The other day I took Molly to the local library for a toddler time session. Anything like this is hit and miss with Molly. She’s not a fan of group activities but I take her to encourage her to mix with other kids. She’s starting school in September and there’s going to be a lot more kids in the class than she’d like. I think it’s important for her to mix as much as she can to try and get used to it.
On a good day at the toddler time session, Molly happily joins in with no hesitation. Afterwards, we play with the toys, get some new books out, and go and eat our packed lunch in the refectory. On a bad day, she becomes agitated easily, refuses to take part, won’t leave my side, and sulks and whines until we go home. Some days she’ll have a tantrum, some days she becomes too overwhelmed with the situation and has a meltdown.
On this particular day, however, she had a MASSIVE meltdown. She seemed agitated and overwhelmed from the minute we walked in the door; we were late which didn’t help. She refused to join in at all and started pulling all the books out as the other kids were trying to join in. When the staff got toys out at the end she was being really selfish, rude to the other kids, and refusing to share. She was having tantrums and running around the library like a headless chicken. I tried calming her down but nothing was working. Then I said something that made her really mad, resulting in the meltdown I had been expecting… “Molly, shall we go for a wee-wee sweetie?”
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I DON’T NEED A WEE!!!!”
That was it. She was so angry and nothing I said or did after that registered. I tried to calm her down, took her to a different part of the library, and encouraged her to sit and eat her lunch. I tried to tell her she didn’t have to go to the toilet if she didn’t need to, but she wasn’t having any of it. People were staring. I’m not one to care about what the Judgy McJudgysons think, but I was aware it was a library and people like quiet, not a banshee-like whirlwind of a threenager disturbing their work or lunch time.
I know some people like to leave their kids to it, to ride it out themselves, but that doesn’t work with Molly. She gets too upset to the point where she starts choking and being sick. I hadn’t managed to calm her down and didn’t want her being sick so I sheepishly ended up marching her out of the library. I needed to go to Sainsbury’s for some milk so I had to brave it and take her with me. It was either brave it, or leave it, meaning there’d be no cups of tea for me, and then I’d be the banshee-like whirlwind losing all kinds of shit.
I had promised my niece, Jessica, some sweets earlier on in the day so I had to honour that and buy her some. Molly was told she wasn’t having any because of her behaviour. I stuck to my word, even though I felt incredibly mean. I considered buying her some sweets in secret, just in case. But, I talked myself out of it because that wouldn’t teach her anything. I bought the sweets and milk then we went home.
When we got home, Molly was ordered to sit down and eat her lunch, without any more fuss. She did, thank God, because I probably would have cried if she didn’t. Then I hated myself for not buying her the sweets because she had a meltdown. I told myself I should have been more understanding.
Some days, I really don’t want school to start in September because I’ll miss spending every day with Molly. But other days I eagerly count down the days! Usually, I handle her tantrums and meltdowns quite well, but his whole episode made me feel like a massive failure of a parent.
I know I can’t change it now but the mum guilt is still there. I should have handled this meltdown better because Molly was struggling to cope with her emotions and needed my help.
How do you handle your child’s meltdowns? Does the mum/dad guilt ever creep up on you?