AAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! (The GIrl Who Cried Wolf. Convincingly.)

Startled? Me too.

This afternoon, I was working in the garden. Rory and Wyatt were playing in the playhouse, a couple hundred feet away or so. I heard a slam. I heard Rory yell angrily at Wyatt. And then I heard her take a deep breath and start to scream. AAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!! AAAGGGHH! AAAGGGHH! AAAGGGHH!

And I thought, oh, gosh, that’s it. This is the one time that she’s really hurt. She sounds different, doesn’t she? She’s hurt. What happened?

I thought all this as I ran out of the garden like I’d been shot out of a cannon. I arrived in about three shrieks. Maybe less.


I look. I don’t see anything. She’s still shrieking. I hold her tight while I look at my hand and she shrieks I WANT MAMA!


“I’m right here.”


Hmmm. I look at the fingers again. Nothing.

Wyatt (who has said Sorry Sorry Sorry) suddenly points to the door they were opening in the playhouse, a small, hidden door at the bottom that no one has opened in a while.

“We can’t get this open.”

Rory instantly stops screaming—-and I mean instantly, it’s like a switch has been turned off–and agrees. They can’t get this open.

I figure out how to get the door open and go back to the garden.

I’m sure her finger got caught in the door. I’m sure it hurt momentarily. But I cannot tell you (although I think I’ve tried before) how often we go through this. Not just for Wyatt-inflicted injuries, either. For everything.

This is not my first Rory rodeo. I get that there’s an excellent reason why she’s wired to sound the alarm at the slightest hint of injury and see if there’s anybody there to respond.

But I don’t know what to DO about it.

For one thing, it’s almost like she’s just playing a preprogrammed script. I’m not even sure she means to do it. It’s like, bump, and GO: AAAAGGGGHHH. AAAGGGHHH. AAAGGGGHHHH. I WANT MAMA. AAAAGGGGHHH. It’s like a bad habit.

And for another, I cannot possibly respond every time. And I really, really can’t tell. There have been times when she was really hurt, of course. Bleeding. Scraped. Wicked splinters. And there is just absolutely no difference in her screams. None. Once in a while, like today, there’s something that makes me thing–aha! this is it!–but no. Never. There is no correlation at all between the times I think maybe she really is hurt and the times she actually is hurt. I’m right most of the time, because I mostly assume that she is not hurt, and mostly, she is not hurt. But sometimes she fools me. Or sometimes I brush her off completely, and then an hour later, find the horrible bruise or gash.

When I say she screams for everything, I mean it, too. Later tonight, Rob swatted her on the behind as she ran by getting ready for bed. In a cheerful friendly go on, get out of here kind of way, not with anything in it–just the kind of pat you’d give any kid. Seriously, I almost hesitate to write it out of fear that it will sound like it was something other than a teasing pat. There was no rush, no one was late for bed, no one was out of patience. It was just….nothing.

And she lost it again. I’m just going to cut and paste, because here we go: AGGGHH! AGGGHHH! AAAAGGGHHH! I WANT MAMA! YOU HURT ME! AAAGGGHHH!

I don’t think she does it if I’m not around, so she’s got that going for her. No one’s mentioned it, and I feel sure this qualifies as the kind of thing teachers would bring up. It’s just for me. In fact, if she doesn’t think I am around, or is really in the middle of something, she just goes and gets herself a band-aid. So maybe, to prove, two years in, that I love her passionately, which I do and which she knows with her head and heart, if not yet with her instincts, I should run and swoop in at the drop of every shriek?

I’m not gonna lie to you. I just can’t.

I need a plan B.

3 Responses to “AAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! (The GIrl Who Cried Wolf. Convincingly.)”

  1. My son does this. For a while I called him the boy who cried wolf. Then I just called him the boy who cried continuously.
    We had the same thing here where my husband patted him on the bottom as he ran by and turned around and screamed, NO HIT DADDY!!!!!!!!
    I do have to say we are almost 2 years in and he has improved astronomically. I have no advice–I think he just realized that no matter how loud he screams, even if he is hurt, I am still very calm and talking quietly and he has to quiet down to hear me. I comfort him, but I don’t go overboard about it.

  2. KJ (aka Lola Granola) says:

    Oh, God, we’re two years in, too… and it is BETTER, sure, in that it’s only once or twice a day instead of once or twice every ten minutes…today was like a flashback, I guess. Which shouldn’t surprise me, because I was writing about those first hard days this week, so I’m a little back there in my mind. Make that a lot, in some ways.
    It still makes me crazy!

  3. Four years in, I would just say that your likelihood of being genuinely able to even muster a “swoop in” will dwindle… and that’s not entirely bad.

    Can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard an “aahhhhh” and just called “work it out with your brother, please!” from the other room.

    The up-side to the natural wear-down is that it communicates TO THE KIDS that you don’t think it’s an emergency. Therefore THEY do not need to be alarmed.

    Don’t know if you feel like you’re feeling too much of an emotional pull-back. If so, I would say go find an adoption family counselor, and spend a few months there. It’s worth it to have support and a good game plan while still staying emotionally engaged with your child (which of course our kids need us to be, in order for them to feel safe attaching to us!).

    But otherwise, teaching her (in the calm moments) that her crying “emergency” when there is none makes it hard for you to know when she’s really hurt.

    And to echo KJ, yes it does get better.