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  • Lauren Loos

HELP! The Children are Savages

Updated: Dec 20, 2019

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Until recently I had been blissfully unaware of the epidemic that has been sweeping through schools, kindergartens and daycares all over the world: feral fourth term syndrome.

If you don't know about this bizarre phenomenon, let me explain. At the end of the year — in the fourth term of the school year, to be specific — children suddenly and (seemingly) inexplicably go wild. I don't mean for a moment. And I don't mean that they're just hyped about Santa. They become complete crazed maniacs.

An example: A five year old bit my son at kindy. A five year old! A presumably once sane and relatively in control of his emotions (as much as any five year old can be) child was so frustrated at having to wait his turn to use a bike (when taking turns is a skill that ought to be ingrained by now) that he bit my son. Imagine being that animalistic, overwhelmed by emotion and generally out of control that you resort to biting another human being. (The very fact that I’ve never resorted to biting my children says a lot about how far past the brink this kid had been pushed.)

Go to a park at this time of year, and you will likely witness the savagery first hand. (Better yet, if you don’t have kids, don’t go to a park; avoid parks at all costs. Go somewhere kids aren’t welcome - go to a bar. Is that something people still do? Day drinking? I’m sure that used to be a thing. It sounds like bliss.) At a park you’ll see gangs of 5 year olds with sticks as weapons, ignoring any adult instruction, yelling war cries as their swords clash, utterly unencumbered by the buzzkill of considering unintended consequences, like debris in the eye. My eldest son's penchant for face paint just adds to the unmistakable Lord of the Flies vibe, and the general fear that it strikes in the hearts of adult onlookers.

With this out of control behaviour, it’s so easy as a parent to resort to responding in kind. Frustratedly yelling, threatening, kicking inanimate objects, and running to an adult (or someone more adult-like than oneself) for help with these crazed small humans.

But think about how you feel.

If you’re anything like me, by the time November rolls around, you’re exhausted, and the weather is so foul it’s making everyone cranky and sweaty. I’m tired, work is insanely busy, every moment of every day is full with Christmas parties and end of term break up parties and concerts and carols and shopping and birthday parties (just because it’s Christmas, doesn’t mean the endless stream of children’s birthdays ceases -- apparently people think it’s appropriate to conceive children in March, to hell with the consequences) and a million and one other things that must be done for Christmas or before the end of the year. I love the festive season. But I’m so bloody tired. I just need a holiday.

And so do the kids.

The kids are exhausted too.

Just like us, the kids are tired and over it. They’re getting less sleep because of all the evening events (carols and the like). And they’re suffering from the sugar overdose that goes hand-in-hand with all of these events. And they get dragged around with us, to every event and shopping expedition.

They’re just as bloody tired as what we are.

Except they’re children.

Think about how you are when you’re tired. Your short fuse. Or your tendency to snap. Or maybe how your partner resorts to mono-syllabic responses when they’re tired.

Is it any wonder that, when they’re this tired, children, with a smaller capacity to control or understand or communicate their emotions, go a little insane.

It’s hard when everyone’s tired, but I try my best to have some sympathy for my tiny savages at this time of year. They’ve got it tough. Maybe even as tough as we do, as parents, while we’re dealing with these feral little crazies.

What I’m reading: The Mother-in-Law, Sally Hepworth

I’ve just finished reading The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth. And, boy, what a page-turner!

Lucy and her mother-in-law have never gotten along, despite Lucy’s best efforts with the saintly but cold Diana. And then Diana is found dead with a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals something far more sinister has occurred.

There are twists and turns all throughout. But I never expected that ending.

This is the first book that I’ve read by Australian author Sally Hepworth, and I’ll definitely be going back for more. Buy a copy of The Mother-in-Law here.

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