I've come down with a proper cold, so I left work early today and picked Boy up at preschool with the goal of passing him to Nanny and cuddling under the covers for a couple hours. I got to the school just as his teacher was putting him, half-naked and very sleepy-eyed, on the potty. I was excited, because potty training wasn't so much happening at home, but they have had more success. As I helped him get dressed, his teacher mentioned that we needed to work on the hitting, and that today he bit another child. Boy has taken to reacting to everything he doesn't like (and when you are three, there are a lot of things you don't like: brushing your teeth, broccoli, your sister, etc. etc.) by making threats. "I'm going to hit you, mommy," or "I'm going to throw the toothbrush." Most of the time, they are empty threats. I initially reacted fiercely, picking up a toy to toss in the "trash" just in case he made good on his promise. I decided that he was trying to provoke everyone around him, to intimidate us into giving into his toddler demands, and from that moment simply responded, "No, you won't hit me." It mostly works.
But he remains quick to anger, as a lot of three year olds are. Before we use to think he wasn't verbal enough to process his emotions in a non-destructive manner, but we can't legitimately make that claim now. I can only hope he's at his wits' end trying to control everything around him, that he's given up crying and moved straight to ridiculous threats (tonight he said he was going to hit the watermelon if I didn't give it to him). Someday soon, he will wake up and be reasonable, patient, and pacifistic.
Until that day, I can only say that hearing about your child's violent outbursts continues to be one of the worst feelings a parent can experience. I feel guilty about the well-being of the other kids. I feel guilty about putting such a wrench in a teacher's day. I feel guilty about not doing whatever it is I need to do to ensure that my son is well-adjusted, liked, and happy. This time around, though, rather than looking at me and telling me to "do something," the teacher just said, "Talk to him about it, and we will keep working too. Don't worry. He'll grow out of it." I still felt crummy, but I felt a little bit of hope. Enough hope, that when he threatened to hit the ceiling light because he didn't want me to turn it out at bedtime, I only tousled his hair and told him I loved him.