The Age of Frustration

The first few years of a child’s life are generally associated with fresh little nicknames: Terrible Twos, Threenagers, Effing Fours. But somewhere between those threes and those fours lies a dark, dark place confusing stage. All I can do is sit back and watch while this sweet little girl in a tutu is trying to figure out how to draw a stick figure person, while praying that she doesn’t spiral into complete mania.


These past six months have been like this insane mix of pure sweetness, independence, wit, and complete and utter obsession with perfection. It’s like she can’t cut herself a break and she’s her own toughest critic. I’m not sure if it’s a result of me trying to guide her (maybe I’ve been too hard when she makes mistakes? maybe I’m not patient enough?) or if it’s just the fact that she’s set the bar wickedly high for herself. My daughter’s understandable lack of super-advanced motor skills and perfected hand-eye coordination frustrates her. Pair this from any one of the following: hunger, lack of sleep, inability to have her way, and down the rabbit hole we go.

It’s like she expects that she needs to absolutely nail nearly every task she undertakes or else she gets really disappointed. And my attempts to help her out are met with staunch independence. And the whole process of whatever I attempted to help her with have to begin again so that she can do it herself from the very beginning. So you can imagine how long it takes for us to get ready. And all I want to do is keep her from leaving the house with her hair looking like this:

"I already brushed my hair, Mom."
“I already brushed my hair, Mom.”

Taking this pre-K kiddo from “IT’S RUUUIIINNNNEEEED! EV-REE-THING IS RUUUIIINNNNEEEED!” to calmly assessing a situation and finding a solution to a mistake has been quite a challenge as well as a lesson in patience for me. Everything from fort building, hair brushing, reaching things, and getting dressed to coloring, drawing, or writing her letters can send her into an absolute meltdown of epic proportions.

I feel as though I’m constantly attempting to let her know she’s doing a great job, providing as much support and love as possible. Deep breathing (both of us), big hugs, keeping holy water and a crucifix at hand, and reminding her to ask for help (before shit goes south) are all I feel like I can do while she figures out what she is capable of and what she may need a hand with. I even came up with the little adage of “Take a mistake and make it great!” which we say when she’s made a mistake and loses her mind. This simply means that we put a sticker over a poorly drawn letter or maybe draw a hat on the picture of Daddy whose hairstyle she screwed up. All I feel like I can do for now is to give her some tools and let her know I’m here if she needs a hand.

In the meantime, she’s the boss in her own little world. Like when she asks to play a game with me … Sounds sweet, yes? I think so too. Until I realize that everything I do is wrong. I’m using the wrong voice for clip-on dress Rapunzel, or making her say the wrong thing, or putting her in the wrong outfit.

And here we go. Remember when you wondered when they’d say their first words?

3 thoughts on “The Age of Frustration

  1. Well, you just described my life these days. I do the same things as you all while inwardly praying that she isn’t developing early onset OCD.


  2. Thanks for the warning!!! I saw my first glimmer of this just Monday with my 2-year-old. He hung up his jacket and was mad his mittens (attached by a string and threaded through the sleeves of his jacket) were touching the floor, other shoes, the wall… as he batted them around full force to move them away from the offending items. The more he batted his arms at them, the angrier he got.


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