It all started innocently enough. The landscaper for our next-door neighbors always brings his dog to work. The dog’s a cute little Silky Terrier, and my daughter always wants to play with him. This time he wandered into our yard, and she asked if she could go see him. I said okay and off she went. Then the landscaper called the dog back to him. My disappointed daughter stood on our lawn, watching him go, longing for the dog. I called her back in and she asked if we could go play with the dog next door. I said no, the landscaper has to do his job and we can’t walk on his grass seeds after he spreads them, but we will go talk to him in a while. I wanted to get an estimate.
We went next door and my daughter called the dog as I talked to the guy. He gave me his card and he told me that he’d be by once he was done. I told my daughter to come back home with me. She didn’t want to, but she came. All the way home, she asked me if she could go back. I assured her that the guy would come over with his dog later and she could play with him all she wanted.
“Really?” she said.
So we waited. And waited. And waited. She asked me if she could go over there by herself about 20 times and I said no, she was not going to go hang around a strange man. “We know him,” she said.
“No, I just talked to him. We do not know him.”
“Yes we do!”
She asked me to come with her. I explained that people do not come hang around a guy while he tries to do his job. She kept looking out the window, waiting, waiting. She turned away for a moment, looked back and erupted, “He’s GONE! His truck is GONE! YOU LIED! YOU LIED!” and she burst into tears.
“I did not lie,” I said calmly. “He told me he was coming over.”
“YES YOU DID! YOU LIED! YOU LIED!” She ran out onto the deck. I ran after her. Ever since she tried to climb over the rail, we can’t leave her alone on the deck. She did not try to climb over the rail. She sat on the floor.
“I can’t go away. I don’t want you to hurt yourself.”
“Yes you do. You want to hurt me. You lied.”
“I do not want to hurt you. How about I call next door and see what happened?”
I led her inside. I called next door. Our neighbor said the landscaper left without mentioning anything about coming over. We hung up.
I needed something to soften the blow. “He said the guy had a family emergency and he had to go.” She burst into tears, this time, screaming and crying.
“YOU LIED TO ME! YOU LIED TO ME!”
Not until just now. “I did not lie. He said he was coming over, and I thought he was coming over. He lied to ME.”
She ran to her room, slammed the door and started to kick it. I let her. I needed the break. Unfortunately, she was only in there about five minutes. She came out to look out the window.
“You wouldn’t let me go over there, and now he’s not coming!”
“No, I wouldn’t let you go over there. It is not safe to hang out with strange men. Plus, I thought he was coming over.”
“YOU LIED TO ME!” She let out an earsplitting scream. And another. And another.
“Well, he was going to come over so he’ll call me and then he’ll come over another day.”
Gigantic heaving sobs, hysterical screams for another 15 minutes.
The landscaper did call, and we arranged for him to come over the next morning. His idea.
“Is he coming?” she asked.
“Not tonight.” It was dark by this time and she already knew he wasn’t coming tonight.
“Call him back and tell him to come tonight!” she whined through tears.
“Honey, he’s got a family emergency. He’s got to be there. He’s not coming tonight. He’s coming tomorrow –“
“Uh, no, in the morning, but—“
“Noooooooooo!” more sobbing.
“BUT when we hire him, he’ll be here with his dog the whole time and you can play with him then.”
“But not tonight!” more crying.
All in all, the crying lasted an hour and a half, with a few short breaks, during which I mixed myself a few stiff Tom Collinses, no cherry. We’d change the subject and something about that would make her cry and then we were back to the dog. My husband came home and tried to talk to her. Didn’t work. We had to delay dinner an hour to walk her through the tantrum. We sent both kids to bed early that night. When she can’t stop like this, usually it means she’s tired. I should have sent her to bed before dinner.
My husband concluded that she needs medication. We’ve had her evaluated and the doctor said medication wasn’t an option right now. We learned that she’s a perfect angel in school, and the doctor said that the good news is that since she doesn’t do it in school, she can control the acting out. The bad news is that she saves it all up for us.
The doctor recommended a treatment program for us, but it’s a long one. We’d have to commit to the whole thing, and we are looking to move back East. But we have to do something.
This week I bought her an inflatable punching bag – the kind pops back up when you hit it. It’s been good for her. She likes it and she does use it when she’s mad, instead of hitting herself. It’s not the answer, but it’s a method of coping. We are going to ask about other courses of treatment. They may recommend we wait until she can have some stability in her treatment program. Until then, we’ll do the best we can.