Today’s post was going to be something else. I had it ready to be published sitting in my drafts but I decided to write this post instead.
Yesterday, Zoe had a meltdown of an intensity that I hadn’t seen earlier.
We were at the aquarium and were having a pretty good time. All of a sudden, she started getting a bit fussy. We were anyways almost done at the aquarium and decided to head out. But by the time we were out, her fussiness turned into full blown crying. No idea what triggered the crying – she dint want to be carried, screaming if put down and struggling in the stroller ( like twisting and turning kind of struggle – almost trying to break the stroller straps ! )
Honestly, I hadn’t seen her get this fussy ever before and both of us were SO confused about what was happening to her. We tried everything – leaving her down letting her figure out what she wanted to do, letting her crawl on the dirty floor if that appeased her, stepped out in the cold wondering if the fresh air would help, offered something to eat/water/milk, ignored her. The screaming and crying continued. After a few minutes ( minutes that feel like hours when you child is wailing and that too in the middle of a packed aquarium ) – she finally calmed down. We picked her up and started walking towards the car – but wait … the meltdown started again and this time on the street. Mind you – it was also freezing cold.
With my screaming and struggling baby in hand as we hurried to the car, parents walked past us giving us knowing glances. The “we’ve been there – don’t worry about it” smiles. Good – coz I wouldn’t have had the patience of a judgmental eye at that time.
It broke my heart seeing her having a meltdown of this degree and also as much as I hate to admit it, a little frustrated. ( no judgement please! ) And then in those moments – I suddenly broke down. Just like that, without any warning tears started to flow. I sat on a bench on the street and sobbed, while my husband was trying to manage our crying baby. It had been more than an hour of this meltdown and we were so helpless. I am not the one to cry easily so I was surprised that I was affected in this way. Feeling so helpless – unable to understand what was happening to our baby, unable to control the situation, unable to fix it !
Eventually, we made it to the car and she fell asleep right away. May be it was exhaustion, or the runny nose, hunger … we don’t know. As we both sat down at night, trying to asses the episode , laughing over the entire situation and warning each other that this most likely wasn’t the last meltdown! A few things we talked about that – let me share them with you.
// Not letting the frustration out on each other : We were really proud of ourselves that inspite of both of us getting tired, frustrated, upset at the whole situation, we dint snap at each other once. Trust me – it would have been very easy to lose our temper at other in the heat of the moment. But remaining patient, calm and secretly finding humor in the situation helped. This is something my husband and I discuss otherwise as well – about not losing our patience with each other beacuse of something that the baby might be doing. We have been very conscious about it and remind the other on the spot if the baby’s action is causing us to react negatively in any way.
( Also I do not feel proud about having a tiny meltdown myself but I am learning as I go as well – parenting is hard at times ! )
// We did not once think about what people would think : Imagine in addition to being stressed out about what your baby is going through, also worrying about what a million strangers might be thinking. A’int no time for that, sweetheart ! People will always judge, might try to offer unsolicited advice even – ignore !
// Giving space to the child having a meltdown : Instead of trying to reason out with the child when she in the middle of a meltdown, giving them space (but obviously staying close ). Ofcourse, we try to reason with them, offer them everything we think they might be needing – but eventually just let them be !
// One mantra that gives perspective to raising a toddler : At this age, their vocabulary is limited but their mind is overflowing with things they want to share and a whole spectrum of emotions. Hysteria is just one form of communication. Stay calm, listen and show you understand. That’s the key to communication – no matter the age of the opposite party.
As I watched my baby have a sudden meltdown, throw that unexpected tantrum – I had a million things going on in my head. Imagine being in the middle of a packed aquarium with a baby you cant seem to control. I suddenly remembered one of the moms I know who had said that she felt really lucky because her child had turned out so well-behaved that she literally never had to face a tantrum. (okay!#whatever) The reason I decided to share this incident here is because if you are a first time parent or just seeing your child have that meltdown for the 100th time – please know you are not alone. Neither is the child misbehaved and nor are you doing anything wrong. We are all learning on this job called “parenting” – honestly, most days I feel I am not doing enough, often feel like I am failing but atleast I know that I am trying my best.
xx – Neha