You're never quite as aware of the swirling vortex of confusion that is parenting as when faced with the sudden, unexpected meltdown.
This week Charlie had a massive meltdown which turned out to be about going to school next year. In between massive sobs and hysterical crying, it became apparent that he thinks he's going to hate school because Ben hates it. Fair reasoning on Charlie's part, but for the fact that Ben really rather likes school. This is a child who has NEVER chosen to stay home when given a choice. When confronted with this damning evidence, both Ben and Charlie had to reluctantly concede that it was quite likely that Ben does in fact like school. Conversations with Ben about how talking only about the bad stuff might be cool amongst his friends, but is not cool at home ensued. Poor Charlie, it must look pretty daunting when all he's heard from his older brother is negative messages for years.
A perfect reminder that all the things you carefully consider, the talks you rehearse and consider from all angles, slip right past your kids, and it's the casual, throwaway stuff that no-one gives a second thought about that are life changing and earth shattering.
Ben had a massive meltdown this afternoon when I asked him to do invitations for his birthday party. He's only inviting 3 kids, I really didn't think this represented a major task, and he was claiming boredom. I think it all stemmed from angst about not being able to make precisely the right invitation for each child. I suspect I may understand that kind of perfectionist paralysis all too well, so we'll be working on the merits of half arsed efforts tomorrow.
Finally, as befitting a 3 year old, Elissa had the most over-acted, most ridiculous meltdown of the week this evening. She completely dropped her bundle and sobbed and sobbed because 2 kids from her day care (who will be coming to her birthday party on Sunday) are "going to big school without me". They're going to the same school as Charlie, so they're hardly disappearing out of her life. More importantly, while she clearly likes these kids, it's also clear that they are not her best friends. Possibly because they're two years older than her. And to close the meltdown loop, she then proceeded to sob even more ferociously because she's unjustly excluded from going to school next year.
At least her meltdown was easier to sooth. I spoke in a silly voice, she used my face as plasticine and farted on me. After which she was laughing so hard, she'd utterly forgotten the injustices of the world.