We've had quite a few meltdowns in our house recently. Yes, during this lovely Christmas season, we have had tears and sobs and hysterics.
The series of meltdowns includes a solid one delivered by me. Not my best moment. In the midst of traveling with it from room to room, I told G (maybe in a really loud voice) I want to be selfish right now.
I guess if you admit it, it's OK. Yeah, nope.
Let me go back a week or two. First, Caroline melted down when I told her she could not get acrylic nails. What started as a cute conversation on wanting a yes day ended in tears because of my response. Since then, we've found these sticker, real polish, $10 a pack nails. (Anyone sell these or would want a 9-year-old test model?)
The next meltdown was Caroline's second in this series. A few days after the nails, we had the grilled cheese event. It started with me arriving home later than I planned so that we could get out the door to go to an evening Christmas market with friends. I had failed to prep the babysitter. I was late. Two strikes so far. When I walked in my house on the phone debriefing the work day with a friend, both the sitter and my daughter wanted my attention. Caroline waved a slice of cheese in my face pleading for a grilled cheese because she couldn't toast one with Snowflake (our elf) sitting on the toaster. (You can't touch these things. They lose magic. Repairing magic is a whole thing with glitter and jingle bells and glow stick juice. We've done it. I can provide notes.)
I'm still on the phone, pulling out the skillet with my sitter sitting, watching me. Hmmmm.
I end the call and the sitter delivers a message that includes words such as 'boyfriend' and 'mono' and 'no symptoms.' In one swoop, I send her quickly out the door and begin Clorox-wiping everything she touched while still making the grilled cheese. Caroline begins to sob because of the grilled cheese which she told me that's all she wanted for the next day.
Stop. Next day? Why the desperate waving of highly-processed orange squares in my face?
As she cried, she also told me it was the worst day of fourth grade because she was asked by the reptile guy at the school assembly if she wanted to hold the snake. (Missed that notice from the school.) When she said not, classmates started to make fun of her for saying no.
Saying no gets you made fun of?
Not in this house.
I let my sweet, people pleasing Caroline know she can say no whenever, wherever, however and why-ever she wants. No one gets to force her or tease her into saying yes.
Note: Caroline is no longer crying at this point. She now has the facial expression of a child reacting to a mother strongly sharing thoughts on the power of no.
I asked her what the reptile guy said when the children were laughing at her. Nothing.
I asked her if any teachers or adults responded. Again, nothing.
I asked her if friends came to her defense. Yeah, pattern emerging. Nothing.
I wanted to immediately call the school and email the principal and hunt down the reptile guy. (Caroline did want to hold the baby turtle, but snake handling was the only extracurricular offered during this assembly.)
Took a breath, flipped the grilled cheese.
I continued to describe to Caroline the power and importance of now. I shared with her that it is hard to say no at times, but we should always be brave and say no if we want to, or need to or simply should.
We headed out the door to go to our gathering, but traffic. We u-turned and made a decision to honor her brave heart with a Frosty from Wendy's. That always works to soothe hurt.
Remember though, there was another meltdown coming starring me. Vanessa Williams sang it so well with 'save the best for last.' Or in my case, the worst was saved and delivered last.
We had an evening packed with errands and goings-ons. I did text my babysitter this time but yet, things still fell apart in the end. All the usuals were scheduled to take place. Caroline and her help the teacher Wednesday. We had the usual friend ride home with the girls day. We had the usual other friend get dropped off and go to Awanas day. We had the usual both Adams girls get a shower before Awanas day.
Well, Camille didn't get a shower because Caroline stayed later than usual with her teacher. And, we had an addition to the usual Wednesday activities -- Camille had a 5 p.m. haircut. (Prep for vacation people, only time to get it scheduled, I know it doesn't make sense. 5 p.m. on a week night?!)
The sitter met me at the salon, dropped off Camille and took the other three girls to church. I thought Camille will have freshly washed locks so the shower later will be quick. No problem.
Camille left the salon with a beautiful hair cut styled and blown out by my lovely and kind hairdresser. I dropped Camille at church and then I ran to HEB to pick up the makings for a colleague's birthday cake. (Here's where pride is a sin. I raved about my upside pineapple cake making abilities so I was committed to making a homemade cake on a school night!)
I arrive home. Ready for the next day. Get settled with dinner made and flip on the DVR. Decide to make the cake in the morning.
When my mom arrived at the house dropping off the girls from church, I told Camille to stay home and shower while I ran the friends home. Gervais was already home from practice so this was going to be flawlessly executed.
Before I left, Camille was begging Gervais to put the angel topper on the tree. The angel and Camille had been patiently waiting for a couple of weeks. The timing made sense. Plus, it's just a plop on the top of the tree.
As I grabbed my car keys, and as Gervais put the angel up, I started to walk out the door and the angel came tumbling down our 7 1/2-foot Martha Stewart pre-lit Aspen Pine artificial tree. On her way down, the angel took out my most favorite ornament. I saw it happening in slow motion and started crying before it hit the ground. It shattered. I yelled, 'my favorite.' And everyone cringed.
Brave Heart down.
My Christopher Radko special limited edition in honor of the first responders at 9-11 Brave Heart ornament shattered. I had hunted for that. I had looked and looked when it came out. Each year, it prominently held a front and center spot on the tree.
I took a deep breath and composed myself. Took the girls home and then talked through with Caroline how it was just an accident and I could always find another ornament. I was really faking it until I could make it.
Walked in the door completely together and Camille was still in the shower. Hmmm. Long time for a quick wash off. She had washed her hair. The beautiful styling gone.
With one Brave Heart gone and now a sweet hair style, I lost it. I spoke very loudly at Camille for washing her hair. Logic?
I yelled as I walked through the house about trying to make everyone else's day better and I just wanted to have my own bad day because I lost my very favorite ornament that you can't replace easily and see when I quickly looked it up on ebay it costs 100s of dollars and we don't have that money right now because vacation and Christmas so why do I have to calm down.
Call me Alexander and the very bad, horrible, no good day.
When I said to Gervais I want to be selfish, he just looked at me as he does and has done for the past 20 plus years and said, it's an ornament.
It's the Brave Heart ornament was my response.
He said, yeah. Brave Heart.
This healthy banter took place for a few more minutes and then it clicked.
Brave Heart. Standing up for what you believe in. Taking action because it's the right thing to do.
My Caroline is having to learn how to say no and then stick to it. I'm still learning how to temper my reactions to things that go wrong.
When things do go horribly wrong, how do we react? Do we stand by what we know to be right and true? Do we overact? Do we over-compensate and end up off the rails?
Christmas is busy. We make it that way. We can opt out. We can say no. We can also say yes. We can be better at planning. We can carve out fourth parts. We choose how and where we spend our time and money.
Saying no isn't easy. Staying true to our beliefs is tough. Reacting appropriately to responses and events around us takes effort and concentration and focus.
So this holiday season, let's stay true to who we are. Let's allow others to say no for beliefs they hold true. Let's listen to each other. Let's find time.
Let's share and show our brave hearts.