Tonight, we witnessed a Greyson meltdown. We are fortunate that he doesn’t grace us with these very often, but when he does his lung capacity is on full and impressive display. In nuclear terms, this meltdown ranked somewhere between Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. We had just finished dinner and were trying to finish our nightly half-hour allotment of adult television while Greyson played with his toys. The time was 7:45, a full 30 minutes before his bedtime, but he had slept poorly this afternoon and suddenly decided to let us know exactly how he felt about his poorly funded sleep bank.
Greyson howled in frustration, indignant and inconsolable. His body tensed up and his eyes became dark thunderclouds. So I did what has become common practice in our house when our son is fussy (or in this case, furious). I scooped him up and walked toward the front door. It was time to put my theory to the ultimate test.
As Greyson continued to writhe in my arms, I opened the door and stepped outside into the peaceful twilight air. And roughly ONE SECOND after crossing the threshold, my wailing son was rendered silent and awestruck. Eyes wide. Body relaxed. Not a peep.
I placed him on the grass and sat down across from him, both of us barefoot, as I stared intently at his face. He sat there perfectly still, utterly reverent as he observed the sights and sounds of the evening: cars humming past on our country road, birds warbling from their perches high above, a neighbor tinkering in his driveway. Sometimes Greyson would narrate the action with monosyllabic whispers (“buh,” “muh”). When the action subsided for a moment, he gently picked up and examined a small stick. Later he taste-tested a crunchy leaf.
For fifteen minutes Greyson and I sat like this — me regarding him, he regarding the world — as dusk softly descended upon us. Whatever mortal injustice had afflicted him within the four walls of our living room somehow ceased to exist out here in the undomesticated expanses of the universe.
And so it was that I took the next decisive step toward empirically proving my most staunchly held theory, and my most satisfying discovery, of fatherhood:
8 out of 10 baby meltdowns can be defused by simply walking out the door.
(But you have to bring the baby.)