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Tuesday, July 28, 2009


I like the word meltdown. It makes me think of a big bowl of vanilla ice cream sitting on the kitchen table slowly melting until a hand grenade is tossed into it and it explodes in a fiery rage.

The girl had one of those today. A meltdown. Thankfully not a hand grenade.

As often happens, this incident involved sharing. Sometimes the girl can be quite good at sharing. If the other kid has something she wants the girl will be quite happy to share anything of hers in order to get it. That is her strategy with the boy anyway. I like to think of it as the bait-and-switch sharing technique. She has probably patented it already.

Today we went to the park with her toy push car. Normally I don't like to take toys with us to the park because there have been sharing problems before. The rule around here is if we take it to the park it gets shared with the other kids. In fact, that is pretty much the park rule. We share with the other kids and they share with us.

The girl isn't really into that. It took about three weeks to convince her that we should bring the sand toys with us to the park. Any previous attempts had resulted in copious amounts of tears. Copious. Finally I brought her around by explaining that the sand toys were for the boy to play with. Somehow that made everything okay.

But today she wanted to take the car with her to the park. I said that she would have to share the car with the other kids if we brought it. She said, direct quote from her I swear, "I can share. I am good at sharing". So I let her bring it. My mistake.

As soon as we entered the park a little boy came racing towards us at full speed from across the basketball courts. He climbed right onto the car, which the girl had been pushing from behind, and started to peddle away. The girl was actually okay with this. She happily pushed him and the two motored on together. When a second little boy joined them things got a little more complicated. The two boys wanted to go off together with the car and the girl still wanted to keep pushing. There was some disagreements. I tried to mediate the whole thing, offering up suggestions like "why don't you both push with one hand" or "how about taking turns pushing". The girl started crying as one of the boys started edging her out. As I reminded her that we had to share our toys at the park and that she would get her turn she let go of the car and the boys took off. She started crying even harder.

(I should say that we know these boys and see them a lot at the park. Often the girl plays quite happily with them.)

No other parents were around. It was just me and the girl standing on the basketball court. I picked her up and carried her to the picnic table to talk about sharing and how she would get her turn soon. Poor thing. She was very upset. I told her we could go home. No, she wanted to stay.

Finally the mom of one of the two boys came over and asked if the girl was crying because they had taken her car. Uh, yes. I can get them to give it back she said. She called the boys over and offered them Popsicles. They quickly abandoned the car. Now the girl was upset about the car having been taken and having to sit next to the two boys eating Popsicles. I started to feel sorry for her at that point.

I managed to guide her away from the Popsicles eating boys and towards a park bench. We talked about the sharing and about going home. Through the tears that had returned she said she wanted to stay at the park. I suggested covering the car with our towel so that no one would see it and want to play with it. For some reason the sight of the towel draped over the car increased her hysterics.

At this point her sobs were loud and her voice louder. Other parents started looking. I just smiled. The boy was at home with Grandma, thankfully because if he had started his sympathy crying at that point, which he sometimes does, I would have been turning on the waterworks too.

When she started demanding snacks between her bouts of crying I thought, okay I have got to get you home somehow. I managed to persuade her that we could go home and get snacks and then come back to the park. Really, I had no intention of heading back if she was still in that state but I would have said anything to get her home.

As luck would have it the husband arrived home from work just as she and I sat in the living room entering into negotiations about returning to the park. No "hi honey, how was work" from me. I gave him a run down and left the girl in his care.

I needed a spoon for the bowl of ice cream that had exploded in my face.

Dad, this post is for you.


  1. aww meltdowns are always no fun! I think ice cream therapy is excellent! Yay for good timing from Dad too!

  2. You did a great job! We'll get them socialized, one way or the other!

  3. Yay for ice cream! and Yay for dad! I agree, you did a very good job! I understand about the "sympathy" crying from the boy... but sometimes I think it is my boy's way of getting the attention back onto him!! :D

  4. Oh man, the sharing thing is so hard. I do the same thing with my kids. Although I do have a bit of a rule that if my child brings a toy somewhere they are allowed to play with it first and then they should share. It was a system my oldest sons first day care had and it worked well.

  5. If one of my kids is having a bad sharing day, on rare day I'll intervene and say to the other kids "That's his special toy today, and he doesn't feel like sharing right now." It works pretty well, not to say we haven't had our share of meltdowns at the park (and the grocery store, and the restaurant, and...)