Do you ever feel overwhelmed by panic and go into total meltdown? It happened to my granddaughter Jasper yesterday, and to me this morning. Fortunately, we both recovered in short order. I guess we have what psychologists these days are fond of calling resilience or hardiness. Mine is hard won over many decades, and often tenuous. I hope hers is more intrinsic.
At least one day a week, I drive down to Woodstock to care for my granddaughters. I usually take Jasper, a cheerful and rambunctious three -year-old, to McDonalds, where she loves playing in the enormous play tower with other kids. Yesterday, in pursuit of an older boy, she climbed up to the very top, where she’d never been before.
All at once I heard shrill screams – “Grandma, Grandma!” At first I ignored them – the majority of the adults there are grandmas – but then I realized it was Jasper. I couldn’t see her, and my first fear was that she was stuck in the purple slide tunnel - an opaque cylindrical shoot. Disastrous, if true, because I was afraid of getting stuck if I had to crawl up. But finally I spied her standing in the window of the highest plastic bubble, shrieking and sobbing uncontrollably. I waved and began calling out in what I hoped was a reassuring voice, trying to talk her down, concealing my panic at the prospect of climbing the tower myself.
At last she managed to scramble down and make it back to the table and her unfinished Happy Meal. Regaining her composure, she said, “I want to go right now.” I tried coaxing her into staying – the old “get right back on the horse after it throws you” approach – but she was adamant. Once we were in the car, though, she presented me with an alternative: she wanted to go to Small World, an enormous outdoor playground with wooden fortresses, slides, and towers.
“But it’s raining,” Grandma Julie said. “You’ll get soaked.”
“I don’t care! I wanna go to Small World!”
“There won’t be any other kids to play with.”
“That’s okay. I wanna play by myself.”
Actually it was only drizzling slightly, so I relented, realizing she needed to prove something to herself. We spent a pleasant half hour in the warm spring mist, Jasper running and climbing the tallest towers, and me hunkered down in one of the fortresses, studying WordPress for Dummies.
Now, what about my own meltdown? I’ll give you the option to stop here or read more.