Meltdowns are exhausting. I thought maybe we had gotten past those after the three-nager years, but alas. At seven and a half, we still have them way more regularly than I would prefer.
Of course, she rarely throws fit in public or in front of friends or family, but saves them for her parents. I totally get that this normal. She must keep it together all day at school and feels safe to let loose at home. But we don’t just have the “After-School Restraint Collapse.” For example, last night we had the “I was bored with UNO and wanted to play a different game but you didn’t let me and I threw a big ol’ throwing things, locking doors, crying meltdown.” In those moments, which feel like hours, there is little we can do to calm her down. Going into talk with her only makes her angrier. So we take away her iPad for the next day. That’s about the only punishment we have to fall back on. And when she was still mad getting ready for bed, I contemplated my actions.
When she got bored playing UNO, could we have just quit and played a different game? Sure. But, instead, I said, “We will not play a different game until we finish this one.” When she quit playing and went upstairs, that settled it. But then she called me up, and I found that she had gotten out Chutes and Ladders, set it all up, and was ready to play with her parents. But I had already said no new game if she quit UNO before it was over. So, I had to be consistent. Arg. I am not good at that and would rather have just gotten on the floor and played with my girl. But I stayed hard. And things blew up from there.
As I lay in her bed waiting for her to finish her bedtime routine, which she did in a huff, I began to get so sad. I hated that Kyle’s birthday ended in a meltdown. I hated that I hadn’t just said, “Let’s play a new game!” I got so sad. Sad I made my daughter so upset. And I began to cry.
She finally was lying beside me as I read from Harry Potter, often choking up on certain words. Eventually, she sat up and looked at me. “Are you crying?” “Yes, baby.” “Why?” “Because I get sad when you are sad.” She said, “Sometimes I get sad when other people are sad, but I don’t cry.” I told her I would have done things differently if I had to do them over again. She held onto my arm and snuggled up to me. I read more Harry Potter until it was time to turn off the light. I scratched her back until she fell asleep.
Meltdowns are exhausting. I think they are made worse when I cause them for no real good reason. I wish I could know when to be chill and when to hold strong to my word. I wish we could re-do yesterday. But we can’t. So I will try to do better. Always trying to do better.
Former international fashion model Rev. Sarah Renfro seeks to boost the body image of young women by educating them on the myths of media and focusing on divine within. She also preaches and teaches about marriage and divorce, motherhood, ministry, and mental illness.