Today was a usual Thursday, one of our favourite days of the week because it’s Playgroup day. Not only is it a great opportunity for Elliott to have a play but it’s also a great opportunity for me to fit in some much-needed adult conversations with the Mums.
Playgroup went well, Elliott had a great time as usual and was a happy little chappy when we got in the car. I’d usually go straight home for him to have lunch before his sleep but I had to quickly duck into the shopping centre to pick up some stamps from the post office and then go to the bank to deposit some money.
We got as far as the stamps and then it all went downhill.
Outside the Post Office there is a merry go round which takes $2 coins. Elliott kept pointing at it and wanted to go on, so I let him (without putting any money in). He kept pointing to the coin slot persistently, not taking no for an answer. I still hadn’t gone to the bank. I waited patiently and let him sit there, constantly saying that I didn’t have any money to put into the merry go round.
After chasing him around the merry go round, I finally got a hold of him, picked him up and walked towards the bank. Well, there was no way on earth I was going to take this screaming child into the quiet bank, so I sat on the bench hoping he’d settle down. He got out of my embrace and ran over to the merry go round again.
And then I went through the whole process of saying no again and this time explaining that the merry go round was broken. No matter what I said, nothing was going to make him happy, but I wasn’t going to cave in and put the money in the machine. I’m was getting quite agitated but focused on keeping calm and I just stood and waited.
I ended up foregoing the bank visit, picked up Elliott and carried him to the car. This is when the tantrum started which then quickly escalated into an extreme meltdown, unlike any meltdown I’d ever seen him have.
He screamed, he cried, he tried jumping out of my arms, he kept hitting me in the face and then would lie on the dirty car park floor next to the car.
I picked him up and tried putting him in his car seat to no avail. He was arching his back, kicking and hitting so much that it was impossible. I tried again, but his resistance was too strong and I didn’t want to hurt him. He jumped out of his seat and lay on the floor of the car.
I went around to the other side to hug him but he moved to the other side of the car. I tried to console him and hug him but he would keep hitting me, screaming and crying, tears rolling down his face. All this over a merry go round?
Twenty minutes had passed and he still wouldn’t let me put him in the seat, I did lose it at one point, I snapped because of the stress that had built up over the 20 minutes. I realised what I had done and I tried to hug him but it didn’t work, the hitting still continued and none of my handling of his behaviour was working, I’d say, ‘that hurts Mummy’ or ‘we don’t hit’ or ‘that’s naughty’, but it just wasn’t helping. I was starting to get worried and concerned for him, I’d never seen a meltdown so intense before and over such a little thing. He was distraught.
Finally, with a lot of effort, I got him into his car seat so we could go home. It continued when we got home, on the garage floor, once we were up in the kitchen he escaped through the pet door and went down the stairs to under the house where he lay in a long cardboard box. I tried consoling him and telling him it’s ok, I managed to pick him up to take him upstairs. It still continued.
At this point, the meltdown had gone on for 45 minutes and he was still crying, sobbing, tears rolling and he was very sweaty and had truly worn himself out.
It was during the last 15 minutes that he finally let me cuddle him and rock him. I told him everything was OK, that I loved him and I started singing to him to settle him. He finally relaxed his body, put his head on my shoulder and fell asleep. I put him down in his bed, covered him with a sheet and gave him is blankey toy. It was over and he was peaceful.
There are normal tantrums and there are meltdowns and this was the king of meltdowns.
I don’t know whether to worry or just take this as a one off and accept it as an aspect of a toddler’s mind who still cannot talk and communicate properly yet. I just wish sometimes that I could help him more and understand what it is he wants or how he feels. I think the whole communication barrier is one of the toughest parts of being a parent (and probably a child).
Have you experienced any major meltdowns like this one with your children? How did it make you feel?
Image by Prawny on morguefile.com