i said good night to my daughter when she went to bed and headed to my room to catch up on some CSI: Miami. a few minutes later i hear crying. not just that sniffling, wipe-your-nose-on-your-shirt kind. this was racking sobs.
i walk back into my girl’s room and she’s shaking with tears. crying into her pillow.
so i sit on her bed and say, “talk to me. what’s the matter?”
and this is what i get in a sup-supping wail….
“I’M A SHELL OF MY FORMER SELF!”
double yoo tee eff????
“what are you talking about?”
i finally dig out of her that the boy she has a crush on is crushing on her best friend. ouch. her first broken heart. poor baby.
i sympathize and console and hug and pet and then i tell her….
“baby, there’s something very important you need to remember.”
“what’s that, mama?”….
i’m a shell of my former self? at 10? kill me now.
sorry boys, most girls come hard wired as emotional beings. my daughter is now 12 and it’s like living under the same roof with a grenade since she’s started going through the big “P”. she screams, she cries, she giggles like a loon, she eats chocolate by the case. there are times when i’m convinced i need to call an exorcist because i look in those eyes and i’m not sure she’s even there anymore…”BUT MOM!!! I HAD TO PUNCH HIM! I COULDN’T HELP IT!” her brother is already a master at the skills i’m going to teach you today.
i tell you all this stuff that my daughter will hold against me for years to come for a reason. there’s hope. but you must proceed very cautiously when dealing with a woman who is the grip of an emotional meltdown. kind of like james bond disarming a bomb. do it right, you get to live and you get the girl.
- stay calm – i cannot stress this enough. deep breaths, relaxed posture, mental Prozac. if you get worked up, it will affect her like a nitrous boost for your racing Honda.
- do not interrupt – if she’s on a roll, let her run. no matter how much sense she’s not making. if you try to interject/defend/explain/respond, she will just keep going, get louder, cry harder and start to resemble a character out of Shutter Island.
- ask her if she wants you to say anything – once she runs down, gently ask if she wants you to respond to anything she just said. sometimes the answer will be no. count yourself lucky and let it go. if the answer is yes….
- stay practical – regardless of whether her issue is with you or the rest of the world, keep it simple and without emotion. if you can find a way to insert a little humor to put things in perspective for her, even better. getting her to smile is like throwing baking soda on a grease fire.
- know when to cut and run – if her issue is with you (reasonable or not) and she has gone past that point of no return into crazy town, it’s time to cut your losses. get her attention, look her in the eye and with a very slight smile on your face and easiness in your voice, tell her that you want to have this conversation but that you think it’s best to wait until “you both” are calm and can really get it figured out. it might win you the Emmy for best male performance in a drama. this will give her the opportunity to come to her senses and probably realize she was being a lunatic. it will also give you time to sort out if anything in that verbal mess was a legit issue.
once you learn how to diffuse the situation, your girl will eventually learn that she gets much farther with you when she calms down. she may even develop some self control; begin to let you know up front that she’s not in a place where she can be reasonable and to give her some space until she pulls herself together. respect that and know that it’s not about needing to be away from you but more about giving herself a moment to make sure she’s no longer bat $#!+ crazy.