The crayon broke.
That’s all it took.
In between the anguish and and tears he said, “Mama fix Mama fix.”
We were out for dinner and the waitress had only left one coloring paper and one pack of crayons when his little sister reached out and snatched the crayon. She did it so roughly that it broke in two leaving a shocked Johnny holding only a piece of his crayon.
What happened next was a meltdown. He kept crying and pointing at his sister and saying “Baby broke…Mama fix”. We tried to replace it with another red crayon but that did not work because the other one was still broken.
We said we’d fix the crayon at home but that would only work for 3 minutes and we were back where we started from. We told him everything is okay and it wasnt his fault. We were back in the loop again.
We then asked if he needed a break and go for a walk before dinner comes. That seemed to get through to him for a moment and then we decided that we would not talk about the crayon any more. If he mentioned it again and started crying we would just calmly ask him if he wanted to go for a walk to feel better.
“Mama no. I want stay here.”
Moments like these we dread.
Moments like this we wish other loved ones would see so they would understand the difference between a tantrum, being just another 4 year old and what an Autistic meltdown looks like.
Johnny did self regulate and calm down and enjoy his dinner in the end. We were able to take a deep breathe and look at each other and share a look that meant “We are okay.”
Its amazing how something that seems so inconsequential can end up being so important for our little guy.
The next night we were at another restaurant and he accidentally knocked over his water glass while reaching for some food at the table. We told him it was an accident and it was okay. He thought about it and then asked for what he was reaching for. We were okay.