Posted by: Patti Dickinson | 08/03/2015

It all began with “Meltdown Monday”


88342047In Dickinson lore, the first ever Meltdown Monday occurred about thirteen years ago.  Kathleen walked into her first day of high school at Bishop Miege only to find that she had been placed in a sophomore math class.  Claire, her savvy sophomore sister, walked her to the door of the classroom and said, “Go.  Sit next to ______, she’ll take care of you.”  Then turned on her heel and made a quick exit.  Yeah, we all knew the meltdowns that Kathleen was capable of.  Claire wanted no part of that.

Thus was born the phrase “Meltdown Monday”.  Now we call any calamity or disaster that. Even if it’s a Tuesday or Friday.  Meltdown Monday is Dickinson-ese for an “ohhhh no”, the wheels just fell off the day.

And then we began to see a pattern.  There were categories for these meltdowns.  One for generalized life issues:  whether Kathleen should go straight from Knox College to Chicago to “ta da” her way into some work as a Stage Manager.  That decision was talked through with Wood.  NCLEX jitters?  That one was for me.  Calmly talk Mary, right out of Regis University Nursing School into believing in herself.  “You can do this.  You know this stuff backwards and forwards, now go and pass the test.”  She did.  The first time.  Boyfriend issues?  Wood gets those.  Maybe it’s because we have a half-dozen girls and they think that Wood can give them the male perspective, or maybe and more likely, they know that I will go into overdrive, throwing reason to the wind and going full-tilt with the emotional end of this, which is exactly what they don’t need.  From me or anyone else!  Money?  They call me, because I think I am the only one who knows the thirteen numbers/letters for the password, so that I can transfer funds.  Those calls usually come when the amount is two digits.  I’m talking the two digits after the decimal point!

We are pros at this, my husband and I.  Both of us can sense the beginnings of a meltdown, with the warble in the throat of the caller.  For some reason, the kids feel as though a hello is in order before the waterworks begin.

We make a good team, Wood and I.  The kids know that.  They know that there is always an answer to a problem, and that talking things out is a healthy way of dealing with what life throws their way.

Wood?  I can remember maybe a handful in our entire almost-four-decade marriage.  All of which were related to major MacIntosh failures, most of which involve Word.  Me?  Two meltdowns a week.  I believe that if I don’t reach that number, more than one person feels as though maybe I am doing a disconnect.  In other words, people are whispering, “Is she still in touch with reality?”

Most of my meltdowns are related to school issues.  It’s what I call “Compassion Fatigue”.  Wanting a kid to do better and seeing them fail.  That two steps forward, one step back.  Some days feel like sixty-three backwards steps.  Now that is a meltdown.  My colleague in alternative education and the school counselor both know when I am about to burst into tears.  Both give great hugs.  And there are days that I have melted into those hugs.  I also meltdown when I try and print something on one of the three printers we own and it won’t print.  On any of them.  And when Wood says, “Did you check to see if the printer is out of paper?” that just is the wrong thing to say.  I know, I know, this isn’t a meltdown, it’s more of a three-year-old temper tantrum.  As Wood scrambles to get something, anything to print, I pace the kitchen ranting and raving, throwing my hands around. But I am convinced, and no one can convince me otherwise, that the three printers hate me.

Mary and I were talking on the phone last night.  She’s a really funny kid.  A goofball through and through.  She said that we ought to redo our land line answering machine recording.  “Hello.  You have reached the Dickinson’s.  Press one for a meltdown with Mom, press two for a meltdown with Dad, press three for financial issues, press four for advice, press five for listening, not advising, press zero for the operator (or whoever is home and not too lazy to get off the couch and get to the phone).

Now that’s an idea.  And I am not giving out my phone number, it’s all we can do to handle the Dickinson kids’ problems!

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