I should have seen it coming. The faintest taste of it was in the air, like smoke before a fire.
The Mother of All Meltdowns.
It all began with a biological imperative to escape the confines of my house in an effort to not strangle my children. The Tackler had skipped his nap thanks to The Cough and Lil Diva had transformed into a 1 year old version of the Face Hugger from Alien(s) and still wasn’t satisfied. The constant whine intermingled with dramatic crying fed the remnants of yesterday’s migraine like lighter fluid poured on a campfire.
I packed the Anything We Could Possibly Need Bag as quickly as I could, hoping to end my excursion by meeting up with CG at a restaurant that actually sounded good.
We headed off to the first location: Toys R Us.
I know, it’s a dangerous place ripe for potential meltdowns, but I had An Agenda. We were going to get diapers and a Chuggington train. The Tackler had almost been accident free (while awake) for an entire week (insert dance of joy HERE), and I’d promised him Action Chugger as a reward.
Flashback to two weeks ago
During Mimi’s visit, we visited Toys R Us so Mimi could search for a present for Lil Diva’s birthday. While we were there, The Tackler happened upon the end of an aisle that had ALL of the Chuggington Trains – his current category of Toys I MUST Have. These are trains never previously seen in a store, and I have only found online (at outrageous prices).
Mimi informed him since he was such a good boy, he could pick out ONE train and he could open it after he did his next deposit in the potty.
Such a dilemma, with so many never-seen-before trains within his grasp. He finally decided upon Puffer Pete, but told us, “If I go poop in the potty again, I can get Action Chugger.”
“If you keep your underwear dry for one whole week, we can come back and get Action Chugger,” I informed him.
He was ecstatic, and clutched the Puffer Pete tightly in his hand as we continued on in search of the birthday girl’s gift.
Mimi never found what she was looking for, so I wandered off to see if diapers were on sale and she took Tackler to check out.
From fives aisles away, the screech of him in Full Meltdown Mode hit me.
It was LOUD.
What the heck happened? I wondered as I raced to the front of the door with Lil Diva and the cart.
There was The Tackler, still in his cart, tears and snot running down his bright red face as though he’d had a round of shots, and had bully shove him to the ground and snatch his favorite toy away.
It was just the latter.
Toys R Us had totally FUBARed.
They had mistakenly put out the Chuggington toys before they were allowed to sell them on October 1st and the toy wouldn’t ring up at the register. A manager was called who then Took The Toy Away From Him and told him he couldn’t have it back.
Began meltdown HERE.
Anyone who has had a child, baby-sat a child, spent more than an hour in a child’s company has learned the golden rule: If you tell a child they can have something or do something, you DO NOT back out on this unless they misbehave. The expectation is set, and obliterating this expectation will cause a meltdown to ensue.
While my son was full into the throes of a meltdown, my mother stood there and asked the manager, “How are you going to fix this? I said he could pick out one toy, and he did. A toy YOU PUT OUT. You messed up. You need to fix this.” She made no move to comfort or talk him out of the toy as the line behind her got longer and longer. She turned to the impatient adults behind her. “They’re telling us we can’t buy the one toy he picked out because they screwed up and put it on display too early.”
The manager tried to talk my mother out of her purchase.
She obviously didn’t know how stubborn females are in my family.
I arrived to the scene as the manager finally capitulated and sold the toy to us, my son quieting into hiccuping sobs when the manager finally gave him the toy back.
Which didn’t leave his hands for most of the night, fearful that it would somehow be snatched away again.
Flashback to The Present
It was now October 5th (four days after I was told the trains would be available) and I figured there was no harm in following up and getting the Action Chugger train on hand for when the Week With Zero Accidents was completed.
The diapers I found no problem.
But low and behold, the trains were missing from the shelves.
I hunted down an employee and they told me the Chuggington trains aren’t for sale until October 10th.
This time, at least, they aren’t out for us to see.
I explained to a very upset boy that the trains wouldn’t be here for another five days.
There was a little whining. Some sniffles. He really had his heart set on getting one right then. But he accepted the trains were not there and we would come back again when they were.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
We left the store without incident and got into the car.
“I want to go home,” he said. “I want to play with my trains.”
“We’re going to the room store now to look at beds, sweetie. Then we’re going to eat dinner with Daddy.”
Enter The Meltdown.
Whether it was pent up frustration from the store, the lack of nap, hunger, or a combination of all three, he let it loose.
“Bahiwanagotadabooksto.” Translated to “But I want to go to the bookstore.”
A small change of location requested.
“We are going to go there, but after the room store.”
The Meltdown got worse.
And me, in my infinite wisdom (read: stupidity), decided I Am The Parent. I am not going to alter our plans for the night just because he’s upset.
I go to the Room Store, which is just across the parking lot.
He screamed as if I was torturing him.
He wouldn’t leave the car, he wouldn’t walk in the store, he didn’t want to stay in the store, he wanted to leave the store via the wrong exit, and when we finally left the store after my brief five minute perusal (it took longer to get him inside), he collapsed into a screeching heap because I dared go down the ramp and not the steps because I had the stroller.
Anyone who saw us during this time, gave us The Look.
The What-the-Hell-Do-You-Think-You’re-Doing-Don’t-You-Know-Your-Child-Is-Screaming-WHY-Aren’t-You-Doing-Something-About-This Look.
As any parent knows, when a child is like this, there really isn’t anything you can do until they get it out of their system. The one thing that could possibly end it instantly required me to sneak into the storerooms at Toys R Us and steal the train promised.
That wasn’t going to happen.
Luckily, I didn’t have to carry him around in full meltdown mode. He stayed within 20 feet of me at all times, just lurching around as though ankle chains held him back and occasionally melting onto the floor, refusing to move until I distanced myself the far enough that he knew I was no longer paying him attention.
Returning to the van was no small feat. The pace was so slow, Lil Diva decided it was time to stand and try to climb out of her stroller while I attempted to get Mr. Meltdown to hold my hand across the parking lot.
Anyone driving by bestowed more of The Look upon me.
We got back into the car and as soon as he’s buckled in, the meltdown ceased.
Like the eye of a hurricane.
I explained that now we can’t eat dinner out (which I’m really disappointed about) and there will be no bookstore because he screamed and cried and had bad manners in the room store.
He took the news surprisingly well. Which is to say, the meltdown remained in remission.
Pressing my luck, I swung into the grocery store lot on the way home, because there were a few things we needed.
At first he protested.
“I need to buy some crackers.” Ironically, it was the true reason….. I wanted tomato soup and I had to have crackers with it or it’s just wrong.
He quieted. Calmed down.
We shopped without incident until the Diva’s Cranky Meter ratcheted from Mellow to Get Me Out of This Shopping Cart Now in about 4.3 seconds.
As if my children played a game of Meltdown Tag Team and had traded who was now It.
Granted, she hasn’t learned the full on art of a true meltdown, but she does know how to use her lungs to their utmost capacity and to succeed in displaying her displeasure over something.
And no matter what I did, those lungs refused to cease. She had hit I’m Tired, Cranky, and Hungry, but Mostly Hungry Mode and until food was produced, there was no stopping it.
I prayed to the stop light gods to be kind as we hurried home to CG and food.
And finally, I hit my breaking point.
I called CG from the driveway. “Help. Please!” I shouted over my daughter’s screams of displeasure. Because traveling the extra twenty feet inside was suddenly too much.
CG had picked up food on the way home, forewarned of The Meltdowns.
And finally, there was quiet.
For a little while.
Because really, when your son coughs so much during nap time that he can’t nap, and your daughter could go down for one but if you let her she won’t go to bed until 11 PM…
Well, it means your night will just be The Night of Meltdowns.