Like everyone out there who decided to go into this whole parenting thing, I experience those unbearably frustrating moments where my kids are melting into a pile of tears. For whatever the reason may be at that particular time, their world has seemingly fallen apart. They can no longer function, they forget how to speak full sentences, and their shrieking volume could send dogs running. It seems that in those moments there is nothing I could possibly say that would make them feel better. In fact any attempt at calming them with words just send them up another octave of upset.
I once asked my daughter what I can do to help her during those times. Unlike much parenting advice out there about letting kids cry until they get out of the tunnel, my daughter's tunnel could last for hours. The tunnels in these articles seem to last under ten minutes. My son could probably squeeze out a meltdown in ten minutes, but my daughter..she has stamina. She put together a list and even detailed it with pictures. She said breathing would help her, holding Baa (her stuffed lamb,) sitting quietly in her room, and lastly a hug. I thought this was an amazing discovery, all of these tools. So the next time she got upset I took out the paper and much to my chagrin the first three on the list she wouldn't even try. After quite some time she said, “Mommy, can I have a hug?" It was then and there that I promised myself that no matter how angry I am, no matter how frustrated, how upset, I would never deny them a hug when requested.
My son is now at a less than lovely stage. His world seems to revolve around us serving him exactly how he expects. When it doesn't go his way, which it won't because it doesn't work that way, he falls apart. He is falling a part a lot lately. There is a limit to how much I will negotiate the word "no" with him,. When I draw that line in the sand he will do anything possible to try to erase that I put it there. At that point I start looking forward to the kind of man I want to raise and there is no going back for me. I will not feed his narcisism, because the outcome of that is not a good human, and I am in the business of putting a good person out there.
After his shorter journey through the tunnel, clammy from crying against the hard wood floor, I can hear his crying slow. I approach him and ask him if he would like a hug. He doesn't give much of an answer but I can vaguely make out a nod. I pick him up and put him in my arms and he falls into me. We sit together for as long as he needs. I will never let go first. I breath him in, and after a few moments, dry his eyes. We usually find something to laugh about and we move on.
I hope they always ask me for a hug when they need one. Sometimes when my daughter is upset and cranky and can't even figure out why, she asks for a hug. If heaven forbid there is day when both of them lose it, I am exhausted from dealing with them. I am drained of all of my superpowers and don't know how I will ever make it to their bedtimes. Then my husband comes home, and before he can get sucked dry by our spawn, I say, "Can I have a hug?"
It really is good stuff.