"I Don't Know Why"

I should probably consider myself lucky that little Sam has gotten himself to nearly nine months of age without any major assaults from his big brother. But boy, has that all changed. My normally mild-mannered now four-year-old has apparently been posessed by something evil, and he's taking it entirely out on his baby brother.

The first incident happened the day after Noah's fourth birthday. We'd taken him to Chuck E. Cheese the night before (something I'd been trying to avoid for as long as possible, but it was the only place he wanted to go on his birthday, so we gave in!) and he'd gotten a little plastic goody bag filled with a few toys. The day after his birthday he was swinging it around and around his head, and I told him to stop before he hurt himself or his brother. I turned away to go and get Sam's bottle ready, and out of the corner of my eye I saw Noah swing the bag as hard as he could, directly AT Sam's forehead. The crack that echoed through the kitchen when the bag made contact with the baby's head was unlike any sound I've ever heard, and the golf-ball-sized purple bump that immediately rose up on his head was unlike anything I've ever seen. Sam was hysterical, of course, but not even half as hysterical as I was. It was totally unprovoked and totally un-Noah.

I was so angry with Noah that I wanted to shake him (I didn't, of course.) I was literally trembling with rage. I sent him upstairs for an immediate time-out and spent a few minutes calming myself down. By the time I got to him I was composed, but still in total disbelief. I don't know what I was expecting him to say, but he had no explanation that was able to satisfy me - all I could get of him was, "I don't know why."

I wanted the punishment to be harsh. I made him help me round up the three or four birthday presents he'd gotten the night before and put them into a big shopping bag, which we then locked into a big cabinet in the garage. I told him that he didn't get to have any big boy toys until he showed me he could act like a big boy. He screamed and cried over the loss of his presents, of course, but did it teach him anything? I'm not sure. Because a week later, we had a second incident. I was bathing Noah and had Sam in the bathroom with us. He'd pulled himsef up on the side of the tub and was laughing and enjoying watching his big brother in the bath. I thought we were all having a perfectly nice time together, until Noah leaned over, again totally unprovoked, and bit one of Sam's fingers. And we had a repeat of the whole situation: Sam screaming, me raging, Noah crying in time-out and offering up his "I don't know why" defense, and my husband and I in utter disbelief and feeling totally over our heads about how to handle this new insanity.

I instantly went online to Google "aggressive behavior" and "children biting" and got nowhere. So I did what any parent in the situation would probably do - started blaming myself. Was I spending too much time with Sam? Was I giving Noah enough attention? Had I been so stressed out about my recent job loss that it was affecting Noah? Deep down, I knew that it really wasn't any of those things, but I had no one else to blame. I still don't. And I still don't have an answer. All I know is, this is so unbelivably uncharacteristic for Noah, and I just don't know how or what to do about it.

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