Hope was on a birthday high. We went out to dinner with friends and their daughters. Hope held it together through dinner and then lost it. The different perspective came from being in a public place and getting to watch the Dad handle it. He tried to sit her next to him and she fought him off, followed by loud screaming. He took her out of the restaurant. Five minutes later, he texted me to bring their coats out. They were sitting on a bench in front of the restaurant, with Hope still screaming and trying to get away. The Dad knew Hope was not calming down and said he was taking her to the car. 15 minutes later, the Dad called to say Hope threw up all over herself and could I bring him something to clean her up. I brought paper towels out to the car (from now on I will leave a roll), and heard Hope still screaming when I was still some distance from the car. I went back inside, asked for the Dad’s dessert to go, and urged everyone else to finish up. Just as everyone was finishing up, maybe 10 minutes later, Hope and her Dad came back in. The waitress quickly got ice cream and balloons for Hope and most people in the restaurant sang Happy Birthday to her. She looked dazed and stunned and we got out of there as quickly as we could. As I watched this meltdown from the perspective of a bystander, I noticed a couple of things:
- Meltdowns don’t seem nearly as long when you are not the one directly involved with them.
- Once Hope has lost it, there is no pulling her back… you just have to ride it out.
- It doesn’t take much for defiant, manipulative behavior to turn into a full blown rage.
- When it was over, the Dad was obviously tired. No wonder I am ready for bed as soon as Hope is asleep.