The road trip, the meltdown and the crying

I have taken the loss of my Grandfather harder than anticipated and haven’t felt much like writing.  I realize that the fact he was in his 80s should have had me more prepared, but I wasn’t.  The delayed wake and funeral really compounded that for me. It was 5 days from the night he died before the wake.  Our family does 8 hours at the funeral home for the viewing on Thursday and the funeral was the following day.  Mickey, my dad, my brother and I drove up to Indiana very early Thursday morning. In our infinite wisdom, we made the questionable choice to take my mother’s car – that can’t be eaten or drank in on the trip.  I would not make that choice again – Mickey is at his calmest while snacking.  We have taken 7 road trips of a duration of about 7 hours each this year.  We have mastered the trip, but it involves a snack bag….

Minnie stayed home to take care of her Grandma, and she rocked that.  Mickey handled the viewing and funeral well – even the 21 gun salute (though he covered his ears, he didn’t scream or melt down).  I served as a pallbearer with the other grandchildren.  It was a lovely and heartbreaking service.  Mickey avoided the open casket, but all in all did well.

The trip home was less successful, as Grandpa was in a hurry to get home and opted to skip dinner.  So, Mickey was out of routine, functioning on about 5 hours less sleep than normal, couldn’t snack except at restroom stops and was forced to skip dinner.  This was a bad idea, but still Mickey did okay.

Saturday is when it fell apart.  After getting home at around midnight – a whopping 4+ hours past bedtime, Mickey was suffering from being down almost 10 hours of sleep, 14+ hours in the car and coming off of two emotionally charged days.   We went to our morning ballet class, and while a bit crankier than usual, nothing was out of control.  But, by Nutcracker rehearsal that afternoon, there were signs of problems.  I foolishly ignored those signs.

I dropped the kids at Nutcracker, but had to go back home for Minnie’s forgotten dance bag.  I was gone 14 minutes when the studio owner called to tell me that mickey had melted down.  I had no details, but I was only about 3 minutes away.  Mickey was running around the parking lot, heading for a highway and screaming at me.  There were people everywhere and I was a mess.  The owner has known Mickey for 4 years, but had never dealt with this before (he had seen it when Mickey was younger, but I was there to deal with it).  I had never left Mickey at the studio before, though I regularly drop Minnie.  This is why I don’t usually leave him.

I got him calm, but we had to sit in the car for another hour while Minnie finished rehearsal.  Let me just say, that I screwed up in multiple ways that day.  I sometimes forget that even when he is doing well, things have to be a certain way.  He can overcome a few changes, but not so much when everything is off.  I pushed him too far out of his zone and expected him to bounce back too quickly.  I also know I shouldn’t have left.  I can almost always diffuse the explosion, or at least remove him before it gets that bad.  But, live and learn – next time Minnie does without her ballet shoes or remembers her bag.

But, tonight we had to go back to the studio so that Minnie could attend her two classes.  Mickey asked the studio owner if he could talk to him for a minute.  He proceeded to apologize for his behavior and being disrespectful.  He then thanked him for trying to help him, even when Mickey wasn’t being very nice. Then he asked whether he thought it was a good idea for him to continue in the Nutcracker and told him he would respect whatever decision was made.  I have to say, I beamed with pride – I really hadn’t seen him take responsibility, initiate an apology and thank someone for trying to help before.  Mickey loves dance and loves Nutcracker and he really wants to keep doing it, but whatever the motivation, I was very impressed.

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