letting our kids feel, and letting them know it’s real.

i was cleaning up after lunch (a chore i enjoy – setting the stage for round two in the day, a fresh start) and a. and h. were in a.’s room playing prior to quiet time – which is mostly nice, but there are the times i come in to ‘break up the party’ and am met with a myriad of reasons why they should have quiet time together. ‘dad, we will totally play quiet and i will share my leapster i promise.’ ‘no, to your own room girls’ (when i write and say that i feel really old – especially the way i say “girrrrls”) ‘dad, how about we play in here for a little bit, and if we are doing well we can keep playing together or go to our own rooms’ she looks up with a smile, knowing she has just played me at my own game. “no, come on guys let’s go” my tone flatter, my eyes losing their ‘this is cute’ smile. then: they up the ante, i get stern, they hug and kiss a few hundred times – their love enhanced by the fight against a common enemy, h. finally goes to her own room, i sit on the sofa, ten minutes later she is coming out of her room with a ‘rooster in the oven’ (euphemism for ‘poop in the diaper’), we change her diaper (it’s the humane thing to do) and she goes back to her room. i then have anywhere between ten minutes and two hours to ‘do things around the house’ (in quotes only because there is little to no consistency with how i use that time – probably best gauged off of my bejeweled blitz score).

spinning on the moon.

so, during this ‘pre-quiettime play’ i usually don’t notice the noises they are making, unless it is ‘the cry’ – you know, the one that they aren’t faking, the one that comes from the source of the pain and out the mouth, the one we say ‘it better be’ but hope we never hear. as they play, my ears are filled with my own grunts, the garbage disposal, clanging of dishes, and thoughts that range from the talent of plumbers to whether ryan braun is innocent. but, this day the noise that came from a.’s room was different, best described as a wail, a heart-felt, stomach to throat to mouth moan and cry, the sound of her soul coming out of her mouth, a child feeling deep. i walked in, knowing she was hurting and not hurt, to find her holding a picture of her and her friend from back home. not just holding, but pressing to her chest, trying to make him appear in her heart. the sobs were broken up by “i want my l., l. i just want my l.” over and over again. i held her, i think i said it would be alright, but mostly held her and let her feel. i love that little girl. my goodness, she feels. i hope that i or the world never strips that from her. yes, she is four, i could down play the whole thing, and tell her to move on, chalk it up to the irrational crazy emotions of a four-year old – ‘nope’, as h. would say, i want our children to feel. it’s not an easy road to feel that deeply, i know, i think we all know, but being able to express, expose and delve into that type of feeling will help her better relate to the world around her – i think. yes, we must teach children to regulate their emotions, but first we must teach them that it is okay to have and show them.

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2 responses to “letting our kids feel, and letting them know it’s real.

  • selmaphinster

    I haven’t seen her in so long, but I can attempt to visualize and hear A. Based on our goodbyes, I can imagine what those tears look like. (And I was wondering when missing L would become apparent to her.) It’s a great thing that you’re doing for them, allowing them to FEEL and express when they feel something, no matter how north or south of neutral it is. I remember being told to turn off the tears, grow up or get over it (maybe not quite that harshly, but the sentiment was definitely there) when I was young and I’m convinced it led me to bottle and store a lof of things away. (The bottling may also be directly linked to my outpouring of smiles and/or tears as an adult when I realized that I was sometimes more than just a little happy or sad 😉 I have always admired A for her honesty and willigness to say how she feels. I imagine she will show many others, most definitely including H, that this sort of thing is more than okay.

    • andrewsmeyer

      thanks for sharing s. i think you’re dead on. a scratched knee – we must move on from, but emotional hurt is different, and insanely relative to the individual. can we really say “awe come on. you’re not sad about that.”? by the way, as I am writing this she is addressing envelopes to ‘you know who’ – now, that’s the cute part of her feeling.

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