My Son had a Meltdown…and I Couldn’t be More Proud of Him.

Jonah has been playing in the dirt all day as is proper for summertime but it leaves him a dirty mess.

Jonah has this thing now where he dislikes taking baths… he used to take around 6 a day because he was cooped up in the house for so long, he needed a break.

But now he hates them. I think it’s because he is cold when he gets out. Now, every time he is in the bath he gets out within 3 minutes.

So he is filthy. He needs a bath. I tell him so. He screams at me.

I try to take his shirt off, he pulls it back down.

I try to pull his shorts off, he pulls them back up. So I used the daddy trick.

I grabbed him and started snuggling him while sneaking his shirt off. As soon as he realized what was going on, it was an instant meltdown. HE SCREAMED AT ME.

Mommy helped to get his shorts and pull-up off, and I forced him into the tub.

And he stood there, screaming at me. He let me wash him… all of his body, and hair and face. He still screamed, but he didn’t flail. He didn’t throw things.

In less than a minute, he was clean. I tried to pick him back up to dry him off, but he wouldn’t allow it. He just stood there in the draining water crying and screaming at me.

I had forgotten to get his jammies out or get another pull up so I walked back to his room to get some.

And blast it, the only jammies he had in his drawer were the footie jammies that were probably too small. But, as I was mulling over getting some out of the laundry downstairs, Jojo climbed out of he bath all by himself and was huddled up in the hallway, dripping wet, crying and shivering.

Footie jammies it was.

He screamed at me, but he allowed me to put his pull up on… I went to try the jammies, worried that the spell would break and he would start flailing and would just have to go to bed like that. It wouldn’t be the first time.

I pulled him up. He screamed. He hit me. Once. It was now or never.

One arm… 2 arms…

One foot… two feet… phew.

Zipped him up annnnd…

Yep. They are too small. He will be getting up before midnight in a FOUL mood with his toes hurting unable to stretch out all the way.

I made an executive decision that if there was to be a meltdown, a preferable time would be at 8:30pm as opposed to 2:30am so I went to the laundry.

I grabbed his nice clean 2-piece fleece jammies just waiting to be folded (with the other 4 baskets of laundry) and went back upstairs.

He had calmed a little.

Then I started unzipping the jammies we had just worked so hard to get on.

AND ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE.

His scream hit decibels usually reserved for rock concerts and jet-engines. He resisted everything I tried. I had unzipped his jammies about halfway and NOW he was flailing, screaming, laying on the floor. Wanting to be left alone, but NOT wanting to be left alone. I could see frustration, confusion, and an overwhelming desire to lash out.

I think he was caught between “not liking the current jammies” but “not wanting to do any more work to put new ones on.”

I gave him some space to try to compose himself. I could tell he was not comfy in those jammies. Half of him was trying to zip them back up and the other half was trying to wriggle out.

So I stepped in to help. He screamed at me. He hit me. Right in the head. 2 times.

But bless his heart, he didn’t resist when I took them off. Even though he screamed the whole time. I was able to put the new jammies on, while he cried and tried to hit me.

After he had them on, he laid down on the floor. I got his sippy-cup.

I told him “time for bed!” and tried to pick him up.

He didn’t want me to touch him. He stayed curled up on the floor. I was prepared to let him fall asleep right there, in the middle of the hallway.

I turned the lights off and turned on his nighttime music. After about a minute, he calmed down, got up, walked to me and put his hands out (signaling for me to pick him up). He was ready for bed.

I picked him up and tucked him in.

He was asleep within 5 minutes. It was only 2 minutes past bedtime.

In the past, I have blogged about meltdowns like this. Meltdowns that last all night, that range all over the house, that end up with broken toys or cuts and bruises.

But not this one.

Tonight, my boy overcame the meltdown and was able to do what he needed to do, even when he screamed and flailed and hit while he did it.

He composed himself and he controlled it. I didn’t ask him to stop screaming, and he stopped himself from hitting. I knew he needed to communicate his unhappiness with me. I could tell he was restraining himself from lashing out violently and that was enough. That IS enough. I couldn’t ask for more.

I am so proud of him. My Jojo. What I saw tonight, was progress.

Jason Reynolds
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Jason Reynolds

Jason is a freelance photographer and graphic designer. He is also a parent of Jonny (8) and Jonah (3) who was diagnosed with Autism in December 2016.
Jason Reynolds
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