Sometimes the meltdowns last so long I want to give up. I’m sure you can imagine that after 30 minutes of incessant screaming and crying and hitting and kicking would make you fade, too. It’s hard to watch. It’s hard to stand back and let it happen. It’s hard not to get angry and upset with her. And I’ll be honest… I don’t always follow through with grace and love.
I made the mistake of asking Lucy to change her shirt before bed, trying to persuade her to wear a new shirt. New clothes are HARD for Lucy. For the past two years, we’ve struggled through 90% of wardrobe changes, especially when seasons change.
At first she just said, “No.” But I persisted, encouraging the new shirt, specifically purchased because it was blue and a soft cotton. When she started crying, I “made a deal” with her. I don’t remember what it was… probably a cookie or extra books at bedtime. I didn’t really care, to be honest. I just wanted her to change her damn shirt so there wouldn’t be a scream-fest in the morning.
Twenty-seven minutes went by of crying, screaming, kicking the walls, throwing books and stuffed animals off the bed. I had given up on the shirt, but I couldn’t even calm her down to do our bedtime routine. I did everything I could think of… rubbed her feet and legs, rocked her vigorously back and forth and finally– FINALLY– I could feel her body calming.
“Lucy, I’m sorry that’s so hard for you,” I whisper. I gently kissed her on the right cheek and she nailed me in the shoulder. The screaming began again and I begged her to breathe. Through her cries I heard, “Kissing hurts! That hurts! You don’t hurt Lucy!”
“Okay! Okay! I’m sorry, honey.”
“YOU ARE.NOT.SORRY! KISSING HURTS, MOM!”
Her poor, sensitive body in the midst of a meltdown can’t stand touch or loud noises or people looking or speaking to her. And I know that. I know what I’m supposed to do. I can’t scream. I can’t leave the room. I can’t touch her unless she initiates it. I have to I whisper and stay completely calm.
I know exactly what I’m supposed to do. And sometimes I don’t do it.
Sometimes I think I’m just yearning to have a child without these issues, wishing that simple things didn’t have to be so hard for her… and me. Sometimes, maybe, I’m just frustrated that these issues seem so ridiculous. Sometimes I’m just tired and crabby and dealing with my own stuff so I have nothing left to give.
Sometimes I just need to kiss her and hold her. I want to console her in the way that feels right to me when I know well enough that it doesn’t feel right to her.
I watched her chest begin to rise slowly and her meltdown drift away. Once she felt better, she whispered, “Read a book now.” By now, we’d wasted the last 40 minutes on the floor of her bedroom. “I’m sorry, Lucy, but you spent all this time crying and we have to go to bed now.” I promised I’d read her a short book, which broke our usual bedtime routine, but she was fine with the change.
“I’m sorry, Mom.”
“I’m sorry, too, Luc.”
And just like that, she was softly sleeping, holding Eeyore in one arm and me in the other. So I kissed her on the cheek twice.
Oh, my sweet.