Four O’Clock this morning. Olly, our 4 year-old, wakes for a half hour tantrum. Nothing will quieten him, nothing make him happy. Everything is wrong. Nothing can make it right. If mummy tries to help he wants daddy and vice versa. He wants to be in our bed until we agree to let him and then he wants to be in his own… until I try to take him there. He wants a drink until I try to go and get it. He yells ‘go away daddy’, heartbreakingly, until I go away, then he wants me back. The whole thing is a lesson in the implacable illogic of a small child. This is pre-rational behaviour ? primitive, unarguable, terrifying. Discussion is pointless, reason redundant. Right now, the least helpful question in the world is ‘what’s wrong?’ but it’s all you can ask.
In the end, it passes, like it always does, and he’s sleeping again. In the silence I wonder how on earth human beings ever jump the giant gap from scary, tearful there to happy, settled here. Or if we ever really leave it behind.