I knew pulling into the parking lot of the school today that it was going to happen. The day before he had whined pulling into the school but I was able to redirect him. Today I wasn’t going to be able to. I could tell the wimper pulling in this time was louder.
I parked in my normal spot and he cried “no”. I held up his mini M&M’s to pick a color tube. I said “red, blue or orange?” as I always do. He cried “no.” He said “do you want to go shopping?” I said “no sweetheart, you have to go to school”
Now in this moment I thought maybe I could just bring him home. Maybe he could just hang with Dad today. This thought came to mind because the alternative was a meltdown.
He continued to scream and kick his feet in his car seat. I knew I couldn’t get out of the car to take him out. Once I got out of the car the whole routine would be ruined.
So I sat there as all the rest of the kids went into the school. Slowly the parking lot emptied.
He was stuck. I kept giving encouraging words. He continued to say “no” and cry.
My husband was on the speaker of the car. He said “just take him in” “Liam you have to go to school” “he can’t do this”
Now I don’t fault my husband for saying this. It is what had to happen. My husband could not see the face I was looking at. I saw confusion, I saw eyes that were scared of whatever feelings were happening at that moment.
I wanted to give Liam silence. I turned down the speaker so we couldn’t hear anything. The car was now quiet. The parking lot no longer had anyone walking in it. He could process whatever was happening.
I saw the tears in his eyes. I saw him looking up at the ceiling just staring.
There was no crying now. Just thoughts in his eyes and a frown on his face. I wanted to tell him how much I love him and it was OK but I stayed silent. I just smiled the most genuine smile. A smile that without words showed him I understand. He smiled back at one point but then went back to his tear soaked staring. It was a mix of emotions I saw all in a blink of the eye.
He looked around for a minute longer. His body started to relax.
Then he said “orange”
I can’t even describe the happiness I felt in that one word.
He had pulled himself out of the meltdown before it happened. Now of course this was a perfect storm. We don’t always have all the stars align this way. This could have been a disaster. He was strapped in his car seat so he couldn’t run, the parking lot was emptied so he was alone with no distraction.
I grabbed his orange M&M tube and got out of the car. I told him how proud I was of him and he got out of the car. He put his backpack on as always and we walked slowly to the school doors.
I drove to work feeling like a super mom. I had done it. I had caught the meltdown before it happened. I connected with him. I read him. I helped him.
I owe it all to patience.
To listening to unspoken words.