My daughter has been having some uncharacteristic outbursts lately. Unreasonable relative to her typically logical personality. She’s not so soft spoken, she’s opinionated. But she’s determined and soft hearted. Reasonable.
She’s started to feel the impending responsibility of first grade, a whole new set of goals, experiences and ideas, and recognizing that there is a hell of a lot going on in the world around her. And she’s feeling a loss of control. And order.
Amidst analyzing…everything…that comes her way, lately she leans towards regression and upset that I haven’t seen from her. Simple things that normally wouldn’t have bothered her. Telling me I’m mean when she breaks something. And high pitched nonsensical lectures when she can’t (and won’t) find her woobie at night. Or when she’s taken an unfair hand from her sister. All usually taken in stride.
They’re momentary. But they’re strange. As a knee jerk, initially I was combatting it with hollering back at her about ‘How am I mean because your tablet is dead!?’ And ‘You have no idea how lucky you are!’….it’s just the sad truth. Because it’s frustrating and it’s a sensory overload for me. For both of us. And we both go over the top if allowed. If no one is there to reign us in.
A few days ago, she spilled her science slime on her legs coming home from camp. It was covering her legs and dripping everywhere. Sticking everywhere. I have never heard her so heartbroken and terrified or seen her mind in such chaos. It escalated in seconds and the sounds were what I would imagine were she to watch an animal being killed. It sounds dramatic. It was. I was lost on it. And clearly so was she.
It wouldn’t have helped me to shout at her about how out of control she was. Or to get a grip on herself. Or to tell her she’s being unreasonable. Though the level was getting there. But nothing in the world I could do was going to distract her. I had to drive. She was screaming to stop the car NOW and to help her. ‘FIX IT! HELP ME!’ She was shaking and breathless, with her fingers parted, honey consistency in between all of them. I asked her ‘Are you upset your slime is gone, or is that feeling making you sick?!’ She wouldn’t answer, only repeated herself. Again and again. I was engaging in some daredevil, eyes off driving on a busy city street at rush hour trying to figure out how to help. Hollering, sweating and nervous as hell. I’d never seen it in my life…not from this kid.
I took into account she’d been independent all week at a camp where her brain was overloaded with experiments and social activity. Five insanely early mornings, 7 hour days, a hundred new people, new rules, and 90 degree heat…starving.
And then I knew exactly how she must be feeling. Frustrated. Anxious. Relieved. Tired and overloaded. Needing help. Needing special care. I know all of those things well and for nearly the same reasons. Every day. It wasn’t about the slime. It wasn’t about being uncomfortable or messy. She just wanted someone to fix it. Someone to, please fix everything. Everything that she was feeling. And now.
As adults we can’t do this. It isn’t acceptable. We can’t cry out. We can’t scream for anyone to help us. We’d look crazy. We’d scare people off. We’d look troubled. Immature. We want to though…we feel it. We’re overwhelmed often, and can’t scream for that special care when we know we need it. And get that help every time. No one can soothe our anxieties for us. We have to fix things on our own. We have to feel better on our own. But a five year old does not have to.
‘I’m here. We’re a block away. Stay still. I hear you. We’ll fix it’...
…Worked wonders ❤