Massive Preteen Meltdowns: A Preparation Guide

This isn’t really a preparation guide. I lured you here under false pretenses. Kind of like when you buy a parenting book, desperate for a comprehensive, easy-reference handbook on raising children, and then you get, oh, forty-five minutes into the parenting gig and figure out that the “how-to” guides are all crap. And then you’re left picking up the pieces and writing your own manual, except you have to write a different one for each child because God is super funny and makes them all different. Ha ha, God. Good one.

I shall rename this post immediately.

Massive Preteen Meltdowns:
Anything you can do, I have done better.
Bring it, baby.
Bring. It.

Massive preteen meltdowns come and go. But right now, we’re in the throes of more coming and a lot less going.

In fact, when Massive Preteen Meltdowns arrived at our door several months ago, I laughed.

“Hey! I’ve seen you before,” I said. “How long do you think you’ll be staying?”

“Whatever,” said Massive Preteen Meltdowns. “I don’t answer to you.”

And that, sadly, seems to be true. Who’s laughing now? (Well, still me, but that’s only because I have a serious problem with laughing.)

I don’t know why preteens must over-react to every little thing. (I do. It’s because of the raging hormones and the utter lack of sense and experience. But I like pretending like I don’t know why. It makes exasperation easier.)

Kids these days. Sheesh! (See? Easy.)

I mean, sure; I might’ve had my own epic, toddler-style meltdown at age twelve. An hours-long crying and screaming fit while ensconced in my dark bedroom. But that was for a legitimate reason.

See, I had a science project due the next day. And I’d only had the assignment for, like, five weeks. And my dad said – and I’m not even kidding, he really did – that he couldn’t help me because I didn’t plan ahead and there wasn’t enough time to conduct six experiments AND write a paper all in one night. Which is ridiculous because my parents always told me we could do anything we put our minds to and that they’d always have my back NO MATTER WHAT, so they were two-faced meanies who hated me and wanted me to suffer and die, and if I DID die, which was very likely because I skipped ALL OF DINNER and – hello! impending 7th grade science DOOM – well, then that would show them, SO THERE! Take THAT, Mom and Dad!

But my kids are totally lucky and have extremely reasonable parents who only ask them to do logical things. So it’s important that you understand that when I’m complaining about my son’s complaining, it’s because I’m so mature and right.

Yesterday, I told my 12-year-old son that he must (yes, MUST) clean his room.

“By myself?” he asked, incredulously.

“Um, yeah.”

My son found a chair and slumped down upon it because his legs were simply unable to support him in the face of such terrible news.

And he buried his face in his hands and began to implore the Heavens,

“Why? Oh, WHY? Oh, WWWHHHHHYYYYY?!” Which also rhymes with die. Which is clearly what this child intended to communicate with his rampant why-ning.

Puh-lease, child.

You have nothing on me.

My preteen meltdowns were the impetus behind the development of the Meltdown Geiger Counter by which all modern mamas measure whether this meltdown will, in fact, liquefy mama flesh while it’s still on the mama bones.

Holding your head and rocking in room-cleaning despair? Oh, baby; you’re not even making the screen blip.

And when I said, “Oh, nuh uh. You do not get to whine because you must clean your room. Let me tell you, child, that cleaning your room is like wiping your butt. No one enjoys it, and it stinks like that sippy cup of milk we left too long in the van, but we somehow dig down deep and get it done. Which is what you will do. Right. Now.” … you actually stopped complaining and you cleaned your room.

Which just goes to show, you are a meltdown novice, son.

But hear this:

I believe in you.

And I am prepared for the day when you earn your Massive Preteen Meltdown chops. Since Massive Preteen Meltdown seems to be making himself at home, I’m betting we’re both about to get plenty of practice.

Bring it, Preteen.

Image credit: Bougart at deviantART


Bring. It.


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17 responses to “Massive Preteen Meltdowns: A Preparation Guide”

  1. Males will always feel like this about cleaning, and nothing but this type of training will cure us of it. One time my mother was away for a week when I was about this age, and without her vigilance, my room looked like a terrorist had planted a bomb in my dresser. But she eventually got the message through. In college, I could tell who’d never lifted a hand to clean anything for himself: I had a college friend who didn’t understand why one needed 2 sets of sheets, since he didn’t realize that one was supposed to wash sheets (this was February of our Freshman year). I had a room mate in London who hardly bathed and or laundered for 3 months (son of one of the professors…) who decided which pair of underwear to wear by seeing which ones had the fewest skidmarks.

    Keep fighting the good fight, meltdowns be darned. As a teacher, I appreciate it and it shows in the classroom. I hope I’m as strong in the face of this when Leigh’s that age.

  2. haha you crack me up. this gives me inspiration for the years ahead!! LOL. also, i like the idea of sending our preteens to you when they get to that age. after all, you’ll have had so much more experience than the rest of us. it will be a piece of cake for you and you can send them back home after you’ve cracked the whip and successfully brought them through adolescence. 😉

    • (continued from above)



      NO MORE PRETEENS. At least, no more that I didn’t sign up for.

      Whatever I’ve done to give you the mistaken impression that I know what I’m doing… or that they’re (God forbid) HAPPY with me… I take it all back.

      All of it.


  3. You are so brilliant!!!! I’m going to send you my 2 preteen boys, please whip them into shape! :0) They will be the 2 red heads on your doorstep with scowls who do not like each other. I thing they will do great with you!

  4. Ugh! All too familiar a post although I have now passed into the teen meltdowns while girding myself for another one to enter the preteen meltdown phase. The teen is a girl (15) and the preteen is a boy (13). The hormones alone on the girl are enough to drive me up a wall but now all the testosterone in the boy is kicking in and we have a house ooozing hormones. The 7 year old boy and 5 year old twin girls have become adept at taking cover at the appropriate moments while my husband and I dole out the punishments or commandments, whatever the case may be. We can only hope that the little ones are watching and learning but I believe that is a false hope. Our junior high principal on orientation night put it very succinctly when he said, “In 7th, 8th and 9th grade, you as parents will do fine if you remember one thing. And that is, there is a whole lot of development going on from the neck down with your teen and little to none going on from the neck up!” Dead on! Now, if only we can survive until then! Keep the faith sister!

    • How bad is it that I laughed most uproariously at false hope?

      I, too, have these fits of disillusionment. It’s simply impossible to imagine my 5 year olds morphing so majestically into preteen-ness. I know in my head it’ll happen, but I think there’s some kind of biological bypass system that doesn’t allow that information to bleed into my heart. I think this is better for everyone. 🙂

      And so we soldier on another day – and I say false hope is good enough. 😀

  5. It is nice to know I am not alone. However, I am not sure who is having a bigger meltdown, My preteen orMe responseding to said meltdown.

  6. We had the female version of Massive Preteen Meltdown come over for a visit recently. She stayed ALL WEEKEND. How one little girl can be so graceful and elegant on minute then sobbing, kicking & screaming the next I’ll never know (I agree, it does make it easier to play ignorant here.). Comforting to know I’m not alone in the battle! Rock on, Mama!

  7. Brilliant! I laughed out loud several times whilst reading this. Favourite lines include “My son found a chair and slumped down upon it because his legs were simply unable to support him in the face of such terrible news” and “it stinks like that sippy cup of milk we left too long in the van” (I’m with you there; I once left a baby bottle containing a leftover inch of milk at a teenage piano pupil’s house – he returned it to me two weeks later without rinsing it out, and you can imagine the rest). Beth, you’re hilarious. I too have a problem with laughing at inappropriate moments, and working as a teacher has not helped with my problem one little bit. Regrettably.

    Well done on getting the room cleaned. You’re an inspiration. Keep going and keep laughing.


    • YAY! Fiona, I love that you tell me which parts you like. Since I write without an editor, it’s SUCH helpful feedback. I suppose it would be helpful feedback if you also told me which parts are terrible, but I like your way better.

      Also, on milk? Yes. And laughter? Yes.

      Glad to have you along for mama solidarity.

      xxxxx (I tried 3 x’s – that wasn’t good)

  8. We have zero tolerance around here for hissy fits. But I do have two very strong-emotion children. They are currently 9 (boy) and 4 (girl). My family has nicknamed me Madea and they are all taking bets to see how my kids are going to turn out. : )

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