Monday, February 11, 2013

There Was A Meltdown

He and I sat at the cafe and chatted.  His education, his career, Elizibeth's 15th birthday breakfast all vied for attention as our mouths moved but our minds were elsewhere.. the same where... where was she?

We'd made the appointment and entered it into our calendars at the same time on Wednesday afternoon. She's often delayed a few minutes, but never for long without calling.... without answering her phone... without letting us know that she'll be late.

She'd never miss a meeting.  Of that, we were certain.

But, the time came and went and the doors had to be unlocked so we toted our trash and trekked through the lot and up the stairs, after arguing with the unlocking mechanism until it was set, just so. The students began arriving, I adjusted my achy hip to a new environment, and then he was on the phone, listening, nodding, smiling, looking at me.

"She's going to call you, right now," he said as her face appeared on my screen.  And I answered and I listened and I smiled and I nodded as she told me that there had been a meltdown, that she couldn't leave her tween, and that she was sorry, so very sorry.  Reassuring words about parenthood taking priority over everything else poured from my mouth to her ear, as my heart raced back to when I'd been the one making similar calls.

Twelve is really hard, thirteen isn't much better, and, while fourteen has its moments, it's still braces and growth spurts and zits and insecurities thrashing around inside a body which is suddenly unfamiliar to its occupant... and those around her.

It's easy to lash out at the people you know will still love you in the end, which is why, in hindsight, I was so mean to G'ma and Little Cuter couldn't tolerate me.  "She's bothered by the fact that you are alive and breathing on the planet at the same time that she is, and since you can't change that fact, you just have to suck it up and have courage," was TBG's sage advice, advice which sent me to my closet on a regular basis.  There, with the door closed and my mouth buried in piles of sweaters, I'd yell "COURAGE!" to myself, over and over again, until I thought it was safe to come out.

I was putting myself in time-out.  As I'd told the kids while carting them off to a similar fate, sometimes it's good to take a moment to get yourself back on track.

Tactics are useful, but watching the meltdown as it happens is painful.  Knowing that others have been there before is of little use while the tears are streaming and the tempers are flaring and the solutions are unobtainable.

Perhaps it's a karmic resolution.  I remember G'ma's response to an email I'd sent, describing some act of terrorism associated with my darling middle-school daughter.  I'm sure I was looking for advice, for comfort, for succor.  I got none of it.  I will quote her reply in its entirety:
I remember when my 9th grade boyfriend asked someone else to the dance.  NO, I was not going to share the facts with G'ma.  NO, I would not tell her what was wrong.  NO ONE had ever been in my situation before, of that I was certain.  NO ONE knew my pain.  There was NO hope.

It's such an awful peak of growing up on which our kids get stuck.  We know they'll find the other side.  We know there's not much we can do to smooth their passage.  It's a shame when the meltdowns interfere with our lives, but we know that we have no choice.

And, we know that someday, perhaps, we'll get to send a smug and snarky response to the older incarnation of the puddle on the floor when she shares her own tale of parenting woe.


  1. Uggghh! I'm dreading this! My 11 year-old is starting to go through the meltdowns. Hers is somewhat related to meds. She takes ADD medicine and when she comes off of it, she's quite emotional. She screams, "I hate you!" and then she comes back after she gets herself under control and says, "I'm sorry mom". It really hurts when they say that, but I try to not let it get to me because I know it's not how she really feels, it's how she feels at that moment.

    My second daughter (8), is so much like my husband, it scares me. She will have a meltdown and then she's totally happy. We joke that her head is going to spin around. She goes that far off the reservation, but she always comes back pretty quickly.

    If my girls behavior is any indication of how being a teenager is going to be, I'm dreading it.

    Happy Monday!

    Megan xxx

  2. WHOA!!!! That hit home like a brick! Mel and I fought for 2 years. Big Bob just stayed in bed until we left for school/work every day. Now we are very close and talk to each other at least once a day. It's probably good that she has

    1. Hence, Little Cuter's plan to follow in her footsteps. I wouldn't trade her for the world... tho I'd rather not revisit those years again :)

  3. Love it...our daughter is seeing this with her second child, a tempermental little boy who is much like she was as a toddler. The first child, a well behaved little girl gave me no revenge, but now I am feeling that kharma of which you write.

    1. And The Burrow is where you can come to share your delight :) It's a safe place to say :I told you so!!!!


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