Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Once Upon a Meltdown

Once upon a time, when Dreamer was at pre-school, Curly was just a bump, and Speedy was three, we moved house.
We moved into a nice old house, in a nice old suburb, with nice old neighbours.

At the time, we were stumbling through this parenting business. Speedy did meltdowns. Big, loud, long meltdowns.

We were also just discovering that whatever the parenting books said, the opposite worked best for Speedy. If I tried to hug him close to calm him, he'd escalate, and escalate, and escalate until I let him go. Only then would he begin to calm down. We'd joke that he sounded like he was being murdered. There were more than a few days where I would find myself sitting on Speedy's bed, hugging him, while he screamed "Stop, stop, let me go, let me go".

We never thought about what the neighbours were hearing.

One day, DH (he-who-will-get-a-nickname-when-I-think-of-one) was in the garden, watering the plants with the hose, when he got chatting over the fence with the neighbour. Speedy and I came out to chat too. It was all very neighbourly until Speedy asked if he could water the garden. He didn't want help. He wanted to do it all by himself.

Picturing a three-year-old aiming the hose up, down, through the window, and all over the neighbour, and being in the middle of a conversation, DH said the magic word. "No".

And it started.

Speedy stood there and screamed. And cried. And howled like he was being beaten. It was an Oscar winner.

The neighbour watched with a look of horror on his face.

Then he spoke. "Is that all it takes?" he asked, in a stunned kind of way. "To make him scream like that?"
"Yep" I replied, with a tired, watery grin.

It was only afterwards that it dawned on us how close we'd come to having the neighbour report us for child abuse.

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