M had her Highland Dancing exam yesterday. She was very outwardly calm about it, practising regularly and going to all her extra classes (once a week after school) and seeming quietly confident.
However, on Friday evening she had her melatonin at the usual time for a weekend which means that she should have been fast asleep by 8.30. Hah! I was out collecting something so I got home about 9. She was suddenly wide awake and downstairs “E forgot to brush my teeth.” Her big sister had indeed forgotten, so a quick brush later and she was tucked back up.
The next hour and a half was hard work. I had a little Jack-in-the-box, not a sleepy daughter. Her final assault on my emotions was a pathetic wail that we hadn’t fed her any tea and her tummy was rumbling. (I would like to point out for any worried readers that of course we had fed her.) I sent her back downstairs for a jam sandwich and a drink, and called down to hubby to stick a second melatonin in the sandwich. We’ve been strongly resisting upping her dosage even though the paediatrician said we could, as usually she will settle. This time it was needed, and thankfully she finally dropped off about 10.45.
The next worry was would she wake in time. Being woken is a sure-fire way to turn her mood into cranky straight away, so it was with huge relief that she was awake and cheerful in plenty of time in the morning.
I deliberately didn’t get to the hall too much in advance. M has short hair so nothing needed to be done except for changing into her dancing outfit and having her photo taken (I do this every year). She was quite buzzed and hyper, whizzing around the room and chatting to everyone. I managed to calm her down by giving her my tablet to play some games on. And then she went through for the exam.
This is my happy girl (on the surface) when she returned:
We stuck rigidly to our usual post-dancing routine of snack at the cafe, wander around the charity shops and then a quick top-up shop in the supermarket before heading home.
B had had a lovely morning out in the garden helping L with her guinea pigs and bouncing on the trampoline. He was full of sunshine and good spirits. Unfortunately for him, he had also borrowed some of M’s dinosaurs to play with. She went nuts at him, really over the top, and hit him hard before I was able to intervene. I know she was exhausted from the late night and change in routine but violence to other people is a hard limit in our house, I comforted B while L raced upstairs for the weighted blanket. We parked M on the sofa in front of a dvd and told her firmly not to move unless she needed to pee.
Thankfully, it worked. the quiet time and the deep pressure from her blanket soothed all the upset away and gave her time to “restore factory settings” as I tend to think of it. I guess the nerves about the exam, the late night and the change in routine from lesson to exam was enough to tip her over the edge. Poor B was just the trigger for her explosion. I think if it hadn’t have been the dinosaurs it would have been something equally small – and maybe I would never have been able to avoid it. When she is older I am hoping she will know to take herself somewhere quiet for a while in order to decompress and manage her anxieties before they hit meltdown, but I am grateful that I was able to contain most of it and keep her and everyone else safe.
We ended the day in a much nicer way, M and B friends again. I took them to the local shop to choose an ice lolly then we headed to the park. They had a wonderful hour playing in both parks, and in one they met some friends who were delighted to see them. M spent most of her time on the swings – she adores the motion and I think they calm her. I can understand this as my place of refuge as a child was my swing in our garden. I could spend literally hours swinging.
The evening routine went without a hitch; cuddles and melatonin and being very tired from so much exercise was enough to send M to sleep before 8.30 and the “normal” was restored.
I do need to learn to pre-empt the meltdowns though – perhaps I should have had her blanket and dvd waiting for her. As a so-called “neuro-typical” myself it is very hard if not impossible to think ahead about what might be ahead that upsets M to the point she can’t handle her emotions. Every time she explodes it gives me an insight into how not to handle it next time. I know as she matured she will learn to self-regulate but until then I will keep on trying to keep the scales balanced.