My daughter hulks out. Seriously. Clothes get ripped. She grows about 500 times stronger than usual. Her face contorts into a scary, ugly mask of rage. She attacks anyone and everyone standing in her way. She doesn’t recognize her native language and speaks in grunts and one word answers. I’m pretty sure she even turned green on one occasion.
And when she hulks out (or flips, as we generally call it in our household), it becomes difficult to remember that she’s really just my little KBear. In fact, most of the time I start wondering if the real her is the hulk her and those other glimpses of a human child are an illusion. I become discouraged and angry, and often end up hulking out myself – though with a bit more self-restraint than K-Hulk is capable of. I begin to think that she’s trying to be defiant, that she is simply a brat, that I somehow just need to be more authoritative, demanding, louder, angrier, and she’ll snap into shape.
Except, that approach didn’t ever work to turn Hulk back into Banner. And it never works to turn KBear back to her normal self. And here’s why. Because Hulk can’t think straight when he’s Hulking out and neither can my KBear.
Jon had been fooling around, taking some pictures of the kids one day. After the impromptu photo shoot, he and the 3 kids were gathered around looking through the pictures. There was a series of oddly exposed shots and Jon was generally deleting them pretty quickly. When he came to this one, he had his finger on the trash button when KBear shouted, “Wait! Stop!”
Unsure what the deal was, Jon just looked at her quizzically, until KBear said, “That’s me. That’s what it feels like when I flip.”
Jon looked back at the picture and gave KBear a hug.
On the outside, we see a giant monster of rage and destruction. On the inside, KBear feels like that monster is also attacking her. She feels like she has 3 heads all pulling her in 500 different directions and she can’t see straight, let alone think straight, let alone choose to behave appropriately. Her neurons are firing like mad, her senses are overloaded and spinning, she’s in a thousand different kinds of pain. Of course she doesn’t listen to me. She can’t even hear me.
On my good days, I can remember that. I can see past the Hulk and have compassion for my baby who’s trapped inside.
But, after a few good days, or a few too many encounters with K-Hulk, or a few too many of my own stressors, all I can see is the green and rageful monster. And I’m back where I started, thinking mean, unhelpful, blaming thoughts. But thankfully, on my best days, I can see past my own Hulk, too, and have compassion for the tired and loving mom who’s trapped inside.