Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How I Dealt With A Temper Tantrum and an Autism Meltdown

I opened the fridge, pulled out the marshmallow fluff flavored vodka, opened it, and wrapped my mouth around the opening.

I’d like to say I chugged it.

But I don’t chug. Maybe something is wrong with me. I don’t know. The second the liquid hit my tongue, my gag reflex went off and I managed a tiny, pathetic sip. I could never do shots either. While everyone tossed them back, I sipped mine.

Still. The tiny bit of alcohol I did get seemed to warm my body. I put the bottle away, opened a drawer, and reached for a chocolate bar. I managed to stick half of that in my mouth without gagging. I’m a champion when it comes to eating.

So why was I (attempting) to chug booze and stuffing my face with calories?

Because of the tiny people I had helped create. My daughter started it all when she refused to take a bath. She had been sitting on the living room floor, surrounded by her My Little Ponies. I had warned her that she had five minutes until bathtime. She responded with a sharp nod and continued to play. Then I kindly said five minutes later, “Okay, it’s time for a bath,” and I was met with, “Not yet.”

I’m sorry. Not yet? I was polite and gave her a warning time like all the ‘experts’ suggest for easier transitions. I was not going to put up with “not yet.”

“It’s time for your bath,” I tried again. “I’ll put bubbles in it.”

Natalie shook her head. “I’m playing.”

I counted to five silently and went, “Natalie. I’m the mother and when I ask you to do something, you do it. I’m sorry you didn’t get one of those parents who let the kids come up with their own rules. No, you got a mother who expects to be told “yes mommy” when I ask you to do something. I get that you’re getting older and therefore will test my limits but I’m here to tell you that it won’t happen. If I allow it now you’ll turn into one of those scary teens who think it’s okay to wear tiny clothes and smoke and experiment with drugs. So when I say it’s time for your bath, you tell me “yes mommy.” So let’s try this again: Natalie. It’s time for your bath.”

Natalie opened her mouth and for a second I thought, “Yes, it worked, my speech worked!”

Then she screamed.


Clearly, this is unacceptable behavior. So I picked her up and carried her to her bedroom. I explained that she was not allowed to scream and yell at me while she bellowed, “All I wanted to do was PLAY WITH MY PONIES!”

So I’m dealing with one child behaving like what I imagine Amanda Bynes behaved like before she got the help and then Tommy comes rushing out of his room freaking out because he can’t take all the noise. He’s clamping his hands over his ears and going, “Stop, NATALIE STOP, I CAN’T TAKE THIS! I CAN’T TAKE THIS, STOP, STOP, STOP.”

He has autism and deals with sensory issues, so he cannot handle the crying.

I have one little girl sobbing hysterically, I have a boy in full meltdown mode. What I wanted to do was drop Natalie, run out of the house, and go racing down the street. But I couldn’t, because Tom isn’t here, and it’s just me.

I had to come up with a solution. I could come up with a solution. Think. WWOPD. (What would Olivia Pope do? Weird thing to pop in someone’s mind, but I’ve been watching season 2 of Scandal.)

I set Natalie down in her bed and told her she needed a time out. I shut her door as Tommy rocked back and forth in the hallway.


This is what you have to do when Tommy is in full meltdown mode. You have to look him in the eye, which isn’t easy, because he’s not always a fan of eye contact. You have to grasp his wrists and remind him to breathe, breathe, breathe. Then you pull him against you and rub his back, all while reminding him to breathe.

“It’s okay, it’s okay, breathe, breathe, breathe,” I whispered. “Breathe.”

“I CAN’T TAKE IT, MOMMY! STOP IT NATALIE! YOU ARE THE WORST! Why did you have to have another baby? Why couldn’t I have been the only one? SHE’S THE WORST!” Tommy screamed.

And yes, while he was shouting that, Natalie was still having a temper tantrum.

“Tommy, stop it. Don’t say ugly things, you are better than that. Breathe.” I brought him into his room and shut his door. Natalie’s cries were slightly muffled. I held him close, rubbing his back. “Breathe.” I felt his body began to relax. He began to take deep breaths. I stayed with him for a bit until he was better. Then I said I was going to check on Natalie. As I left, he began crashing against his mattress over and over again. This also helps relax him.

Natalie also was beginning to calm down. She whispered an “I’m sorry” and promised she’d take her bath.

“It’s just,” she sniffled, “my ponies didn’t want me to leave.”

Later, as she took her bath, Tommy wandered over and apologized. “When Natalie cries like that, it feels like I have a million razors stabbing my brain,” he explained. “I’ll try to be better.”

So yes. I have rough days. But every parent does.

It’s why I have a chocolate drawer.


  1. Yes, we have all had days like as parents. My youngest is extremely "strong-willed" so everything, EVERYTHING is a battle!

    Thank God for chocolate.

    And wouldn't it be awesome to have your own personal Olivia Pope? Love her.

  2. You did wonderful! Just what Olivia would have done.

    I would have chosen chocolate over alcohol too. HUGS!

  3. We had a couple of those moments while I was home over the summer. What I just want the kids to explain to me is why they only pull this kind of behaviour with me and not with their dad.

  4. Wow, you are amazing. I think you handled it with amazing strength. I know we all go through things like this, but you don't have Tom to tag team with. Thank you for being such a wonderful mom, and not letting Natalie make her own rules.

  5. I think I would have downed that bottle! Kidding!

    Sounded like you handled the situation perfectly!

    My granddaughter is not autistic, but does have SPD, so the banging of her head on the couch and loud noises bothering her sounds VERY familiar!

  6. You're doing an amazing job. Never, ever forget that!!!!

  7. Some days are just rough and chocolate sure does help. By the way, I think those little ponies are waterproof ;) Just a thought for next time.

  8. Wow- what a showdown. You are a rockstar mom for staying calm through that storm. Chocolate and booze are musts for any parents. After an epic meltdown from my son the other night, I had a glass of wine. Takes the edge off.

  9. You handled it 1000% better than I did the medicine meltdown the other day. Hats off to you!

  10. Sounds like you handled it well. Perhaps next time a video of Na to send to Dad, so that he can appreciate her from a distance?

  11. I wish so much that you didn't have to go through these "events" alone. You really are a wonderful Mom. You're doing great!

  12. Wow! I can barely handle one toddler meltdown...

  13. Oh, I've so been there. A super tight hug (aka deep pressure) is what helps here... eventually anyway.

  14. I'm glad you have a routine with Tommy that helps him calm down. 5 years since our diagnosis with Jayce and I still haven't found the magic words/touch that helps him.

  15. A chocolate drawer... Hmmm I bet that works better than wishing for a chocolate fairy which is what I was doing yesterday.
    You are an awesome mom!

  16. I think you're kind of a rock star ;)

  17. Sending you the biggest of hugs - because holy hell - AND you are doing it alone. You are a GREAT mom and your kid will thank you for it. One day. In the future...far, far into the future; but still. They will thank you and it will all have been worth it. Promise.

  18. great post! I am pretty sure you deserve all the chocolate you want. Thank you, you are quite the inspiration.

  19. I think you did it better than Olivia did it. Perhaps in the next new episode she should be asking, "WWAD?"

  20. AWESOME post. I loved read it. I think you need TWO chocolate drawers.

  21. I know that I do not know you personally or your husband - but I think you are a great mom and you handled the situation well. I have seen you write in your last few posts about "Tom's not here" and we all can see that you miss him and love him a lot. I hope that he returns home soon. My heart actually broke reading about your son not handling his sister getting upset. As for your daughter, are you sure her name is not really Shelby Jean? I go through that with Shelby either with bath time or bed time. Lucas a little too but Shelby is a little more. By the way, I can't do shots either - have to sip them too

  22. I think you handled it well. Sounds like you know your children and handled an awful situation the way they both needed.

  23. Been there so many times...and you did good mom, very good. I love you bunches and you're not alone...and chocolate is good...very good - vodka too - but chocolate is better.

  24. I love that you posted this and how real it is. I hope that other single parents, or parents of kids with autism feel a little less alone after reading this.

  25. Have you tried noise cancelling headphones for Tommy? Like the ones they sell with the guns and ammo? My son is autistic and they are used all the time at his school for students who have a hard time with the noise. It would give him a quick way to muffle it while he calms down.

  26. Sounds like you'er doing a great job! We have nights similar to these at my house!

  27. Yes, we all have those days, but admittedly, yours has a different challenge than mine.
    My friend's daughter was just diagnosed with Asperger's and is at a bit of a loss. I'm featuring her story next week, love for you to come over and offer her some advice.


Thanks for the comment!

Share This

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...