Tuesday, May 18, 2010


According to Dictionary.com:
Meltdown: (noun)
1. The term that describes the melting of a significant portion of a nuclear reactor core due to inadequate cooling of the fuel elements, a condition that could lead to an escape of radiation.
2. (Informal) A disastrous or rapidly developing situation likened to the melting of a nuclear reactor core.
3. (Informal) An emotional breakdown.

My definition:
1. My six and eight year old sons attempting to do homework while tired and hungry at 6:00pm in the evening.
2. My reaction to said sons.

The hours between 8:40 am and 3:30 pm (a.k.a. “bliss”) go by like a flash. It’s a cruel joke. The time after school and before dinner seems to be the longest few hours of my day. When I see the big yellow bus pull in front of the house, I begin to twitch. They exit the bus and descend on the house, dare I say, like locusts. Ravenous and frenzied, I am amazed how two children can go in several directions at once. Both of them telling me about their day – at the same time – seemingly unaware that the other is also speaking. “Can I go? Can I do? Can I have?” is all I seem to hear except, of course, for the other more popular mantra, “Mom… Mom… Mom…”

Knowing they are starving, I offer healthy snacks of fruit to which I get arguments and pleadings for cookies. Many times I relent knowing that just the crinkling sound of the Chips Ahoy package will be enough music to soothe the savage beast. Ahh, but I always seem to forget about the sugar rush that follows.

There have been some "expert" studies done recently that claim sugar doesn’t cause the hyperactivity and that it’s actually the excitement of the snack itself. I beg to differ. And I’d like to meet those so-called experts. I bet all my cookies they are childless.

The sugar rush eventually yields to a sugar crash. This special time – this special place in my life – I call HELL. Even Satan in his infernal lair is no match for a sugar-crashed first and third grader. Their power is too great. I become weaker by the moment and soon I, too, am delirious. I’m calling the boys by the dog’s name and vice versa. Still, I struggle through the backpacks and carefully lay out the homework for each child, calling to them to come and sit.

And so it begins. The whining. The crying. There seems to be no end to it. Homework? I might as well be hog-tying them while force-feeding spinach. It is officially meltdown time. OK, remain calm. It will do no good if we’re all screaming. They begin to yell over each other. I try to reason with them but they are now yelling over me as well. I am unable to complete a sentence. I feel a rush of heat rise from within my chest up my neck and into my brain. It is followed by an itch. My sons are giving me a rash (it is still uncertain whether this rash will be cured by Calamine lotion or college.)

My itch and my twitch cause a short circuit somewhere in my mind of reason. I begin to scream and yell threats of impending doom, violence and video game banishment. It is a bellow so powerful that the windows begin to shake. I have officially joined my sons in the meltdown. Clearly, this isn’t allowed. It’s in every piece of parenting literature you read. You can’t lose your cool. Who’s the child and who’s the adult? Again, obviously authored by people who don’t have kids. Read all you want, being a parent makes you certain of nothing – except, of course, that all those books I received at my baby shower will make for good fireplace kindling this winter.

It becomes evident, even to my kids, that my meltdown trumps theirs. They half-heartedly (and fearfully) find a seat at the table and begin to get to work. Say what you will, but it worked. Homework is getting done, dinner is getting cooked and all is right with the world.

If I were out in public berating my kids to this extent and at this volume, surely someone would call child services. What they don’t know is that I’d prefer they call the men with the little white coats… I sure as heck could use the break.

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