Meltdowns are quite common in our household: mostly from Amélie – though thankfully less since she turned six, it seems – but also from the adult members of the family from time to time! The biggest meltdowns seem to happen when a cherished plan is foiled for some reason and this, of course, is something we all understand; change and disappointment can be harsh realities to learn to live with in this unpredictable world. Now, as this has been an issue for Amélie for some time, we have numerous ways of trying to deal with it… I think it’s important to acknowledge her disappointment, to empathize, and to simply be with her as she feels it. Distraction can sometimes work well too – if it’s subtle enough for her not to notice what’s being done! Making a new plan (collaboratively if possible) that is actually going to work for all parties, and in the particular set of circumstances, is nearly always a good idea. And then there are the times where a line simply gets drawn and, whatever the consequence, we all just have to suck it up!
But, on Monday, a plan for a ‘royal tea party’, complete with fancy invitations secreted in the mail box, was not going to work at the time or in the way pictured by the fertile young imagination. This led to a lot of noise and tears, to a great deal of wasted time and energy, and to crumpled invitations stuffed into a glass of water! During Amélie’s enforced calming down time inside, I gave myself the same treatment (read ‘treat’) outside, and pondered how I might help Amélie learn this important life lesson, that I am still trying to learn myself. So, later on, she and I sat in the garden and watched a tree sway in the summer day’s gentle breeze. We discussed what might happen if the tree’s slender branches determined to stay where they were and just would not budge, however strong the wind. We remembered how, on Saturday morning, my own inflexibility had led to some ‘splintering’, and we imagined how it might have looked – and worked better – if I had instead allowed the winds of circumstance and of others’ personal choices to ‘move’ me. Then, as we laid out the soggy, marbled invites to sun-dry, we made a few stabs at applying the tree’s lesson to this particular day’s happenings… But by that time Amélie was dancing around the lawn showing me how flexible she was, and declaring that this was the only way she would ever be flexible! So, in the interests of learning the lesson myself – and bowing to the necessities of hungry stomachs and lessons learnt in their own good time – I let it go.