Last night, my 23-month old daughter had a 3-hour meltdown.
It was surreal. I don’t remember this happening with Bee, but maybe I’ve just blocked it out because it is too discouraging to recall – y’know, one of those things that would have brought the idea of future reproduction to a shrieking halt. Whatever the case, the mother of all meltdowns began at 5pm, and ended at 8, when my little tornado finally ran out of steam.
And in between, it was screaming, wailing, thrashing and crying, punctuated only by the briefest of reprises as Dove was temporarily coaxed out of her meltdown by odd distractions. It pretty much went like this:
Scream. Wail. Thrash out of my arms. Scream to be picked up again. Nuzzle into my neck. Rebuff my soothing caresses. Scream. Wail. Thrash – ooh look! A tiny pumpkin!
And then I finally exhale and think we are over the worst, then Bee comes over and has the gall to touch the tiny pumpkin. Scream. Wail. Thrash. Repeat for 3 hours.
I was not frustrated by this episode. I didn’t care that my dinner was sitting cold, abandoned on my plate, virtually untouched, or that I had hoped to finish refurbishing the little chair I’ve been working on for the girls. I just felt bad that something was bothering Dove, and I did not seem to have the cure. My magic words of comfort were rendered mostly impotent, and I was out of wine. I had no choice but to wait it out, and to be available.
I asked her if something was bothering her. She said yes. I asked if it was her tummy. She said yes. I touched her soft belly. Does it hurt here? I asked. She said yes. I touched her side. Does it hurt here? I asked. She said yes. Do your toes hurt? I asked. She said yes. Does your nose hurt? I asked. She said yes. Does it feel better now? I asked. She said yes. My spidey senses told me that I should probably look for a new trigger.
Eventually, after 3 hours of nursing and cuddling and walking and jiggling and engaging, Dove calmed down. I believe the storm ended when her older sister suggested that they read a new library book for their bedtime story (I was not anticipating our usual calm bedtime routine). Dove literally stopped crying, jumped out of my arms and happily followed her sister upstairs. I’ll take it, I thought, even if I don’t really get what just happened.
And as the girls were settling into bed and I took a bite of my cold spare ribs (still yummy) and mashed squash with apples (not as yummy), it occurred to me:
Dove is 23 months old, less than a month from her second birthday. That means that she’ll be two. And not like mellow little Bee was two, I’m sure of it. Gulp.
And then I heard laughter from the girls bedroom. Bee was making Dove laugh a hearty, baby belly laugh. Bee said something else, and Dove shrieked with delight.
Maybe two will be ok, I thought. At least I have an ally.
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