Just last night, Hubby and I were commenting on how great the kids’ behavior has been the past few days. We had spent pretty much the entire day yesterday on a massive housecleaning and organization spree, including rearranging furniture, and the kids were great. It was the first weekend day in months that we never left the house, and Babyboy and Babygirl were (mostly) nice to each other, ate well, and cooperated with toy reorganization and storage. Babyboy insisted on riding on whatever piece of furniture we were moving: Whooeeee! He yelled while we slid the ottoman, easy chair, and couch. Babygirl fell asleep super-early and basically slept through to today.

It was lovely.

It didn’t last.

Today, we wanted to do something fun for the kids. So we skipped church and motivated to get to the Science Museum, which they love. When I asked them if they’d want to go, they both screamed “Yaaaaay!” and danced around. Eating breakfast and getting dressed were the usual challenge, but we managed to pack lunches for the kids (my brilliant tactic, to avoid the overpriced museum cafeteria food), replenish the diaper bag, and get out the door.

We arrived just after opening, and before the summer crowd. There was no line for the Butterfly Garden, and Babygirl and I spent a good thirty minutes in that tropical sunroom, surrounded by lush flora and thousands of very active butterflies. One alighted on my shoulder, to her astonishment and delight. A Painted Lady had just emerging from its chrysalis, and she kept wanting to see, again and again.

Meantime, Babyboy  was refusing to come in, though the Butterfly area also features the large bugs and frogs he likes to see, ucky creatures, like Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches and Thorny Devils, and black and yellow poison dart frogs… he likes to point and say , Ewwwwww!

But today, he was running from exhibit to exhibit, settling finally for awhile on a solar power experiment, not for rotating the panels to different angles of the light to see how many volts were generated, but rather, to pretend to write in the grid of the graph paper provided. He pretended it was a calendar, that he was doing “work”.

Hubby kept trying to entice him back to the Garden, since I was in there and we had tickets, and Babyboy finally left the grid. But then he got distracted by an exhibit featuring ping-pong balls, how different types of slope effect rolling speed. He rolled and rolled those ping-pong balls, and was doing great, until another kids came along, and then, we had meltdown #1.

His typical meltdown: He screams loudly and shrilly and yells “NO NO NO NO” like someone’s trying to kidnap him, and rolls on the ground, flailing and kicking, or bucks like a horse, making it hard to catch him. I’m not sure how Hubby got him out of that first one, but they eventually ended up in the Garden with us, for about three minutes.

Then we were off again. Babyboy is always entranced by the large kinetic sculpture, and sits examining it from all angles for at least twenty minutes, every time we come.  Billiard balls are lifted by a chain-and-wires mechanism and deposited into an electric-company-style pinball- machine-type contraption. It dings and bonks and whirs and he loves it.

Meantime, Babygirl was both fascinated and frightened by a live animal demonstration featuring a (very large) opposum, and all was going OK. But meantime, the place was filling up with busloads of tourists from all over and everyone in and around Boston with their entire families.

Our last stop is always the toddler/ preschool  playroom area, which features multiple hands-on learning exhibits, like examining animal skeletons and fur pelts; pretending to be bees in a beehive or birds in a tree. Babyboy usually gravitates towards the building blocks, magnetic toys and ping-pong ball chute construction (not sure how to describe that one). Babygirl loves the animal masks and book corner, and the snakes in their terrariums.

But we couldn’t quite get there. Babygirl tripped and had a mini-meltdown on the way. Then, as we walked past the cafeteria, Babyboy smelled something. Macaroni and cheese! He yelled. I need macaroni and cheese!

It wasn’t even 11 a.m., they had both eaten pancakes for breakfast, and I had packed their lunches, but he was obstinate. We had another full-on rolling around and flailing meltdown, this with multiple kids and families walking past and staring. Hubby and I shrugged and gave in, what the heck, get the kid some mac and cheese.

So we did. We bought the food and sat down. And then Babygirl, who wanted to get to the play area, started running to escape, ignoring me, flailing when I picked her up and dragged her back. We only had one membership card with us, and if I went to the play area with her, Hubby and Babyboy wouldn’t be able to get in. Or, at least, it would make things complicated. We considered trying it and then, as Babyboy was done eating (he actually put away a fair amount of Wolfgang Puck mac and cheese), we decided to pack it up and move on anyways.

But, then Babyboy wanted pineapple. He had seen it in the salad bar, and he could not be dissuaded. Another screeching fit. The tour group that had just filed in stared. So, I got up to get him pineapple. As I was at the salad bar, I heard more screeching and howling. Hubby was carrying him towards me. He was yelling, howling, hitting, in the most terrible way, like he was in pain… He wanted to scoop the pineapple into the bowl himself. Sobbing, screaming: I. Want. To. Do. It. Mommy. So I let him.

He ate it all. Babygirl continued to flip out and try to escape. We endured. We finally got them out of the caf and into the kiddie play area. Things went reasonably well for awhile, longer than we planned to be there anyways, and then Babygirl, due for a nap, pretty much went into an hourlong temper tantrum. Nothing would do, she wanted juicy, she didn’t want juicy, she wanted to be carried, she wanted to walk… We had to flee.

She screamed, cried and beat on me all the long walk back to the car. We figured she’d fall asleep on the way home, but, no. I rocked her and rocked her and she eventually went down…

Once home, Hubby and I tried to diagnose the meltdowns. We decided Babygirl was just tired, and Babyboy had been overstimulated. We figured that Babyboy would be calmer once home, and that the noise and crowds of the Science Museum on a summer Sunday was just a bad call.

But he was in a strangely aggressive mood all day. When we asked him if he had a dirty diaper, he got up and silently head-butted hubby, with all his little strength, causing coffee to splash all over. I thought we handled this pretty well: a stern admonishment- No! Bad Boy! We do not head-butt Daddy! was met with tears and I want Nana!, but then all was forgiven when he told Daddy he was sorry.

Later, he doused Babygirl with the water hose, and when Hubby turned it off, he went after Hubby with it, trying to whip him. It was odd. Not his usual. He was also uncharacteristically unsettled, jumping around on the couch, even doing headstands and somersaults on it, which I have never seen, during his favorite cartoons.

We had some decent moments: Babyboy rode around the block on his new big-boy bicycle (with training wheels), and Babygirl and I built a lego castle. But, overally, the day was full of moments like the above, and more. Bedtime was pretty bad.

Yesterday, everyone was thankfully calm and content. Today, everyone was inexplicably unhappy. Full of outbursts and tantrums and flailing and crying, for whatever reason.. .Babyboy’s diaper rash bothering him maybe? Neither of them sleeping enough in general? Maybe they’re both gluten- sensitive? Maybe there’s too much sugar in their diets? Who knows, but we will have to keep studying these outbursts, with the goal of avoiding them the next time.