An apt title considering this weekend Melbourne is having its heaviest December rainfall in history. Widespread flooding is expected throughout the state. It’s going to get messy.
But not as messy as a mini-meltdown.
My boys are 12 and 10.5. My eldest, Max, needs 10 hours of sleep. One minute less and he is a monster. He can’t cope. I can see this metaphorical meteorite a mile away. Armageddon is coming. Beware the tsunami. Get to higher ground.
But if he gets the requisite amount of sleep, he is generally a pleasure. Easy going. Compliant. Manageable.
My youngest, Zak, doesn’t need much sleep. He’s got plenty of energy. Always moving. Never slowing down. Up late. Up early. Unrelenting. Exhausting. Challenging.
Between the two of them, there is never a dull moment.
I would take a toddler tantrum over a mini meltdown in a second. The thrashings of a troublesome tot will test the patients of any parent. But if you choose to, you can simply pick up that meddlesome minor and move them to a different spot.
Try picking up a 12 year old in mid meltdown. It can’t be done.
A 12 year old that loses it is not a joke. The emotions that flood through their hormone ravaged bodies make them uncontrollable. They are old enough to do damage to others, themselves or poor plasterboard walls. They have lost control at this point.
Calming them down takes a great deal of patience and resolve. It can be scary dealing with this. No amount of pacifying or pleading will work until they have refocused. There are many sites that can offer advice on how best to deal with these kinds of flare ups.
I’ve just got two rules. No damage to others, no damage to property. Then ride it out.
“I hate you.
I wish you were dead.
You wish I was dead.
Why can’t you be a better parent.
You are so selfish.
I’m reporting you to child services.
I’m running away.
Call the police.
You don’t love me.
I don’t love you.”
And that’s just from my wife.
We had our eldest walk out last night refusing to ever return.
My wife’s in a panic. I’m watching the flood warning on the news
“a storm is coming” I tell her as she sits paces around the house.
“I don’t know what to do” she says
“we’ll batten down the hatches and ride it through” I say
“I meant about Max. Dick.”
My tolerance for pandering diminishes with age. He’s 12. He’s walked out. What’s the point in driving the streets. To do what. Pick him up? Plead with him to get into the car. Then what?
He’ll be back when he’s back. He needs to realise that if he walks out he needs to walk back in. I’m not running after him.
I know worst case scenario is always at the forefront of a parent’s mind. But really, and without tempting fate, the chances of someone out to do an injustice, at that exact time, in the exact spot where he is taking a walk is very small.
But. There is always a chance. And it’s that chance that had my wife searching the streets.
She comes back empty handed.
Max walks in 10 minutes later.
As Max walks in. Mum walks out. Dad is left to clean up the mess and put them both to bed.
It was exhausting and not without some more hefty exchanges.
But with sniffles and sobs they finally fell asleep.
Today Max walks into the house after school looking very sheepish.
“I’m sorry Dad. I’m sorry mum. I was just really tired. I know it’s no excuse. Sorry.”
And the storm has passed. Calm returns.
It has left a mess. But it can be cleaned up. We know there’s another one coming. We will be ready.
And hopefully better prepared.
We’re still learning as we go.
It’s just one wild ride after another.