comical expressions and the little quirks that made her “Our Meggy”. She had us in hysterics with her array of funny faces, her comedy dance moves and renditions of “Let it go!” on repeat. At her two year check this May, when the Health Visitor declared that she had never met a child so exceptionally bright and advanced beyond her years, we literally burst with pride.
And then somehow, over the course of the last few months, it all just fell apart.
Previously we have made excuses about her behaviour, “Typical Megatron!!” we would say, rolling our eyes at her melt-downs. “Only Meggy!!”, we would laugh as we fully embraced all of her crazy little outbursts. But recently, over the last few months, her behaviour has gone from that of a tantrumming two year old to something that actually, is much more serious than that. It started with just a few little slaps here and there, pulling Evas hair, pushing Harry over and scratching at us in a fit of rage. And in no time at all it escalated to these full on tantrums, lasting hours on end, deliberately digging her nails in, hitting, kicking, biting and desperately trying to hurt us.
And if I’m honest, if it was just the aggressive outbursts then I think I would be more likely to sit and wait for this stage to pass. But its more than that, it’s other more concerning issues such as her complete lack of social skills, the fact that she hates other children, other adults, any kind of situation where there may be crowds, noise, a change in her routine. It’s the fact that despite at her two year check she was found to have the vocabulary of a four year old, she has regressed to no longer communicating with us verbally and going days on end merely grunting at us or using repeated noises such as, “Gah!”. It’s the worry that at some point in the near future, during one of these meltdowns or fits of rage, she is going to seriously hurt either herself, or more likely, one of her siblings.
This last week Eva has become quite terrified of her baby sister. She has repeatedly begged, “Save me!” as Megan has torn out another handful of her hair or whacked her with whatever is closest to hand. She has asked me, “Why doesn’t Megan like me anymore?” where instead of what was once a loving kiss and cuddle, Megan is simply slapping or kicking her in its place. And that’s really heartbreaking to witness, to see Eva desperately trying to regain her sisters affections with such maturity, and yet being far too young to understand why it isn’t reciprocated anymore.
And I know that they say you should never compare your children, but I think we are all very much guilty of it to some degree. And rightly or wrongly, we do often find ourselves saying, “But Eva never did anything like that!!” or, “Lewis would never have acted that way!” and with no other experience to draw on, Megans behaviour then appears even more abnormal and more concerning than it would had we experienced this with our older children. People tell us perhaps we were just lucky, perhaps Lewis and Eva were exceptionally well behaved children and we should thank our lucky stars that we only have one wildcat in the family. But then people tell you all sorts when you are struggling, they are always there in your ear with some kind of “useful advice” that by this stage, you want to throw right back in their faces and tell them, we’ve tried it all!!!!
Because really, we have literally tried EVERYTHING. I have completely exhausted all of my parenting resources trying to find something that my child will respond to. And after weeks of positive reinforcement, sticker charts, naughty steps, time out, taking away toys and treats and a whole array of discipline techniques I have picked up via Super Nanny, I have come to the conclusion that I am wasting my time as to put it quite simply, this child of mine could not give a tiny rats ass!!! She just doesn’t care, not one bit!! After the hell of listening to her scream for five hours on repeat, when I am bruised and scratched and tearing my hair out, I have stood there and, rightly or wrongly, I have screamed in her face that she is being a very naughty girl!! And she merely scowls at me, or, and this is when I question whether this is all some kind of plot to destroy me, she simply smirks.
Gaz has come home from work several times to find me sat in the kitchen, covered in bruises, Megan sat watching Peppa Pig like a picture of innocence, and he has looked at me incredulously and asked, “But she’s only two?!”. And I have told him, this child has strength like you wouldn’t believe! When she is fuelled by whatever it is that triggers her rage, there is nothing, or no-one, that can stand in her way. I lie awake at night worrying about what the next day will bring, will I wake up in the morning to our happy little Meggy, or will I be greeted by the angry rage of Megatron? And ultimately, where will this end? Am I heading for a channel 5 documentary, “Terrorised by my two year old!”, or simply an early grave??
And I wont lie to you, it is pushing me to my very limit. It is very easy for others to say, “Oh its just terrible twos” or remark, “She’ll grow out of it!” because today, right here and now, that isn’t going to make this any easier for me. I’ve seen toddlers throwing a tantrum, I’ve witnessed kids headbutting the walls and slapping at their parents, even biting their siblings. And yet I’ve never seen a child continue that behaviour for hours on end, to seem so angry, so violent and so completely un-apologetic about it afterwards. I have questioned myself so many times this last few weeks, beat myself up that perhaps I am letting her down in some way, perhaps she is feeling left out, craving attention, is fighting for her place in a larger family that was never her choice to be in.
And the question that I keep coming back to is simply, what is wrong with her?? Or, and this is perhaps the most difficult part, is it a case of that actually, everything is right with her? This is just Megan. A child who is scratching and hitting you one minute, cuddling and kissing you the next. A child who can scream, shout and headbutt the floor one day but be laughing and joking with you another. A child so exceptionally bright that she isn’t yet mature enough to cope with that level of intelligence, a child so mentally and physically frustrated that she knows no other way but to lash out. A child who is finding her feet amongst her siblings, pushing boundaries, testing the water and adjusting to her role as the un-official “middle child”. Because really, just because she is different, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing? Just because she isn’t like her siblings doesn’t mean that actually, she isn’t exactly who she is meant to be?
And so for now I guess that we follow this path of pediatricians and assessments and we see where it takes us. But my gut instinct tells me that most likely, at the end of it all, it won’t make the slightest bit of difference to us anyway. Because regardless of whether there is more to this than meets the eye, she will still be our Meggy. Our crazy, hilarious, gorgeous little girl. The angriest two year old that ever there was.