Today is my youngest child’s birthday. Yes…a St. Patrick’s Day baby!…which has always left her convinced that the world is actually celebrating her birthday as well.
Never let it be said that THIS child lacks self-esteem.
We’ve yet to tell her about the green beer events. T’would only confuse.
This year, she has been given rein to do much of the planning for today’s birthday activities.
I should have known.
I should have seen the cloud descending.
I should have seen that such a gift of leeway would lead to expectations…which leads to anticipation…which leads to excitement…which then leads to plans that become extremely rigid in the mind of a Sizzler.
When she learned last night at around 11 PM that one part of her plan could not be accommodated, the meltdown process began.
First we went to Def-Con Level II– the tired whine.
“No honey, we still cannot do that.” replies Mom hoping to pull us back from a serious precipice over which we are precariously perched.
Now to Def-Con Level III- tears and pleading and rocking.
“No honey, we still can’t do this thing. And if you don’t get to sleep, you’ll be tired all day tomorrow and you’ll have no fun.” (and Mommy will spend the day banging her head against a wall.)
Now to Def-Con Level IV– knocking on the wall between our bedrooms.
“Mommy…<knock, knock, knock>…Mommy…<knock, knock, knock>…Mommy”
Repeat ad nauseum. (emphasis on the nauseum)
Two and one-half hours would pass before she would go to sleep.
Now I was so aggravated and wound up that three more hours would pass before I would go to sleep.
Can’t Let Go
What is it about these precious kids that makes it so hard to let go of an idea once it has taken hold?
They don’t have the idea; the idea has them.
It’s grip is tenacious.
And loosening them from it is the equivalent of surgery.
It truly pains them.
I think that while on one hand, they can’t let go it, another part of them wants desperately to let go, because they can feel that it owns them– which ends up making their cries come from someplace even deeper, making them all the more pitiable and sad.
Over the years, I kept thinking I would come up with some great method for teaching Sizzlers to let it go.
“Look here my sweet Sizzler. If we do A…then we’d have B? Do you see the problem now? Do you understand why we must jettison this idea? See how sensible that is? Now of course, you can just let go of this painful notion of yours. Feel the release. Fall into the freedom.”
My delusion that I can reason with this child will continue for many hours till I finally realize that sensible just isn’t the issue here. Their attachment to the idea and the pain of its loss isn’t about sense.
In the end, what always seems to work best is to just distract them to something else.
Yep, I know. That’s not earth shattering or even surprising.
It’s just true.
The sooner I can get her mind on something else, especially if I can make her laugh in the process, the better.
And it’s best if that “something else” has something to do once we get there. She needs a new task to grab onto.
Otherwise, she’ll just hop back to the state of misery from whence she came.
I’ve also discovered that this is true with my Sizzler husband, God bless him.
Thankfully, he is slower to latch onto a set of expectations. He has at least learned with the maturity of age to tie his emotional wagon less frequently to expectations, being more selective about just what he’ll invest in.
But in the event that he does take on an expectation, he is just as disappointed and sometimes obsessed by the loss as my younger Sizzler.
He has a very hard time letting go of Plan A when it becomes clear that it won’t happen.
My job as loving spouse is to get him as quickly as possible to Plan B, or C, or maybe even D.
Sizzlers don’t move forward from a loss well.
They move forward from everything ELSE too easily. In fact, it’s hard to keep up with them.
But a major disappointment can take hold like a vise, cementing their feet in the land of misery.
So when the meltdown monster appears at you door (and it will eventually)
don’t spend too much time trying to reason with it. (I once spent hours trying to explain to my sobbing 5 year old son that I couldn’t turn back time. —the price you pay for allowing them to watch Star Trek at a young age.)
Yes…it IS unreasonable.
Yes…they ARE out of control.
Yes…others CAN let it go.
But it doesn’t matter.