The weekend before last Mica cried, on and off, for at least four hours.
We were coming home from spending Fourth of July weekend at my parents’ house, which is a two-hour drive north of us. We had had a lovely time with my parents and my brother and his family (though we missed having my sister and her family there!).
The kids beachcombed, waded in the water, swam in the kiddie pool, played golf, baseball, and soccer. They watched fireworks, the kid kind and the BIG kind…
On Sunday, Mica was running on about four hours less sleep than usual — he went to bed late and got up early. There is so much to do! Then, on the way home he woke up from his nap when we lurched to a stop in traffic, after less than hour after he fell asleep.
And he began to fuss and cry and beg me to unbuckle his carseat.
I empathized with him, but he wasn’t feeling any better or calmer (and I was feeling tense), so we pulled over at a gas station, nursed, used the bathroom, bought some barely passable snacks, and took a break in the air-conditioned space.
He seemed to be perked up, so we drove again, but the cycle of crying, empathizing, and then seeming okay but crying again continued until we finally made it home.
Once we were home, Mica continued to vaccilate:
I want to go upstairs! I want to go downstairs!
In fact, I think we were all feeling a little like that. Rom kept trying to distract him from crying, which would work, but only for a short amount of time. I kept trying to be present with him, but then I would end up just needing to walk away because I was becoming so tense about the crying.
In the midst of all this wavering, we made dinner…
Finally, I concentrated on eating my own dinner, after which I felt better (mama: apply your oxygen mask first). Mica still fussed and stopped. I would hold him. Rom would hold him. Every once in a while, I would offer him food, which he refused.
Finally, I sat down as Mica wandered around the living room, crying. His crying wasn’t sobbing, more like a deep fussing.
I reached out for him, and held him firm-gentle: “Mica, your body is out of balance, and Mama and Papa are here to help you. I can help you get centered.” We came together, and he sat in my lap while I started breathing deeply. I have this very vague visualization of myself as a vessel — like my hands are turned up and my body is broad, with my child within this soft space.
I told him, “Mica, inside of you you have a good place. It’s called your center. And right now we are going to find that good place inside you. That good place knows how to take care of you… it can tell you what your body needs. Maybe you need to sleep or maybe you need to eat.”
“No, I not hunny!”
“That’s okay, we’ll wait and see what your good place has to say.” And I continued to sit there and breathe while I held him in my lap, with me murmuring every once in a while about his center and taking care of himself. We sat like that for a few minutes, and then he said, “I want to eat dinner.”
So we walked over to the dinner he had cast aside and he sat on my lap while he ate the whole thing. And after that he was still a very tired child, but he was no longer a spiraling out of control child.
He had found a good place.
* * Read a post about me helping Orlando get centered while we were at the park. * *
* * For other posts about empathy and connecting, see Sibling Apology (I added three bonus links to the end of that post!!) * *