Terran (7), on the very last chapter of a book about a mad scientist, getting up because he really would rather be talking to me than in bed and what-does-this-word-mean is his only loophole: “How is mad science difference from regular science?”

Me: “What would you guess, based on the rest of the book?”

Child, defiantly, but tearing up: “Well, if you’re not going to tell me, I guess I will just assume it means the SAME THING!” And he ran off to bed, where he collapsed in tears.

Older child, whispering so as not to hurt his brother’s feelings: “I’m not sure if it’s better if he is honestly that stupid or if he is just a horrible drama queen.”

Me: “Stupid. It’s always better to be stupid than mean, and in the end needless drama is just another kind of cruelty to the people around you.”

I don’t know what to do with this child!

When I told him to brush his teeth, he burst into tears, saying, “So we have to go to bed?!”  He does that EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. Even though every night I tell him that brushing his teeth is what happens after dinner and he still has a host of other things to do before he gets into bed, including a good hour and a half of reading time. Every night!

Tonight I snapped at him. “I didn’t say that! Don’t put words in my mouth!”

He shouted back at me, almost too whiney to make out, “Fine then I’ll just go to bed now!” and ran to his bedroom, crashed on his bed, and started wailing loudly enough that I could hear him all the way across the house in the kitchen.

This afternoon he told me he couldn’t make soup because the last time he made it, it didn’t come out well. Last time he made soup, we had a discussion about what went wrong, and he agreed next time he would try following the directions in order this time. He told me that last time that it hadn’t worked out before because he had put some things in at the wrong time.

But this time, he said, “So I can’t make any dinner and we’ll all just go to bed hungry!” and burst into tears.

Frustrated, I told him, “That is NOT the right conclusion. You’re jumping to horrible conclusions again.”

Bear (10) then came in and reminded him that he’d offered to make the soup with him tonight. (I would also have been happy to help.) I said, “See? That works.”

We all went on with doing other things. Half an hour later, I found Terran whimpering. Asked what was wrong, he said, “None of us will have any dinner.”

I asked why and he said, “Because I can’t make soup!”

I reminded him that Bear offered to make it with him. He said, “But I am supposed to make it!”

Bear reported that Terran told him not to do anything. I said, “It’s completely permissible for Bear to help you if you want help and you knew that because I told you at the time!”

Terran said, “No, you said, ‘that works.'”

I told that is what that means and he replied, “Oh. Bear, could you help me?”

Bear perkily said, “Sure!” and they went off to the kitchen together to cook… until Terran had another meltdown because he couldn’t find the pot he had used last time and it had to be THAT pot or no soup could be made. Not even in the exact-same-size-and-materials pot. He was on the floor wailing about it when I came in, with Bear shouting at him angrily that the other pot would be fine.

“NO IT WON’T!” Terran shouted back.

“YES IT WILL!” I said, and Terran stopped crying and went on cooking.

This sort of constant crying about nothing, the inventing of problems, drives me up the wall like nothing any of my other kids have ever done. It wears me down and by the third or fourth time in a day, which usually occurs before noon, I am ready to scream at him to stop being an idiotic drama queen and look for an motherbucking solution instead. So far I have resisted. But I’m really starting to get worried. IS he being dumb on purpose? Is he looking only for trouble? What is his problem?