I could hear them before they even entered the building … his screech, her frustrated murmuring, unclear words with clear intent to hush and stop the fussing.
It did not get better in the vestibule, or the stairway. Screaming, banging on the rails (there’s fantastic echo in the building–apparently it is spectacularly irresistible for maximizing the effect of tantrums).
The mother’s pleas inched up in volume, from “stop this” to “please behave” and “you are making too much noise” to “other people are going to get mad at you” and “if you don’t stop this there’d be no playdates.” The immediate effect was a proportionate rise in the child’s loudness.
I decided to go meet them half-way. It is not something I usually do, so my very appearance in the hallway was enough to generate sufficient surprise to elicit momentary silence. I capitalized. “Sounds like you are having a hard day,” I noted, directing my words to both red-faced figures, one with mortification, one with the exertion of maximizing vocal output on steep stairs.
“I’m melting,” he noted, quite matter of fact, I might add.
“Oh,” I responded.
The mom looked from him to me and back again. “Melting?”
“A meltdown, I suppose,” I smiled, turned to the boy. “It sure sounds like a major meltdown.”
He nodded emphatically, satisfied.
“Do you think you had enough of a meltdown for one time?” I offered my hand to him. “It sounds pretty exhausting.”
He considered, placed his little hand in mine. Turned to his mother with a rather smug expression. “I done melting now.”
“I’m glad,” she managed.
“What was this about?” I wondered aloud.
“He wanted to be the one to press the button for the bus stop …”
“But someone else on the bus already pressed it … so he refused to get off …”
I looked at him with a raised eyebrow. He nodded, approving of the testimony. “It was my turn to push the button,” he accused.
“Hmm, maybe other people on the bus didn’t know that.”
He looked shocked at the very notion. How could anyone not know what he clearly had?
We climbed. He pondered.
“It only got worse from there,” his mother added, still debriefing. “I had to carry him off the bus, screaming. He threw himself on the ground …”
It explained the stage of his clothing … it had rained earlier …
“He got himself all wet …” she sighed, “I’m sorry for bringing him in such a mess.”
He turned to her, his face a mask of indignation. “Of course I wet, Mama! I was melting!”