Tag Archives: emotions

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.


extremely loud and incredibly close. part one.

this is part one to what may be a three-part posting about my reaction to this film. i don’t discuss the movie in detail, so no spoiler.

we went to a movie last night. it’s interesting how we come to be exposed to certain music, literature (why isn’t there a cool word for music like there is for books), or movies (‘cinematatic experiences’ as i like to call them – and push my fake glasses back up my nose). i would say seventy-five percent of my exposure to these three portholes of ‘soul oxygen’ are introduced from a ‘trusted source’ (yes ‘trusted source’ – so much easier to say family member or friend, but ‘trusted source’ has weight – right? like i have a team of people working to find new information for me.), ten percent comes from magazines or on-line sources (definitely not always to be trusted) and wait, *whispers to self* seventy plus ten is eighty, eighty minus one hundred is… seventeen percent. (sorry I’m practicing in case anyone asks me to ‘walk them through the math’, what a funny thing to ask someone, likes it’s going to change their manipulation of the numbers. “oh you want me to ‘walk you through the math’, darn, um, well, *whispers to self – loud enough to be heard* two plus twenty carry the eight, so, six. yes, i have six sheep.” too funny) back to where I was going (where are we going?) twenty percent of my exposure is from blind luck. yes, just stumbling onto something. i found nellie mckay that way, if you haven’t heard her music – you should – now i’m one of your percentages of exposure. i was at the library looking through cds, the cover looked interesting – it was just her looking happy in a red jacket, i listened to it, and have since passed it on to others. you’re welcome nellie, which you have to say mckay after, or people think you’re ‘repin’ the lou’, and who but a few could blow through a reed for that city. just kidding – a fine place. just a little sports rivalry, i wanted to work mr. reed into this post, and didn’t want to make a silly ‘hot in herre‘ reference.

breath of air.

spoon man. yes, i'm up to four.

i ‘stumbled on’ a book a few years back called “extremely loud, incredibly close” by jonathan safran foer, and it moved me. it made an impression, so much so that i had to ‘trade it’ to a family member i rarely see, and don’t remember how or when we exchanged it, for one of his other books “everything illuminated” which was also turned into a movie. we went to see the ‘film adaptation’ (sorry my fake glasses were sliding down my nose again and needed a reason to be nudged up) of “extremely loud incredibly close” last night.

my goal is not to write a review or ruin the movie – if you have read the book- or seen the movie, then you already know what i know, and you tell others to read the book or see the movie. see, my goal is to advocate for this movie – because i want everyone to cry. yes, for those of you who don’t know me, i am an emotional person. our wedding, the girls first days of day care, the wind blowing east, are all lip quivering, shaky voice experiences for me. that being said, i have never seen so many people leave a theatre in tears. it was awesome, and inspiring. something happens when you become a parent, or have parents, something happens when you are human, your view of the world changes. (not all people are humans) you start to see everything through the lens of someone who has a shit load of responsibility – to put it bluntly. you kind of matter more than you did, and this understanding makes you more vulnerable to be a crier at a movie. i know, some people cry inside and don’t outwardly show emotions, i’m cool with that, and can see through the flesh on their cheeks. i think what makes me emotional in situations that i observe (movies, t.v. shows, or airport drop offs – your welcome for clarifying) is that i put myself in their place. i find something i identify with, and then create a landscape in my mind where all the people in my field of vision are suddenly ones i know and i see myself moving in front of me – stay with me – and i feel. simply put. i allow myself to feel. guess some of that may be empathy.

i think we were twenty minutes deep in the movie and i had already wiped my eyes, put my pointer finger on my eyebrow and pinky to my mouth (try it so you have the full picture) in an attempt to raise the top of my eye, causing a bit of pain, and making it easier to not turn into a total mess. the reason for my, and r.’s, emotional response? we saw some of our relationships with our girls, specifically a. – only because of age – in the characters, and i suddenly was watching a film of memories and couldn’t get my head around not being around, more specifically, not having them in my life – not being in theirs. i’m welling up as I write this. it’s something we can all think about, something that we can all gain perspective from – what if ‘they’ or ‘i’ were gone, as in dead. what would i miss? what would i leave? what do we do during the days, hours, minutes that we are together that they carry with them as indelible images? i identified with the dad in the movie’s quirkiness. we all have it. it’s called individuality. it’s what separates us from others, it’s what makes us, well, us. we can forget to expose that sometimes, or forget how much of it is being observed by our children, and the importance of it is insane. sharing quirkiness, or in other words, being ourselves, gives others a chance to share theirs, and with kids, that is of paramount importance. express and don’t be afraid to be what and who you are – a simple trite message, but one we need to remember, one that, as we age, is easier to forget. being yourself, by the way, is not just clothes, music and slang, it’s the way you smell the lid of the soy butter container and lick the spoon. it’s the things your loved ones remember when you’re gone, it’s your impression. share it.

expressing energetic emotions in front of kids.

where did you go?

seasons are shifting again
signaling in a new stage
get up, they say.
dance and sing, they urge.
sing for me my forgotten friend
let me be the one you raise your voice for
i hear before I hit the floor, wishing and wanting to be out the door as i hear the voices of three more.
responsibilities mount
and then the snow falls.

where were you?
wondering and wandering
using me as your excuse
an excuse to look over and back again thinking all the same that you would never look this way.
my eyes, a painful squint, broken cigarette creeping out of the corner of my mouth, flattened, half chewed
i used to use the shit out of every thing that came my way.
still do.

so, this is the start of a poem that i wrote on friday night. not really a poem, more a stream of consciousness – i enjoy writing and not looking back. a trip through my mind without edit. the poem goes on for about three pages, but it is riddled with cuss words and some things crept out that felt far too personal to share. some thoughts weren’t even really about me – i enjoy getting into a character when i write, a part of me, but not the whole me. it’s fun to blow up a section of your personality and let it dominate, but not everyone understands that people who write, like to play with ideas and thoughts more than write about reality – at least i do. if someone found my notebooks i would have a lot to explain. expression.

we express ourselves in different ways through the course of a day. not only do we express ourselves through different mediums, we express ourselves with different uses of language (r. gave me a hard time after she heard me on the phone with the tattoo artist i went to. she said ‘you sounded a little more “gangster” than you normally do’ laughing through each word. (i normally sound any bit gangster?) she went on to say that my words ran together more and that i was more relaxed, that i used more slang, and that my voice was lower. now, i was not conscious of my change in tone at all. after being a tad embarrassed, i realized that i had “code-switched” without realizing it. much like i used to do when i went from a staff meeting to a classroom full of kids.), and we express ourselves with different emotions. our “expressing” is being absorbed by h. and a. at an incredible level right now, and that is difficult to keep in mind, especially when emotions “run high” – um, when we argue.

now, i would be lying if i said that we didn’t argue in front of the kids, in fact we argue, or have intense discussions (as i like to call them – ever the diplomat), from time to time. i think about their feelings when “i just need to get my last point across” or when r. needs to let me know that she is aware of that “button” i just pushed, and i beat myself up for exposing them to their parents arguing or not being happy with one another, but i don’t know if having these discussions, or emotions, in front of them is all bad. there are some people who think that you should save your “heated discussions” for when the kids are in bed, or go into another room. i struggle with both of these. waiting until they go to bed would make the time until bedtime rough, yes, i am an adult, but some things need to be nipped in the bud right away, on both sides. stewing anger has the ability to take more away from the kids than modeling healthy ways to express it. and “going into another room” is tough for me too, if you don’t think kids can hear through those walls, you’re nuts. have we done it? yes. but it makes it more of an unnatural mystery for our kids if they notice that you left to argue. they may create stories about why you’re arguing, or worse, blame themselves. so, i say, let it all out in front of them. i’m kidding, but i do find value in showing our kids all types of expression, and that people get angry. they may be uncomfortable, i know, and that is the hardest part for me. i am very sensitive to how others feel in intense situations, but if we are readying them to regulate their emotions in a healthy way, then we need to show them how that looks. we need to show them how you come to an agreement, even after you disagreed intensely, and we need to show them how to say they are sorry, or that they were wrong. the one thing i love for our kids to see, after a brief intense stand-off between two strong-willed people, is our ability to come to an understanding and for one of us to say “hmm, i can see it from that point of view. sorry, i just got upset.” of course all of our arguments don’t end that way, but more often than not we share with the kids that even though mommy and daddy got upset, we still love each other.

lou needs to eat too

this is tough for me. sometimes i think that i am being selfish, that i can’t put my own emotions in check to save them seeing their parents have a disagreement, but someday they are going to realize that no matter how much you love someone, you don’t always agree with them, and sometimes they upset you. i am sure they are aware of this – they are sisters. as a. and h. get older i understand that we can’t shield them from the world, we need to explain it to them. do we use our imaginations frequently? yes, but we want them to have a healthy respect for their emotions and the world around them. i thought about this when we were watching the fighter jets do training exercises yesterday. a. asked “what are those little planes?” h., of course pointed and continued saying “apelane, apelane, apelane” louder and louder until she got enough of a reaction from all of us. i said “those are fighter jets” naturally she replies “what’s a fighter jet?”. i responded by saying “they fly in the sky to keep us safe” a. couldn’t leave it at that “safe from what?” my first thought was ‘man, why does she do this to me?’. at this point i left it at “in case those attack aliens from mars come to get us” okay, not exactly reality, but probably would mean the same as if i explained what and who we may need to protect ourselves from. everything in time?

where do you fall on the “arguing in front of the kids” debate. obviously arguing does not take up the bulk of our days, weeks, or lives, but everyone argues and we are comfortable with that, and feel healthier that we talk about it, rather than bury emotions that have the potential to creep up more intense and with too much sludge attached. as with everything – who knows what is right or wrong – there is no right or wrong (you know what i mean) – just ideas to help us all get better at being human.

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