Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The mother of all meltdowns

What's the only thing worse than your child having the mother of all meltdowns?  His mother having one too.  Enter the terrible *ahem* terrific twos.  The Griner, as he's affectionately and sometimes not-so-affectionately known around these parts, is back among us.  All hell bent on making 2011 the year of socialization, I enrolled him in a music class as well as a play group that fosters independence by letting the caregiver 'disappear' for part of the session.  The perfect antidote, said I, to the stay-at-home preschooler afflicted with separation anxiety.  Recently it had gotten to the point some nights whereby my son will cry for 'mommy' when he is going to have his bath (with daddy, I might add).  I can be in the next room, but if I'm not in the bathroom with him, look out. Still, it's not the separation anxiety that I mind so much; frankly, it's nice to feel wanted.  And along with it comes a lot of affection, 'pucker ups' and mommy-love. No complaints there. However...

Socialization is a hard nut
I'm told it's 'a phase' and that 'it too shall pass', but my LGO still cracks when there are loud noises, when other children invade his personal space. (Seriously, and here I thought personal space was something that only came about after you'd worked with the office lech).  But today, throughout his play group -- where, for the record, no one shoved him or so much as grabbed a toy from him -- he just freaked.  Whined, screamed, threw things.  Generally didn't want to be there, and no wonder:  what a hellhole it was, with so many of his little munchkins friends happily ensconced in crafts, songs, stories, and all around kid FUN.  So why couldn't my munchkin get stuck in?  Why couldn't he just enjoy himself like the others? 

I'm not a conformist, usually
But when it comes to your child, you want so desperately for them to blend.  Now, I haven't had him tested yet because he's so articulate and bright in many respects, but what if there genuinely is something wrong? I don't think there is.  I don't want to think there is.  But I also can't find any earthly explanation for this perplexing behaviour of his.  Has anyone else out there encountered a Griner?  Is this really typical of 2yos?  From what I've seen, not quite.  They all have their foibles, for sure.  And I hate to keep up with the Joneses.  Yet as mothers, we can't quite help ourselves, can we?  Isn't it always the way that when your child seems at his most demonic, others seem at their most angelic?  And they will tell you, 'Oh, they all have their moments;' it's just that you don't remember ever seeing any of theirs even come close to what you've been dealing with for, well, always.  Even at snack time (a perennial favourite of my tot's) the Griner was still at it. 

Then.  I lost it
I couldn't help the tears, the pent-up frustration that was like a dam breaking the levee.  I took a deep breath, but it was like once I started I couldn't stop.  All that trying to be such a great mother.  And that added salt to the wound because here I am, writing publicly about what it means to be a great mother and about all things mothering... And here I couldn't get my shit together.  And my kid had turned into a Tasmanian devil.  All the friendly words meant nothing.  They fell on deaf ears, for when your kid acts up, you're on your own raft, mate.  You are that shipwrecked Tom Hanks kind of alone. 

And it feels like...
No other kid in the history of the world acted up like yours, ever. And that rare golden moment when your child dons his halo (like no other kid in the history of the world, of course), oh, don't you just lap it up?  Smug as anything.  So today I'm having a devil day, but hopefully tomorrow will bring with it a halo.  Then I can forget and lap up all that golden cherubness and tell some other poor mam that 'we all go through it'.  Not that she'd believe me for a second.


  1. Yes, this DOES happen to everyone. And anyone who says differently is a liar!

    Lemme tell you about child #1. He has always been incredibly social. Even as a baby. So when he was about 3, I signed him up for a gymnastics class with two of his friends. Imagine my...surprise when MY child clung to me and SCREAMED the entire time. All the other kids were having a great time while my kid clung and shrieked and wailed.

    It was awful. I was mortified. And I wondered what was wrong with him. And what was wrong with ME.

    And with him, it was a phase. He still has anxiety about new things, but not anywhere near that (he's 7 now).

    But - I would ask your pediatrician anyway. If s/he is not concerned, then there's peace of mind for you. If s/he is concerned, then you can do testing.

    You are not alone!

  2. Ada was whimpering and running away from the blender yesterday :)
    I loved this post. So heartfelt!

  3. Thank you thank you thank you, Cheryl! It does help to hear about your experiences (which echoes my own). I just wish I wasn't such a perfectionist and control freak and that as moms we could let the mask slip a little more often, rather than acting like we really have our shit together and know what we're doing!