Soothing the wild child

tilt shifting lens photography of girl in purple and white hoodie staring at man in white shirt

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Our middle baby “Betty” was the first to ride her two-wheeler.

She’s often the first to make her bed, and regularly clears her plate from the table as well as those of her sisters.

Betty is also the first to transform into a screaming banshee.

She’s only five, so we can’t be too hard on her.

Have any of you had similar experiences?

(With your kids, not your ex-boyfriends. That’s a different column.)

We need your advice on how to deal with a preschooler with a hair-trigger temper who can go from sweetness and light to the dark side in the blink of an eye.

Here’s how it works: The girls wake at 6:45 a.m.

Emmy tiptoes into her big sisters’ room and begins poking someone in the eye or soft underbelly with an icy finger.

“Are you awake?” she says in the world’s loudest whisper.

Her sisters begin to rouse themselves begrudgingly.

That sets off a mad dash for our bedroom. They have to be the first to climb into our bed and stake out choice real estate next to mommy.

Betty, because she often volunteers to sleep in the top bunk, needs time to adjust and get down the ladder.

That puts her at a tremendous disadvantage, like if she was running the 100-metre dash, she’d start 15 seconds after the gun.

Trigger the wailing.

“Noooo! Emmy, it’s all your fault!”

We call to her. We sooth her. We assure her there’s room for her to cuddle with mommy before getting dressed for the day ahead.

It does little to temper her tantrum.

Now, it’s not an everyday experience.

Sometimes, she wakes up and bounds into our room with woodland creatures escorting her, a bluebird on her shoulder and bunnies at her feet as she sings “Zippity-do-da.”

Other days, if we don’t feed her dinner by 4 p.m. she’s wearing a rabbit-fur coat dragging on a long cigarette holder ordering henchmen to “find those puppies!”

We’ve tried hugging her. We’ve sent her to her room. We’ve coddled her and cajoled her.

But once the switch flips, we’re all in trouble.

Always the reasonable one, my wife has struck upon a new strategy: we’ll each spend one-on-one time with our girls.

It seems jealousy and competition — just as much as exercise, sleep and a good diet — have a role in the moods of our three girls.

My wife will carve out time, alone, with each of them as individuals, and I’ll do the same.

First up for me was Betty, whom I took to “Dads and Braids” recently.

The fundraising event was hosted by Loyal Hair at the Prestige Hotel’s Beach House in Kelowna.

For $55, we get 90 minutes of hair-care training, a styling kit, and the confidence to get ready each morning should my wife’s hands suddenly fall off her arms.

Money went to JoeAnna’s House.

The Kelowna General Hospital Foundation is attempting to raise $8 million to build and maintain JoeAnna’s House, a home-away-from-home for families undergoing advanced medical treatment in hospital.

“We wanted to stay close to what JoeAnna’s House is all about, and that’s keeping families together,” said Loyal Wooldridge, owner of Loyal Hair. “This event is such a great way for Dads and their little girls to spend some quality time together one-on-one, have a good

laugh, and hopefully it’s not too painful for either party.”

I took eldest daughter La-la to Dads and Braids three years ago; it’s training I rely on to this day.

Now, when La-la sees me holding the hairbrush she doesn’t run, screaming, from the room.

Let’s just hope that after Sunday, her little sister is so overwhelmed by love, joy and gratitude, that she’ll do a whole lot less shouting, too.