Meltdown – Number Four.
We followed the path from Doctor S Land into Jurassic Park. Max wasn’t tall enough for the rides in this area. However, there was a building that housed a display of [fake] life-sized dino-bones. Hal took Max to look at the fake fossils and I found a private place to nurse Bella. She wasn’t asking for food, but then again, unless she is starving she never does. It was mama-instinct that told me she needed to drink to keep hydrated and to prevent the soon to come hunger pangs.
As we were all leaving the area Max spotted a dinosaur themed toy store. Hal took Bella outside to wait while Max picked out some toys. He proceeded to grab every toy he could reach announcing, “I want this and this and this!“
Knowing I couldn’t buy him the store and that he wouldn’t understand why not, I still attempted to explain to him, “mommy can’t buy you all of these toys… What??? These bones cost 100 bucks??? Mommy isn’t going to buy this for you. Max, we can pick out a few toys but I can’t buy all of these…”
“NOOOOO! I want them ALL!!!!!”
“Um, well, we can sort out what I will buy after you’ve picked out what you want, but I can’t buy them all.”
I went to the cashier and apologized for what I was about to do. She seemed to understand and allowed me to pile toys on the counter, with a very small pile to the right – the toys we were actually going to purchase.
Max could have spent the entire day in this store and felt as if his vacation was complete. As I was paying for the three toys I felt we could afford, Max promptly noticed that ALL of the toys were not being placed into the bag. He started to yell at me that he wanted all of those toys, too (pointing at the $100 box of fake dino-fossils). I looked at the cashier and apologized for my son’s destruction of her displays and told Max, “come on, we are leaving. I have your toys in this bag.”
I started to walk out of the store to meet Hal who I could see playing with Bella. I could hear Bossman behind me demanding more items. As I turned around to witness him plopping onto the floor and bellowing hysterically, I knew it was necessary to bring in the big guns. Hal looked up and responded with a facial expression that let me know he could hear our son. I told him to go get Max. Hal is “the big guns.” I took Bella and Hal went in to retrieve the boy.
We walked far away from the store – Max kicking, punching papa in the face, and screaming, I kid you not… Lola would by EVERYTHING for me that I want!!!!!! She gets me everything!!!! I turned around and said to Max, “well, you are not with Lola. You are with mommy and daddy.” I know there is no reasoning with a pissed-off toddler so left my comment short and to the point.
We all needed to eat, especially Max. As I was paying for some food Hal stood off to the side doing his best to keep a grip on the flailing Bossman. I could see him mentally talking himself out of dumping the boy in a garbage can.
With Bella in the front part of the stroller, sitting up and looking around like a big girl, two small pizzas in the back seat and two waters in my hand, I pushed the stroller towards the picnic table area. There were about eight tables under the pavilion and maybe three of them in the front area were occupied by calmer more pleasant families. As I was walking towards the tables (Max screaming at THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS) I could see the looks on the people’s faces and they looked frightened, very concerned, that we were heading in their direction. I could read it on them, “oh, I hope that family isn’t coming over here.” Yes, we were That Family with the toddler having a melt down… the toddler that everyone but us knew how to handle.
But see… we were handling it. We were ignoring his behavior and allowing him space to express his total dissatisfaction with not being able to get what he wanted. Hal was holding him tightly and not allowing him to run off – which yes, pissed him off but kept him safe. Hal was also calmly talking to him between screams trying to sooth the side of Max’s brain that harbors intellect. Toddlers are still operating in between their front and back brains (reasoning and primitive) and Max’s expression of anger was straight out of the animal world. He was pissed and lashing out to express it. Had we punished him for expressing this very big emotion, and did that every time he had a meltdown, he would begin to suppress the expression of his bigger feelings (and the feeling itself) in order to fit the mold of “well behaved.” Hal and I don’t want that. So, we waited out his temper tantrum and gave him a soft place to land when it was over… half an hour after it started. It was the longest and most intense tantrum I have ever seen him throw. And only the second one in his life that has occurred in public.
Don’t get me wrong, the above explanation of our modus operandi wasn’t on our minds in that moment. Surviving was. Our response to Max was instinctual while simultaneously wishing we were anywhere but there and hating the very job of parenting. But I guess that is how parenting always is in difficult times… you respond to intense situations instinctually based on your intellect.
Anyhoo… I think it was me chowing down on pizza, drinking cold water, and asking if he wanted to eat coupled with Hal’s papa-hugs and calm voice that eventually snapped Max out of his monkey-brain. Oh, and of-course, the sheer grace of Time.
Max finally agreed to water and food. We all looked at the toys that I did buy and then… I did something I’ve never done before… I went back into the store and bought him a couple of the other toys he wanted. I reasoned that he will not get another opportunity to be in a store with that many dinosaur toys again for a long time, he loves all his dino-toys, he plays with all of them, he knows all of their scientific names, and he was done throwing his tantrum… I love this kid so much and wanted to get a couple more [of the cheaper] toys for him. He was pleased as pie.
When I got back from the second round at the store – not without receiving disapproving looks and a judgmental comment from the store employee…
… if I am judged as a parent by anyone, whether its to my husband’s or my own face, I instantly distrust and feel violated by that person. Not because I care about what they are saying [I have faith in my ability to raise my own kids], but it pisses me off that people have the audacity to conclude and rudely express that they know what is best for my children – regarding any issue – my children whom these judging assholes spend NO TIME AT ALL WITH. SO KEEP YOUR INTRUSIVE ROLLING FUCKING EYES TO YOURSELF…
ANYWAY… I know you mama’s know what I’m talking about…
*Breath* Okay, that was a vent.
When I got back from the second round at the store Hal noticed that my cell phone which was tucked away in the diaper bag, was ringing off the hook. He answered it to find a very pissed-off sister who had previously told him she was leaving her house in 20 minutes to meet us at the park, previously… about 2 hours ago. Oops. SIL and her boyfriend had been sitting at a bar drinking, trying to get a hold of us for the past 1 ½ hours.
See, when SIL told Hal that she was leaving in 20 minutes, Max was having Meltdowns Number 2 & 3, in the car, respectively. Upon hanging up the cell, Hal hardly remembered that he had spoken with her because of Max’s demands on our attention. Sheila, did not understand. She was pissed and let both of us know it.
After giving us some gruff over the phone, which we could care less about because we had just dealt with the King of Gruff at his worst, we agreed to meet her at the Spider Man ride. We apologized profusely, again, dumped the kids off with her and her boyfriend, and darted onto the Spider Man ride.
Here is the quick version of the rest of the trip:
It was around 3 pm when we got back to our room. I gave Max a bath and he fell asleep in the tub as I was rubbing him down with soap. Hal and I chilled with Bella as Max napped for the next couple of hours.
We previously made plans with SIL to have dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, around 6pm that night. She was really looking forward to it. We, on the other hand, wanted to stay in bed.
Everything in us wanted to cancel our dinner date but we felt Sheila wouldn’t understand (…besides, we also really wanted a good meal) so we packed up our sleeping children into the Caravan and went out to eat. Max slept until we sat down at the table and Bella slept through the meal.
We said our “see you next month’s,” to SIL and her boyfriend, went back to the hotel, and zonked-out. Thursday morning we left the city of Orlando by 9am – eating our breakfast on the road.
All of this in just three days and two nights.
You know, it was an experience. It wasn’t always easy but overall the trip was worth it. We’ll be better prepared next year and will probably do something different.