Panic in play tower and clutter overwhelm

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.

I’m overwhelmed by clutter – one of my lifelong problems, exacerbated by the fact that in 2001, my husband and I downsized to a smaller house than we’re used to, with square footage about a third of that I used to enjoy in my SoHo loft. What with my writing, my various visual arts and my hoarding of old books, I’m dangerously disorganized.

Today I’d scheduled a lunch date at which I was to return something to a friend (I’ll keep the specifics vague, since this is one of my therapeutic rants.) My husband came up to help me look in a spare room, which is painted Pepto Bismol pink, and which I’ll need to clean out before our older granddaughter Kaya comes to visit this summer. We rapidly got to shouting about all my “junk” (aka art work and supplies.) The cats rapidly picked up on our vibes and got into a squalling catfight of their own.

I didn’t find the missing thingie, so I called the friend to inform him of the fact and to say I’d be glad to have lunch anyway.

“No, that’s okay,” he said. “Why don’t we wait and have lunch after you find the &*#@%, so we can celebrate and put this behind us.”

“Sounds good,” I said. “But it may be awhile. I thought it would be behind the old mattress frame we finally moved out, and now I have no idea where it is.” 

“Well, I’ll expect it this Sunday.”

At this point I went ballistic, and I could feel my blood pressure shooting up. As I posted not long ago, I’m at the point where I can by and large cut negative people out of my life. And another one’s gone, and another one’s gone, and another one bites the dust, as the song says.

I’m feeling better already, sitting here blogging, listening to the birds singing while my cat Lunesta dozes beside me. We’re both calmer now.

I’m also learning more every day about WordPress. This is the first time I used the “more” command to jump to another page, and the formatting tools under the “kitchen sink” item to indent dialogue. And I like the idea of breaking off the blog in the middle, then saving some of the more personal stuff for the continuation. What do you all think? Has anyone read this far?


14 thoughts on “Panic in play tower and clutter overwhelm

  1. I got to the end, Julie, and enjoyed every word. I love the interplay between you and Jasper and how you integrated the theme of overwhelm and going ballistic into a story. Isn’t it amazing how so many of us who are at “grandmother” ages, are learning and utilizing all this new technology. I’m really quite proud of myself, now that I write that.


    • Thanks for the encouragement, Karen, and for reading all the way through my longish post. I agree, we deserve to be proud of ourselves!

  2. That’s a frustrating situation for you! Hope you’re able to find the lost item without too much additional trouble.

    You’re doing really well with the new technology! You’re just taking on a lot at one time….that can be hard to do, especially when you’re managing a home at the same time. I hope things look up for you.


  3. Great blog, from one who went ballistic about a missing newspaper earlier this week. And I also give us a standing ovation for learning all this new stuff even though we’re at that grandma age. Today I finally created a blog with links that open in new windows, got that darned “Share” button on my blog, and even added a Twitter “Follow Me” button (and then tweaked the code so my Twitter profile would open in a new window). The only thing that bothered about your blog was the mention of McDonald’s. I immediately got the urge to eat french fries. LOL


    • Thanks, Patricia. I agree, we deserve a standing ovation! Interesting you got a yen for mcDonald’s french fries – when I first read the phrase “bothered me about McDonald’s,” I thought you were going to chastise me for being politically incorrect.

      BTW, this comment of yours and some previous ones showed up in my spam folder, which I just got around to checking. Happens with some other people too, but I have no idea why. Hate to cause you more techno-worries.

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed that blog (and yes, of course I read it all :D) I could visualize your granddaughter overwhelmed at her accomplishment and wanting nothing more than to get out of dodge. As you mentioned when she calmed she felt the need to test herself and prove something to herself. I commend you for recognizing that need of hers.

    I can totally commiserate with you when you have to hunt for something that you were confident you knew where it was and it is nowhere to be found. I have such a paper right now. I specifically remember having it and putting in my notebook…which I later cleaned out for another meeting and have no idea where I put that silly paper. In the words of Scarlett O’Hara (my heroine) “I’ll think about that tomorrow”.

    Thanks for sharing.

    NA Sharpe

    • Thanks! Glad you read all the way through. Re: losing things, for me it’s getting critical – last week I misplaced my monthly NYS retirement check! I’m going to solve that by signing up for direct deposit.

  5. I’m an “overcalm” girl. Once I saw a woman in blood walking past me and I didn’t even stop to ask how she was. I don’t know if that’s good or not.

    But you’re right to panic. Anything could have happened when children are involved. But I’m happy all was good. And I read to the end. Good on you to learn using the read more gadget, I confess I haven’t yet.

    Fantasy stories by Enid Wilson

    • Thanks, Enid. At least I’m usually able to project outer calm, as I did in this case. Working for 13 years in a psychiatric hospital will do that to you.

      About the “read more” gadget, I’m not sure if BlogSpot has it. I’m on WordPress, which is trickier, but Alexis Grant reassured me it’s worth it.

  6. I read that far! You’re doing so well with the technology. And with your granddaughter, too, apparently!

    I just showed my mom your book. She was impressed and wants to read it after me 🙂 I’m in the middle of three, I repeat, three other books right now, so my goal is to finish those before I get to yours.

    Happy weekend!

  7. Yep. Read all the way to the end. I like the calm way you handled your granddaughter’s meltdown and the way you triumphed over your own. Agree entirely. Life is to short to have negative people stomping over your psyche.

  8. I too read all the way to the end and read all the comments. I’m in the process of reading your blogs category by category. I’m down to Grandmothering. I’m going alphabetically so have a ways to go. I think you paint vivid word pictures with your feeling reactions to everything so evident. Love it all. I am getting to know you better through your posts.

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