Tonight Daniel had a full on melt down in public.
I could tell he was tired when he whined the full 10-minutes of the car journey from his school to Pizza Hut (ah yes, a good healthy meal to end the week on).
I’ve also been stung by a visit to Pizza Hut with the children before, so you think I would have learned my lesson.
I actually knew going out to eat was a Bad Idea.
I actually knew it and yet I still chose to ignore it.
Hmm. It is never ever ever a good idea to do anything – especially in public – when you have a tired child in tow. And so as we sat there with crayons in our mits and started a game of join the dots or something, Dan let’s me know that he’s so not happy with my gamesmanship.
I quote: “Waaaaaaaaaaah.”
Apparently I cheated. Oh this is so not going to be good.
“You are so cheating and confusing me and it’s just not fair for you to do that to me when I’m really young and you know more things that me and how to play them better than me and I’m never going to win anything ever again and . . . . waaaaaaaaaaaaah.”
Each and every single word of that joined-up ramble was littered with spittle and bits of food and punctuated with fists banged on the table.
Plus he’s wearing the most heartbreaking face I’ve ever seen.
I don’t know whether to tell him off, hug him or run away.
No amount of reasoning or comforting or wiping of tears is working.
“Dan,” I say, “I don’t understand why you would get so upset by a game, buddy. It’s not like you.”
Then his face totally crumbles.
“Please don’t hate me mummy. I’m so sorry for being horrible to you. Please please don’t hate me. I’m so worried you’ll hate me now.”
Ok now I’m worried and now I’m on the verge of crying myself.
WHAT IN GOD’S NAME IS GOING ON?
And then it comes pouring out of him like an unchecked torrent of emotion. The floodgates are open and there’s more snot, tears and bits of crispy potato wedges coming my way.
“Oliver hates me.” (I have no idea who Oliver is). “He calls me names and says I’m an idiot and won’t let me play with Tom.”
Really I have no idea who these children are. Did he move to a new classroom without telling me?
“You should just stay away from children like that Dan,” I soothe.
“It doesn’t matter what they say or what they think of you, I’m telling you that none of it is true.”
He calms down a little. He looks so vulnerable and utterly adorable sat there all dishevelled and tearstained and sniffing. I’m thinking ‘who is this little sod making my son’s life an utter misery?’ I’m having visions of him being bullied of being picked on all through school. I’m thinking how I want to protect my little man without undermining his kudos in the playground.
And I’m thinking who am I’m going to have to shout at on Monday morning to sort this out.
Then in the calmest, sweetest voice to ever come out of his mouth, as if the past 10 minutes were merely a figment of my imagination, he says: “are we still going shopping for my Indiana Jones Lego tomorrow, mummy?”
* Originally posted on June 20, 2008.