The Meltdown


I could feel it coming on a few days prior to the actual event.  There was a subtle shift in the air, a feeling of repetition that caught us all off guard.


After nearly three months of pajama walks, swimming, and nature hunts around town, suddenly we were thrown into the system.  Out of nowhere, it seemed, the mornings became rushed, the meals became a project, and late became a bad word (not good news for this terminally late mommy)…


The excitement of the first week got us off to a great start.  Wrapped up in new adventures, we quickly made our way down the street each morning to see what awaited in Kindergarten.  With hugs and kisses and smiles galore we said our goodbyes for the morning.


For a few days, it seemed almost too good to be true.  While I held back tears almost every morning, my sweet girl didn’t shed a single tear.  She was brave, strong, and independent.


Until the weekend.


Until she had time to lounge around in her beloved pajamas while eating fresh baked pumpkin spice donuts with her daddy.  Until she didn’t have to race, didn’t have to remember anything, and didn’t have to leave baby brother behind again.  Until she could get back to the business of playing.


Suddenly, the new adventure didn’t seem quite so new and exciting anymore.


Suddenly, she felt trapped between two worlds.  Her mood shifted ever so slightly that day.  By dinnertime, she was lost in thought and stared off to a faraway place.


Under the cover of darkness, she finally broke her silence.


I really love my Kindergarten class, but I miss being home.  It’s so busy and fast, and I don’t get to play with baby brother in the morning.


I sat quietly, waiting for her to finish.


This is a big change, sweet girl.  Five days is more than three, and we had a fun summer together, us three.  We stayed in our pajamas and baked cookies and swam almost every day.  This is a big change.


Her espresso colored eyes appeared large and rimmed with worry.  She stared back at me, waiting for more.


I am proud of you every single day.  We miss you too, sweet girl.  But you know what the best part of my day is?  Hearing all about your morning while we hold hands the whole way home. 


Satisfied, she closed her eyes and slowly drifted off to sleep.  Our hands still entwined, I kneeled by her bed and watched her for a little while, until I could be sure that her worries were gone.


Three days later, the tears rained down like a waterfall…


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About Katie

Katie Hurley is a Child, Adolescent, and Family Psychotherapist and Parenting Expert in Los Angeles, CA. She works in private practice in the South Bay area of Los Angeles, writes for PBS Parents, Washington Post Parents, and the Huffington Post. She is the author of "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World" (Tarcher/Penguin, 2015) and "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" (Penguin Random House, 2018)