The Meltdown

Today capped Homecoming week at the university, and it was indeed a good week.

The banners, creatively painted by the students, that hang from the campus buildings and football stadium gates. The office decorating contests. The announcements of the Homecoming royalty and the grand marshal. The hilarity and musical talent that fills the Variety Show. The old-fashioned parade through town. And, of course, the football game -- which, this year, featured our mighty ’Cats, after a tough loss to another highly ranked conference rival three weeks ago, knocking off the No. 3 team in the country -- by an easy 52-28, I might add -- and, thus, keeping their playoff hopes alive.

There is an energy and spirit around The ‘Ville during Homecoming week that is like no other. Check out the marching band's performance of the "Party Rock Anthem" during halftime of the football game. ...

Except, this year’s Homecoming will best be remembered by what we’ll call “The Meltdown.”

As I’ve stated in previous posts, we enrolled Phoebe in dance classes this fall. She’s enjoying it, and it’s created some good mother-daughter bonding moments as her and Kates attend the classes each Thursday evening. … Recently, with the Homecoming approaching, the kiddos had been practicing two or three times a week to prepare their routine for the Homecoming parade. Kates also had to buy Phoebe a specific outfit and a special purple bow. An investment of time and money had been made.

So today was the big day. The parents were given explicit instructions to have the kids to the starting point at 8:30 a.m., and the parade was to begin at 9 a.m.

We were out of bed in plenty of time. Kates and I got ourselves dressed and ready. Phoebe, on the other hand, was stalling and refusing to get dressed.

At 8:25, “The Meltdown” began. Phoebe. would. not. get. dressed.

There was kicking, crying and horrific screaming. She rolled herself into the corner of her bedroom and wouldn’t let us touch her. After all of the preparation and excitement, it had come to this? Kates and I didn’t understand, and nothing we said consoled Phoebe.

As far as we could tell, this tantrum came down to her not wanting to wear the bow in her hair. Seriously.

Finally, at around 8:50, something clicked, and Phoebe allowed us to get her dressed. At about 8:55, we’re charging to our car and getting Phoebe buckled in her seat. At about 8:57, I’m speeding down the street toward the meeting place. And at about 8:59, I’m dropping Kates and Phoebe off on the side of the road so they can look for the rest of the girls. … I won’t soon forget the image, as I pulled away in the car, of Kates walking briskly toward a parking lot and holding Phoebe’s hand, while Phoebe stumbled a step or two behind Kates without really knowing what just happened.

Ah, but the best was yet to come.

I ended up returning home and parked the car in our garage; our house is close enough to the parade route and the campus that I could park the car and walk to the parade in less time than it would have taken me to find a parking place in the surrounding neighborhood.

About 10 minutes later, shortly after I settled on a place to watch the parade, I received a text from Kates. She and Phoebe couldn’t find the group, and decided to walk back to our house.

I stayed where I was and continued watching the parade.

About an hour or so later, as the parade was nearing its end, the girls from Phoebe’s dance studio passed in front of me. … It was the cruelest ending to the morning’s storm. I chuckled and sent a text to Kates, who was less than pleased. Considering the time we parted, Phoebe easily could have made the parade had they found the group.

After the parade, I returned home, where Phoebe had returned to her happy-go-lucky-self.

Some day we’ll look back at this and laugh, right?

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