Friday, April 22, 2011

Declaration of Independence, part 2

First catch up on Part 1.

One of the benefits of still living in this apartment is we can walk to the train station in about two minutes. This provides major entertainment value for a little boy. We go to the station to watch the trains - we used to do this with far greater frequency than we do now, but it's still a beloved pastime. Ryan loves the loud rumbling of the trains and the big whoosh when they rush past. Evening rush hour is the best time to visit the train station - you get the most trains per minute.

The other night Ryan was quite insistent that watching the trains was not enough, and instead he wanted to get on a train. I told him we were just there to watch, and maybe we could ride the train to the zoo tomorrow. Having no sense of time, he decided it was time to ride to the zoo right that minute, and he was having none of my the-zoo-is-closed-now crap.

"George couldn't wait to get on the train!" he quoted in anguish. (Ryan was unimpressed when I pointed out that when Curious George got on the subway without the Man in the Yellow Hat, he got lost and chaos ensued.)

Predictably, there was a tantrum. I was unimpressed. I called Stu to see if he was home from work yet (he was) and reported that as soon as the tantrum was over, we'd be heading home as well.

As soon as I hung up the phone, Ryan decided he needed to assert his independence from me. At the train station. During evening rush hour.

"Ryan got to ride the train, you go that way, Mommy."

I said no. In no uncertain terms, no.

This led to an epic meltdown which, for the first time I can remember, I was completely unable to control.

There were the predictable theatrics - throwing himself on the ground, screaming, crying, rivers of snot - but magnified beyond anything I was prepared to handle on a train platform. If this meltdown had happened at home, I could have pinned him down or covered him with a blanket and left him alone until he calmed down. But inches from train tracks, these are not options.

I knew I had to restrain him, because his impulse during meltdowns is to flail until he achieves self-injury. When I tried to pick him up, he flailed his skull into my nose hard enough that I felt compelled to check for blood.

We wrestled for several minutes. My first goal was to get him to the end of the platform, down the stairs to the parking lot. I would then have to get him across the parking lot, across the street, and across the other parking lot before we would get to a sidewalk where I could feel comfortable letting him thrash around without imminent danger of death.

I came to the humbling realization that I could not handle the situation on my own. I had to admit that I needed help.

I called Stu and told him to get his ass down to the train station, stat.

While Stu made his way to meet us, I somehow managed to get Ryan to that relatively-safe sidewalk; I don't really remember how that happened. When Stu arrived, armed with tissues and an amazing sense of calm, I walked away and cried.

I know things will get easier, because things are easier now than they were a year ago. But keeping both of us alive that evening was not easy.

And Ryan was really happy the next morning when he actually got to ride the train (and the bus!) to the zoo.

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Keep it civil, people.