It comes in waves.

When you watch the ripples on a lake, and two big sets of waves come together and it’s all foamy and turbulent? That’s the state we reached this morning. The screaming was epic.

New year, post vacation, then Monday was a holiday. It sounds nice, but getting out of the routine in any way is likely to cause stress.

The 7-year-old touched the 10-year old. She hollers a bit. He provokes again. She yells. He bellows. Then she calms down and says something whithering and sarcastic to me. Teenage practice. I tell her not to be so snotty, and she goes back to indignant wailing.

I remind them we have to go to school. Like always. They cheer up and get the dog all excited about walking with us to school, then decide they want to scooter instead. We can’t do both, I cannot manage to get dog and 2 scooters and helmets home. And the dog’s eating his own leash he’s so excited. No scootering today, since we have the fun dog to walk with us!

I might as well have announced that beheadings would begin in 5 minutes. The 7 year old storms off, shouting about how unfair I am and how he doesn’t want to walk the stupid dog. The 10 year old doesn’t want to walk the dog either, until she does, at which point the 7 year old (who’d stopped crying and yelling) realizes his sister gets to walk the dog and it’s no fair he cant. His tears and piercing cries of outrage were loud and clear as we approached the school.

I’ve commented on my children’s screaming fits before, yet I still don’t have a clear handle on how much of it is “normal” (in that all kids do it), and how much of it is their trauma. It might not matter, except that when there’s so much yelling, and in the trampled-down aftermath of it, I think, are we in trouble here? Is something hugely awry that needs healing?

It definitely feels like a trauma for me. At least in memory, my childhood was quieter. We might have been seething and repressed, but I don’t remember much yelling by anybody. That was probably our problem, and might be why I feel so unprepared for these pure, desperate expressions of tortured angst.

As the afternoon ticks away and I think about it, the one sure solace of a cry-it-out scream-a-thon morning is that today when I pick them up, they’re quite likely to be chipper and excited about their day. Nothing lingers with them from the outbursts. Maybe that’s what I need to learn.