When I was 12 I lost my bus pass.
It was a weekday evening. I was in my room preparing my things for school the next day. I was putting my homework in my bag; generally preparing my stuff; and then I reached for where my bus pass usually was and…
It was horrible. That feeling in the pit of my stomach. Oh God. It’s gone.
Wait! – cried my inner sane person. You bussed home from school! And you are now home. Ergo…
It must be here!
But where? WHERE!? WHERE!!!! I need it and it’s totally gone!!!!
I proceed to completely lose my shit.
This starts by me being frozen momentarily in one place as my mind races trying to sort out where I might have put it. Blind panic; blind panic; blind panic.
Where did I see it last?
No idea. Oh God.
Then the crazed searching of everywhere – EVERYWHERE – begins.
The search is in no way logical. I pull books off shelves. Open drawers. Throw clothes everywhere in a rabid search of my room to find my elusive bus pass. The fact that this is JUST MY TOTALLY REPLACEABLE BUS PASS is completely lost on me. The monthly rate to replace it seems like more than I can part with. And I’ll have to find the time to get my photo redone; and I have a test in two days; and swim practice; and piano; and when on earth will I find time to do that and….
God! I still haven’t found it. My life is over. OVER! I scream in frustration. If anyone had tried at that moment to explain that, really, there are children starving somewhere and my sense of “what actually matters” was slightly out of whack, things might have gotten REALLY ugly.
My mother and brother arrive – having heard the scream. They aid in the search, expanding to other parts of the house I might have visited after school: the kitchen, the den, the dining room, the living room….
40 minutes later we find it. On my bed. Under my backpack. My mother repeats this story TO THIS DAY. I’ve never lived it down.
That time I lost my bus pass.
I’m (somewhat) better now at managing frustration – but when things go wrong, it’s really hard for me not to revert to the 12-year-old who just wants to lose her shit when things don’t go her way.
Sometimes I fail. And I lose it. And sometimes that’s in front of my kids. Because after a day of keeping it together while out and about, or at the office, it’s in the evening, at home, where I’m tired – and kinda done – that things start to go off the skids.
Basically, THAT’s when you lose your bus pass.
Not my best moments. Once I’ve found my phone, or my shoes, or my purse, or my shirt for the next day, or the bill that I just realized needs paying, or my keys (which, in my defence, have, in rare moments, actually been moved by child or spouse for whatever reason) I quickly feel bad. My three-year old even calls me out on it – which is good. I apologize. They tell me it’s okay.
But then I watch my three-year old daughter completely lose HER shit when she can’t find: her shoe, her bunny, her dolly, her purple shirt, her fairy, her ….
And she might as well be channelling me at my “I can’t find my bus pass!!” finest. While I know it’s partly personality (she’s mini me) I know she’s also learning by watching me and if I lose it when things don’t go my way, she thinks that’s an okay way to behave.
So this morning after a “bus pass” incident in the car involving the dropping of a Barbie Doll just out of reach (so NOT LOST, just NOT REACHABLE – but still resulting in COMPLETE MELTDOWN) my three-year old and I made a pact.
I explained to her that when we can’t find something, or things don’t go our way, we’re going to ask for help and try to figure out what we need without ending up in tears or yelling.
She considered my terms and we shook on it. So far today we’ve had one “Barbie out of reach” crisis handled rationally – so I’m hopeful that she’s committed to the process. I’ll let you know how it goes once my feet have been put to the fire.
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Clare Flourish said:
Lovely answer: breathe, ask for help rationally, deal with the situation. And- sometimes I have the feeling of being a full jug: any water added will spill. So my frustration seems completely disproportionate to the provoking problem. Straw that breaks the camel’s back.
I think what gets me most in these situations is the knowledge – as it’s happening – that my reaction is disproportionate. But it doesn’t stop that last drop of water (so to speak) making it all spill over).