This Memorial Day marked the first year the kids really understood why we were visiting the cemetery and leaving flowers. We were able to share a little about their great grandparents. And talk about how it’s not the end, but because we have Jesus we will see each other again in heaven. It was really nice!
It was also ended up being a really good reminder about the importance of staying connected with each child, and pacing their day when you have more than one activity.
Along with going to the cemetery, we invited a few family members to come to over in the afternoon. The kids were especially looking forward to seeing Rob’s parents Grandma and Papa. They don’t get to see them as often as they get to see my mom, Nana. But, Grandma and Papa wouldn’t get to our house until later in the afternoon.
In between getting home from the cemetery, and the get together, I took a nap, and at some point Jenni climbed into bed with me. Rob and Will played video games. Something they enjoy doing together.
Well, our first sign a meltdown was coming was that Will got upset when it was time to turn off the video games. At six years old, he doesn’t do much of that anymore. But, Rob just thought he probably got a little over stimulated with playing video games for two hours.
Shortly after that, the doorbell rang, and the kids were certain it was going to be Grandma and Papa. It wasn’t, it was Nana, and Auntie Ri-Ri. Both kids were visibly disappointed. (Nothing personal against Nana and Auntie). Will got a little upset, but we reminded him that Grandma and Papa were coming. Our second sign a meltdown is coming.
Fast forward about an hour, and we’re sitting at the kitchen table, Will has out two Pokemon cards he got from a birthday party, and he wants to play with Jenni, who also has cards. She doesn’t want to play. He gets upset and starts crying. Meltdown beginning.
Truth be told, Rob and I weren’t really paying attention. We’ve got family over, we’re just trying to relax and talk. So, all we do when this happens is try to mitigate the problem. So, we tell Will if Jenni doesn’t want to play, do something else. So he gets out his new travel board game. But, again, he want Jenni to play with him. She doesn’t want to. Again, he gets upset.
We’re now in a meltdown, but Rob and I are still just trying to mitigate the problem so we can keep talking. So, we say, okay, Jenni doesn’t have to play, we adults will play with you. But now, Will is in, “Nothing Will Satisfy Me” mode. You may know this one: Whatever solution you offer they say no to, but then they want to do the last thing they said no to, so you say okay we’ll do that, and then they say no again. That’s where we’re at.
I decide to make a command decision and say we aren’t playing either game, we’re going to play Monopoly. Well, screaming and wailing begins. So, my mom and sister offer to leave thinking maybe Will needs some rest, and my mom recognized that he might be upset because Grandma and Papa weren’t there yet. (She was right) I thought maybe that was a good idea because, honestly, it’s not fun for anyone when a child is having a meltdown. It’s an ugly sight.
Fortunately, Rob reminds us that it’s not that big of a deal. Will will get past this. Yet, we’re still trying to help Will feel better at the table, which is getting us no where. I finally remember something I’ve read in the book “Peaceful Parent Happy Kids.” They only thing you can do when a child is in a full meltdown is help him feel safe while he get whatever is bothering him out through tears.
So, I tell Will daddy is going to have to carry him up to his room upside down so he can have some quiet to finish being upset. Of course, it’s hard not to laugh when you’re being carried upside down. But, since Will is in a full-blown melt down, laughter isn’t really going to work just yet.
Rob carries Will to his room upside down, plops him on the bed, and rough houses him a bit. But, again, we’re too far into a meltdown for Will to discharge his upset with laughter anymore. So, we lay next to Will on his bed while he is literally kicking and waving his arms in the air while still wailing. We just said, we’re here for you Will, we love you, it’s okay to let it out.
After a few minutes, Rob says, are you upset with us? Will says: “Yes, you told me that Grandma and Papa were going to be here soon, it’s been a long time, and they aren’t here yet. You didn’t tell me the truth.” (We didn’t actually say that. We told him G&P would be late getting to the house, but this isn’t the time to be right.) So, we just said, we’re sorry. And then Rob checked with G&P to see when they were actually arriving.
Moments later, I have to leave the room to help Jenni because she’s screaming and crying downstairs. (When it rains it pours!) When I get back to Will’s room, he and Rob are under the covers, so I pretend I’m a ghost, and tickle them, and get a little laughter. That’s a good sign we’re almost to the other side of the meltdown. About 15 minutes later Will is back to his usual pleasant self.
He was able to play, and dance, and laugh again with all of us — even Jenni. We even played that travel boardgame. And, Grandma and Papa did eventually arrive, and more fun was had.
Bravo to my mom and sister for toughing it out and staying. (I think they started playing Monopoly while they waited.) I know it was terribly uncomfortable. The next day they both said it had been such a long time since they’d seen Will meltdown like that, that it was quite upsetting. He is our easy-going kiddo. They also said it was good to see him come through it and be fine again. (I’m glad they stayed and saw that part too!)
Rob and I were reminded of how critical it is to pace a child’s day when there is more than one scheduled activity, and make it a point to reconnect, and decompress in between activities. Likewise, it’s important to pay attention to clues that a meltdown is coming, so we can head it off while the child is still able to laugh out his upset. When we have two or more activities outside the house, we usually do that. But, since one was at home, and didn’t seem like a big deal, we just overlooked it.
I’ve heard it said that lessons learned in adversity are the best remembered. I won’t be forgetting this one anytime soon.
Here’s to a difficult and productive Memorial Day!