Sunday, December 23, 2007

What the heck?

Iris has such confusing behavior. I often find it hard to know how to help her because I just can't figure out what is going on in her brain.

She's been acting extra confusing ever since she was sick several weeks ago. Her latest thing, since the sickness, is that she always talks about being sick or not feeling good. She wanted to come home from school early one day ;ast week because she didn't feel good. She rejects the idea of going to play at the park or visiting friends or going to the store because she's "sick". But she's not sick, is the frustrating part. So, I suspect it's something emotional (which I touched on in a post about her coming home from school last week), yet I don't have a clue how to reach her or figure out what is behind it.

Her other thing, which has gotten worse lately, is that she has a very, very sensitive sense of smell. I have noticed that some things don't bother her, like the candles that I burn almost daily, but bad smells really upset her. For instance, last weekend we went to a birthday party and as all the kids sat down to eat she wouldn't sit on any of the upholstered chairs because she didn't like the way they smelled. She was practically hysterical about it and we left the party with her very upset. Today she was going to accompany me the to the store with a promise of a treat and getting to look at toys but she flipped out when she got in the car and it smelled bad. To her credit, it did smell a little bad (I later discovered some old milk spilled on the floor) but it was barely noticeable to me. To her it was bad enough to cause a breakdown and a refusal to come to the store even after I restated the promise of a treat and toy browsing.

The biggest bit of confusing behavior was exhibited clearly this evening. Her very good friend came over to spend time with us so her parents could go to a party. Her friend plays lovely with other kids, is a great listener, is all around a pretty "good" kid. We had zero problems with her. This is the same friend who came over last Friday and laid down with Iris for the evening, her parents picking her up close to midnight.Anyways, it was the same routine tonight, but the friend was a little apprehensive about being in Iris's bed because last time Iris would just not stop talking and was keeping her awake. The three of us made an agreement that if her friend asked her to stop talking and she didn't, then I would put her friend in my bed for the night. Probably not 10 minutes in to the night I hear a squabble on the monitor and the friend is crying, Iris is yelling, things are a mess. Iris had whacked her friend with a book and was being very, very loud. Her friend wanted to go lay in my bed and I couldn't blame her. After the relocation I went to Iris's bed and sat down with her, explaining we had an agreement that she didn't keep so I had to mover her friend to my bed and that it's not okay to hit or yell at our friends.

I mean, what the hell?!?! I sort of get being a jerk to your parents or to your sister, but your best friend? Why would you hit her and yell at her, especially when you wanted more than anything for her to come over and play with you and sleep in bed with you?!?! I don't understand the behavior at all. Of course, Iris's impeccably behaved friend fell right to sleep in the new bed while Iris sat up in her room and made all kinds of noise for maybe a good hour before going to sleep. Mental note: no longer invite children over who are better behaved than mine. It makes my kids look bad.

I try very hard not to compare her to other children, but I couldn't help but think, um, gee Iris, look at how much nicer your friend treats other people!

At school on Tuesday I was the working parent and Iris got in several altercations with other children. More than any other child did that day. She fought over toys and over details of the space ship the children were building. She pushed and hit other children. It was really overwhelming for me and I was very glad the teacher was there to sort things out. I could stand back and, frankly, take some mental notes while she handled things.

I joked with Matt tonight that when our girls are seven and nine they will have no friends because Iris will be too mean to other children and Eloise will just beat other children up.

I thought that kids learned not to be assholes to other kids when they realized that other kids won't want to hang out with them if they act that way. So why hasn't Iris learned this? Is she still too young? Most of the kids she knows are older than her by six months or more. Is that enough of an age gap to really make a big difference with this sort of thing?

Ah, if only I knew.


  1. WRT to illness, Michael has been a bit aprehensive of things since he was sick one week with a fever and chest cold and then the next week we ended up in the ER with asthma. He's been a lot more likely to tell me he's feeling sick or that he needs his "orange medicine" (children's motrin) when there is no discernable need that I can see. I'm sure both happening back to back was pretty traumatic for him and since Iris had a stomach bug with vomitting the smell sensitivity could be playing into that as well.

    As for other stuff, I would guess it's a combination between circumstances (holidays, recent illness) and developmental. I really do think at that age there can be a big difference in development even if the age gap is only six months.

    Best of luck and I hope you guys can work through it to your happy medium soon.

  2. Have you ever read "Raising Your Spirited Child"? It may help. I read the increased sense of smell and thought of this book. It talks about that as well as behavioral issues.

    I hope you can figure this out. It must be so frustrating!

    Happy Holidays :)

  3. There are a couple reason why "the friend" was better behaved last night. She wasn't on her turf and she is 6 months older than Iris. Believe me, the examplary friend can be a little shit when she feels like! Plus, I think Iris was reacting to "perfect friend" blowing her off at the park the day before.

    Have you talked to Iris's doctor or Bastyr about her sensitivity to smell? Since it's new maybe there is something that can be done to make it less upsetting for her.

    As for being sick, it's traumatic for me to throw up a lot and I'm a grown up. Iris is probably have a little kid-style-PTSD from her illness. I'll ask my brother the kid-shrink what he thinks would help alleviate her anxiety. I know I feel a certain type of post-illness PTSD when I get as sick as Iris was.


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