The only thing worse than dealing with your child's complete and utter emotional meltdown is doing so while trapped in a car on a roadtrip.
Which is what happened to us this weekend.
Over the years, I've come to realize that when a child's mood suddenly alters for no good reason, oftentimes there's a physical cause.
I've talked to Lily's pediatrician and he agreed that she probably has low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia.
I wish I'd known this when she was an infant, because she really showed signs of it back then. Basically, if she misses a meal, she loses her mind. Her blood sugar drops too low, and she cries uncontrollably.
As an infant, that meant if she didn't get fed before she was really hungry, she no longer wanted a bottle. She just wanted to scream at the top of her lungs for a half hour.
Now, it means if she gets over-hungry and -- even worse -- consumes candy on an empty stomach, she has a nervous breakdown until we can force a peanut butter cracker down her throat.
Here are the symptoms I found on a health website (I'll put the pertinent one in bold):
Shakiness, dizziness, sweating, hunger, headache, irritability, pale skin color, sudden moodiness or behavior changes, such as crying for no apparent reason, clumsy or jerky movements, difficulty paying attention, or confusion, tingling sensations around the mouth.
It's sad to watch, really. This time Lily started sobbing in the back seat during our drive to
Jacksonville. And once she gets on a crying jag with low blood sugar, she can't stop. And life seems miserable.
"I don't want to be in this family,'' she sobbed. "I'm going to live in the woods!''
She's only 5. I don't think living in the woods is an option in Broward County, anyway. There are no woods.
"This is the worst day of my life,'' she cried.
"Ditto,'' we were thinking.
I always carry my handy dandy peanut butter crackers, since I finally figured out what was going on. And we made her eat one, and sure enough, her half-hour dismal state of emotion was over.
I doubt there are any parenting counselors who would advise that when your child starts crying for no reason, you say, "Here, eat! You'll feel better!''
But in this case it works.
There are plenty of websites where the problem of hypoglycemia is discussed.
I learned that a symptom of a hypoglycemic episode during the night is nightmares. Lily has those on a regular basis.
I always ask her what she was dreaming. The other night she told me her nightmare was this: a bad guy was trying to hit her with a pillow.
Ahhh, to be a child.
Here's one of the stranger 'triggers' I ran across on the Web:
"If an older child drinks alcohol on an empty stomach.''
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