That Meltdown Thing Again

phanuu3 Pictures, Images and PhotosToday 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.

Sizzlers can’t.

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17 Responses to “That Meltdown Thing Again”

  1. Sue Says:

    If it’s any help, that deep attachment to ideas is not unique to Sizzlers. My slow, methodical, logical and orderly minded boy also forms a death grip on pet projects and expectations. So, does that mean attachment to an idea is NOT a Sizzler symptom? Especially since that particular foible is showing up in a completely opposite personality? Or does it mean Sizzlers take certain traits to the extreme while others are more adept and reining them in and that’s what makes them Sizzle? I’m studying personality types, multiple intelligences, attention challenges and trying to come up with a composite personality that “explains” the Sizzler type as part of a research project. Not surprisingly, so far they defy explanation 🙂

    • carolbarnier Says:

      Yeah…I think you’re on to something. While the thoughts in my post are mostly true, there are exceptions. I’m ADHD, but really can let go of a disappointment pretty easily. For those who are not Sizzlers but are capable of hyper focus, my guess is you could consider gifted, obsessive or even Aspergers..just to name a few. 🙂

  2. Alicia Says:

    Thank the Lord! I’m so glad that I’m not the only one with this problem. Just now my Sizzler was about to have a meltdown because he had connected the St. Patrick’s Day (today) with the Celtic Food Night (Friday) our homeschool group is hosting and when faced with the fact that they were not happening on the same day…well, I’m sure you know where this is going.

    Thank you for sharing this insight, Carol. I’ll have to keep these tips in mind.

  3. Lindsey Says:

    I am almost in tears reading this. Even though I know other people go through these things I have always felt so alone especially with the stares (you know the ones in the stores who know how to best discipline your child). My oldest sizzler (also Aspie) was a sight to behold. I laughed at your story about time travel but only because I have been there with things that are that crazy.

  4. amy Says:

    today… after having a new dishwasher for 2 weeks..the old one broke…. DS realized the silverware basket goes in the side..not the front. need i say more..

  5. Michelle Says:

    Thank you for sharing!

  6. Cathy Says:

    Thank you so much Carol for posting this today! It is exactly what I needed to hear. My sizzler son had at least 3 meltdowns today. One over him needing to sew his shamrock on the machine before art class to show it off to his friends. The second over him needing to play wii even though his schoolwork was not completed because his friend at art class “said he could not get past the first level” on a wii game. The third meltdown after he lost his hand sewn felt zebra he had taken to AWANA and it had gotten lost even though he has been told not to take his animals. Thank goodness his daddy found it!

    Oh, and I had only one meltdown today. : ) Thanks for your ministry!

  7. Jodi-Marie Says:

    Thank you so much for all your posts, books, and support! I have a 4 1/2 year old sizzler and meltdowns are more than I can count some days. I forget to find a distraction quick enough most times. Her wonderful brain works so much faster than mine does. My oldest has ADD but adding the H to the mix makes for a different ball game. But one I am finding exciting thanks to your writings. Now-to remember to distract during the next meltdown!

  8. Terri Says:

    I just love your ministry! Wish I’d been able to access it when my oldest son was young and I was dragging him (yes really!) out of a store during a meltdown…or when he melted in the front yard for an hour because I told him superman was a fake (he’d just made an 18 foot jump from a tree with his ‘cape’ on…nothing broken…that time). He’s 31 now, and so calm it’s incredible they’re the same person…and he looks at his 7 year old brother and his eyes get HUGE and I can tell…I’m not having grandkids any time soon. At least this time around I know I’m not alone…thank you so much!

  9. newbuffalomom Says:

    My youngest is most likely an aspie, definitely spirited and without a doubt persistent. As a toddler he would grasp onto an idea and pop out of bed the next morning ready to accomplish it. He *can’t* let go of it. He has gotten into trouble so many times (he’s 10) because once he gets the idea, he must do it- even if it means getting into trouble. I insist that he ask permission before tackling certain things, (like spray painting), but he can’t seem to remember it when that idea grabs him. He is OCD about certain projects. Most of them have to do with fixing broken lawnmowers and equipment. Did I mention that he’s 10?

    • carolbarnier Says:

      Oooooh….I remember the tear apart the lawnmower phase. Man, are you taking me back in time. Get ready…a few years from now it becomes the tear apart the computer phase. My keyboard has never yet recovered. 🙂

  10. Valerie Says:

    Wow, This is such a familiar story! My youngest (nicknamed Taz) can go from just fine to defcon IV in 0.5 seconds flat! I am so thankful to know that I am not alone! And that there is a chance of him surviving to adulthood and being calm!

    Thank you os much!

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