She was tired. There had been of course THE kindergarten graduation, which was a culmination of months of practice. There had been singing with the junior choir at temple. There was the arrival of her Nonni. There was the “you are free to swim” announcement from the ENT. There was a soccer game. It had been a busy few days, with lots of excitement, emotion, and fanfare.
And then there was…a meltdown.
Of EPIC proportions.
As if a time bomb had been ticking, tick tock, tick tock….waiting for just the right moment to go off.
On Saturday afternoon, Principessa was preparing to leave for her annual sojourn with her Nonni to bridge the time where she is out of school and I am still working. Bags were packed. Toys were stowed. The DS was charged. This trip was even more exciting because apart from spending time ruling the roost in Norfolk, she would travel south to Florida to see her baby cousin. She was looking forward it…or so we thought.
As the moment came to get into the car, I gave her a hug. That was probably my first mistake. She would not let go. At first it was playful. But before I knew what had happened, there were big wet tears welling in her little eyes. There was a tight grip on my arm.
To her credit, she did follow me outside. But then…it was as if her feet were cemented in the driveway. There was no movement. There was however noise, screeching wails, coupled with gulping sounds.
It was like a scene you might see in a movie, where a child is being taken from a parent. The desperate face. The terror. The heart wrenching “don’t leave me.”
I managed to get her inside the car. Buckled in her booster seat with her hand attempting to claw its way into my shoulder. Then there was the arm bracing movement, putting her hands up to stop me from closing the door.
The problem of course was that all this emotion, this over the top epic meltdown, was stinging me at my core. As if someone was slowly turning the water valve in my eyes, my tears started to drip. I tried to hide my face. Her seeing me cry would not help. But seriously, you would have thought that I was abandoning my child.
I wasn’t of course. She was going off to a spend a lovely two weeks with her cherished Nonni. Two weeks of fun and sun and promises of fins if she practiced her swimming. But in that moment, it was all I could do to get that door closed.
I did eventually. It hurt to close the door and walk away. As the car drove away, I retreated to Principessa’s room and shed enough of my own private tears to fill a small lake.
It turns out that Principessa was exhausted. Soon after getting in the car, she fell asleep. For three hours. Which is great as far as explaining away her behavior, but not for taking away the scar I have permanently etched in my brain from watching her pathetic little face become distorted from anguish.
The good news is that of course she is fine. There was never any doubt about her having a grand time. And my onslaught of tears can be explained away by monthly hormones. (phew, I would not have wanted to seem like the overly emotional type!)
But in the meantime, I have to hope that none of my neighbors were watching with a phone in their hand ready to call child protective services. I am pretty sure that there is nothing I could have done. The tick tock of emotions had started long before the final eruption. And once the fuse was lit, there was no putting it out.
I guess now I wait. For the time bomb to explode again one day in the future. Hopefully this time I will be prepared with some artillery or kleenex or something.