Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

It’s Been A While – A Meltdown Story December 4, 2018

Sometimes an old emotion that you had packed away neatly finds its way out of the dusty bin and settles once again in your heart. When that happens, it doesn’t feel like a long-lost friend. It feels like an intruder; one you don’t care for but have to accommodate nonetheless. It’s an intruder that you know well, so even though you don’t want them there, you don’t freak out when they show up, you just do what needs to be done so they can be sent away again.


The morning started off like most other mornings. Alarms go off. People get themselves ready for the day. For some it’s school; others work. There’s a little chit-chat. Well, less “chit-chat” and more “requests” – Can I have money for the book fair? Do I really need to go to choir practice? Can you make me some tea please? Can I sit in the front seat?

No. Yes. No and no.


Things took a turn when Jay and I got to the door of his school and he realized he had left his glasses at home. For the first time in a long time I saw the swirling torrent of a melt-down heading our way. I tried to get ahead of it. I spoke calmly. I offered to bring his glasses for him at lunch time. He would not hear any of it. His mind had already gone to a place that blocks out reason. A before-care staff member came and tried to assist. At this point we are blocking the door. Through stiff, clipped words and with his entire body shaking, Jay told him that he couldn’t go inside because the other kids would make fun of him. (I’m not sure why he thought that). The staff member said all the right things. “I’m sure that won’t happen. But if it does, you come to me and I’ll deal with it.” None of that appeared to register with Jay.

Just then, a teacher, who I didn’t know, but who obviously knew Jay came in. She suggested that he go to see Ms F and take a minute in her room to calm himself. (Ms F is the autism resource teacher who was our lifeline during his transition to this school 3 years ago and who Jay loves but no longer really gets to spend much time with since he’s fully mainstreamed now).

The teacher sent me on my way, told me that everything would be fine and assured me that they would call if necessary.


We hadn’t had a school drop off like that in YEARS. I got to work still a little raw from it. Mostly I was worried that this rough start to the day would mean a rough ALL DAY for Jay and by extension, all the other students and teachers he had to interact with. Throughout the day, I kept expecting my phone to ring.


I didn’t have much appetite and it took a lot of energy to focus on my actual work.

When I picked him up, he came bounding up to me with a big smile. I asked him how his day had been and he said it was great. Gingerly, I asked him about the morning. Specifically, I asked him what happened when he went to Ms F’s classroom.


I don’t know how they do it, but special education teachers are magical. At least, the ones we’ve had. I cannot overstate how much they have taught me or how much I respect them.

Ms F apparently gave him a quiet spot to sit for a minute. Then she asked him what was making him so upset. Then she took her glasses off and put them in a bag and told him that they would be the “no glasses for a day” team.

That’s all it took. He went to his own class and proceeded to have a great day.


Where earlier my heart had been full of worry; in that moment, it was full of wonder and appreciation.


Goodbye old companion – All day anxiety caused by meltdowns.  Your visit was short and not sweet. This wasn’t even a bad storm.  A drizzle really.  But man, it’s in these moments that I am forced to remember and truly appreciate just how far we are now from the years when meltdown hurricanes were a nearly daily occurrence.


Morning Turn Around November 22, 2013

I had planned to fore-go teacher/therapist/aide/bus driver/crossing guard gifts this year because money is tighter than ever.  But ya know what … I just can’t do it.  For the simple reason that, through token gifts and hand-written notes, I get to say thank you to the people who don’t even know how much better they make my life.


This morning, Jay drank all his milk, then picked up Ace’s cup and began drinking that one also.  Ace was on top of him in a flash taking his cup back.

While this was happening, I was wondering why the jackets that I had taken off the hooks and laid on the couch were right where I had left them and not on the backs of my children.

When Jay realized he was not going to get Ace’s cup, he handed me his cup and said “Up milk“.  That meant he was asking for a refill.  As in, “Mom, please fill back up my cup with milk“.

I let him know there was no time for that and he needed to put his coat on because his bus would be coming soon.

With a frown and some grumbling he followed my instructions and we went out to meet the bus.  When the bus pulled up, Jay was still frowning and grumbling but the bus driver and his aide both greeted my boy with bright smiles and warm hellos.  They were not at all phased by his attitude.  I saw a smile start to crack on his face and then he softly asked “Time for Miss A?”  (His teacher).  I said yes and then he said “OK, nice“.  I asked him if he liked Ms A and he said he did, then he gave me a kiss and got onto the bus.


Everyone who makes life happier for my son does so not because they have to or because it’s their job.  From his teachers to his bus drivers to his after care aides – They make his life better because they choose to.  Being cheerful in the face of a grumpy child is a choice.  Being loving and staying calm while a kid is yelling or throwing things is a choice – and these people do it everyday and I appreciate them for that.  Just by making the choice to stay positive, they have the ability to turn my sons morning around and that allows me to go to work secure in the knowledge that my son feels happy and feels safe and is surrounded by nice people.