Saturday started out just like any other Saturday, accept for the fact that Jason had to go to work. Willy I had a bunch of errands to run together, and most of them were in the mall. So we took advantage of our spare time together, and had some fun.
Willy is my best bud. He’s my partner in crime, and my most favorite shopping companion… sometimes.
We started off our shopping excursion at the shoe store. He desperately needed new shoes, because THE BOY JUST WON’T STOP GROWING! When we got there, the mall had just opened so there were very few people around, but the children’s shoe store was hopping! There were only two women working there and of course they were already helping out other patrons. So I took it upon myself to get the measuring thingy (yes it’s a word… okay it’s not) and measure both of my son’s HUGE, double wide, feet. Willy was doing okay with waiting, but I knew that if I didn’t act fast, it would all go to hell in a hand basket, so when one of the sales girls was about to go into the back of the store, I bumbarded her with a shoe that I liked and asked her to come back with the size that I needed. She almost looked insulted, but when your child has raging ADHD and anxiety due to the ADHD, you do what you can in order to get in and out in one piece.
Are you following me here?
He tried the shoes on, walked around in them, decided that he liked them, and we bought them. Okay… one errand done, three to go. We went to “Build-a-Bear” next and luckily, it was right next door to the shoe store. I promised my son that if he was a good boy, he could make a bear as well. In case you don’t know what “Build-a-Bear” is, it’s a store that allows you make your own teddy bear. It’s adorable.
First, Willy picked out a bear skin for himself, and the other one was a gift for a friend. Next we went over to the stuffing station where my son picked out two hearts (one for each bear) and made a special wish for each of them. I watched proudly as the girl who worked there asked Willy to do various things, like kiss the heart, jump twice, spin around once, hold it to his heart, etc. in order to ensure that the bear’s wishes came true. Once my son carefully placed the hearts inside the bears skin, it was time to stuff the bear.
Willy was excited to see what was coming next. He was told to place his foot on a little medal pedal and hold it there until she told him to “stop.” So, he did exactly what she asked him to do. Unfortunately, the stuffing machine makes the exact same sound as the vacuum, and Willy immediately took his foot off the pedal. He froze. Then he yelled out “all done.” and proceeded to back away from the stuffing machine as quickly as he could, shaking the whole time. Since we hadn’t finished our gift, I took Willy by the hand and i asked him to help me pick out an outfit for both bears, but by then, Willy had lost it. He was antsey, anxious, upset, and slowly unraveling before my eyes.
I picked him up and held him close to me, and that seemed to help for a minute or two, but he was getting heavy and I couldn’t hold him for much longer. I sat him on the counter so I could pay for the bears, and the incredible sales girl dressed both bears at lightening speed. By now Willy was crying and there was nothing I could do to sooth him, so I held him close to me.
As we left the store, I decided that it was time to go home. My poor boy had had enough and needed to “decompress.” I held his hand tightly, because I cold feel the tension all over his body. As we made our way across the mall, I made the mistake of asking him if he was hungry, and that one, little, tiny, question had pushed him completely over the edge.
He flopped on the floor in the mall and refused to get up. He was crying hysterically. I asked him nicely to get up twice, but he yelled “no” both times and just fell apart, kicking his legs wildly. My right hand/arm was holding my purse, two “Build-a-Bear” boxes, and the shoe store bag. My left hand was all that I had, so I tried to pick up my son, but he was just too heavy. I couldn’t. I silently started to panic. I didn’t know what to do. So, I did what I had to do. I asked him again to get up, and when he refused, I yanked him up with my free hand and we walked through another store in order to get to the car.
Willy walked angrily; stomping heavily with each step. I complimented him on doing a nice job walking, but I should’ve kept my fat trap shut, because he flopped again, and again. Each time I asked him to get up, he yelled and fought harder, despite all of the bundles in my right hand. Inside I was dying. The mall was much busier now, and there were people everywhere. People were watching me struggle with a child that had completely lost it, and… not one person offered to helped me. I was almost on the verge of tears, but I held it together, praying to God that I didn’t run into anyone that I knew.
With one last yank, I dragged my son several feet to a vestibule with a bench, and I figured that was a safe place to let him finish out his meltdown. I sat down on the bench and put my bundles down. Willy was still in mid meltdown, and I had moved his body so he wouldn’t be in anyone’s way. A large group of people came in and I over-heard them whispering to each other about the “spoiled brat” that was having a tantrum on the floor. I bit my tongue and decided to not say anything, because clearly they didn’t get what was happening. Nobody did.
Willy eventually calmed down, and we went to the car, where he continued to whimper and cry the rest of the way. When we got home, he immediately crawled onto the couch with his new teddy bear and zoned out in front of the t.v.. His melt down lasted a total of 15 minutes, but it felt a lot longer. I was a wreak, but what troubled me the most, was that people looked at my little boy as a spoiled brat, and not as a kid just having an anxiety attack! That entire meltdown happened because the stuffing machine in Build-a-Bear scared him, and the fact that we couldn’t leave the store when he wanted to, caused an anxiety attack.
(sigh) I didn’t know that the machine would make as much noise as it did, and it’s been a dream of mine for a long time to take him there and make a bear with him… and the whole thing blew up in both of our faces. My poor baby lost control in public, which hasn’t happened in a long, long time. It killed me. It really really did. I was struggling and nobody cared enough to ask me if I was alright or if I needed help. Well you know what? I wasn’t alright, and I did need help.
There is no moral to this story, just a lesson learned. If you are somewhere and see a child having a meltdown, take a look at the parent/caregiver. If they look like they are struggling, ask them if they need your assistance. I can bet you anything that they’ll gladly accept your help. Keep in mind that this is most likely their way of life, but just asking someone if they would like “help” can really make or break someone’s outlook on life in that exact moment.