A morning with the early risers.
Today was huge for us. It may not sound like much to other parents, but for us it was groundbreaking. My family has moved a lot in the last 2 years. New beds, new kitchens, new homes, new cities, new countries. 8 times, 8 new homes, 2 little kids in tow. Through it all I have been home with my kids, making me (for better and for worse) the one constant in their lives aside from each other. 4 months ago, my son started having “separation anxiety” that I have been reticent to write about. In fact, it has made writing anything or doing anything nearly impossible as I am always with him and engaging him. To say he didn’t want to be without me would be an understatement. Example: I am sitting beside he and his sister while they play. My son suddenly looks up, eyes wide and says in a panicked way, “MAMA??? (looks to his right about 12 inches) Oh! I thought you were gone.” Even being lost in play was too far from me. Maybe this is actually “We are separate people” anxiety. He did not want me to turn a corner in the house ahead of him (and be out of sight) much less go into another room without him. He wanted me promise I would not leave the room when he was asleep. “But if I call for you, you will not hear me and I will be alooooone,” is a common statement around here. Recently, when the whole family is out somewhere and his sister needs to go potty, he goes with me even if he doesn’t need to use the potty and even though his Baba is there to wait outside the bathroom with him. He prefers to stay with me even if that means going into a yucky public restroom that is full of things which inflame his VERY sensitive senses (the loud flushing, the banging doors, the incredibly loud hand dryers, the banging and ripping of the paper towel machine, the smell of soap and deodorizer which is much worse than the smells they are masking. A public restroom is a mine field to him. The world looks very different to a person who is this acutely tuned to sensory input). His nightmares are frequently that I am gone or unavailable in some way. When I signed us up for a little camp on a farm this summer (just a few other kids, no structured dancing or singing, no expected hugging, no forced hellos, lots of outdoor space, talking and not yelling, no time-outs) I thought maybe by the second week I might be able to sit on the porch while he played nearby. As it turned out, I spent nearly every moment in physical contact with him and did every activity with him. It was a major accomplishment when at the end of the camp he waved to his teacher. No voice, just a wave while looking at the ground. I took him out for ice cream that day. I was elated for him. Fast forward to today.
My big plan for today was a “mommy and me” yoga class geared to ages 2-6 that I read about online. I psyched the kids up to do yoga together. I even brought Sufyan his favorite book in case he got overwhelmed and needed to retreat (often happens in activities that put him in a room with other kids, particularly if there is music and especially if there is a ‘thing’ he must do like sing or dance). I brought water for us all. We got our mats. I sat down, ready to cheerlead. Ready for the refusals, ready for shy smiles, ready to assuage the teacher’s feelings if need be (I’m an expert at ‘it’s not you, it’s us”. You’d be surprised how often the leader needs as much or more assurance than my child). I sat there on the mat and I noticed the teacher was looking at me in a funny way. “You can go enjoy your practice!” she told me. What? Go? We are here for the mommy and me…wait a second. I read it wrong? This is a DROP OFF class??? Oh boy…that will never happen. They won’t…they can’t…But I looked at my kids, a hopeful Laila in her violet leotard and smiling Sufyan in his favorite glow in the dark pajamas which he had insisted were perfect for yoga, and I simply asked if they felt they could do it. I nearly fell over when Sufyan said YES! The only catch: I had to be visible at the door. That’s it??? That I can do. I can practice yoga later, like after we conquer this major obstacle in my son’s emotional life. So even though it seemed weird, and even though I expected the magic to last about 30 seconds before they were banging on the door to get me back in the room, I sat on a blanket outside the door and…they did it!! THEY DID IT!! They did a 90 minute yoga class in a room with music with a stranger and without me. In fact, Sufyan was sad when it ended. And he did make eye contact with me occasionally. He would see me, smile and go back to yoga-ing.
For her part, Laila was a bit nervous, too, but not much. In classic Laila style she was up for the adventure as long as I was close and her big brother was with her. She was so involved that I could have been on a distant planet for most of the class instead of right outside the door. At one point, though, Laila wanted to go get me and began to feel sad. I heard Sufyan tell her, “It’s ok, Laila. Mama is there and I will keep you safe!”
And she was fine! I’m celebrating this day. HOORAY FOR YOGA!!! HOORAY FOR SUFYAN AND LAILA! Their world just got bigger.
Passage of Time Marked by Food
Found Object for Today: Home Comming
Trauma or not. Is it up to us?
What is the mental/emotional difference between a bad day and a traumatic experience? An event that is traumatic for one person is not traumatic for another. Being embarrassed in front of peers comes to mind. Some kids brush it off and some never do. Is it the way we process an event that determines whether or not that event will be a haunting, flashback-inducing, trauma? Or is the experience itself essentially traumatic or non-traumatic? It is certainly not about the end result being “good” or “bad”. Childbirth comes to mind. You can tell a woman who has had a difficult birth experience to be happy because she is holding a beautiful baby (subtext: You got the baby and that’s all that matters) all day and that won’t make her anguish lessen. So, what makes something traumatic? Is it the way we look at that experience and sort it out in our minds after the fact? More importantly, how does one “let it go”? I’m trying to sort this stuff out. Thoughts?
He read this (I promise no more about his reading after this, but I am so amazed. I’m proud of him)